Conversion Disorders Can Imitate a Stroke

Sometimes people who are under a lot of stress or suffer from deep depression will suffer from conversion disorders. Conversion occurs when the body manifests symptoms due to stress, anxiety and depression. I woke up with a conversion disorder one morning in late January. I wasn’t too worried because I could still think, write, and reason okay, but I just couldn’t speak.

I have suffered from expressive aphasia before and that was diagnosed as a conversion disorder. This time the conversion was a little bit different. I lost my ability to speak in that everything that came out of my mouth was garbled or I would stammer so bad that it was difficult to understand me. My stammering was fueled by anxiety, the more I tried to talk the more I stammered and the more anxious I got.

One afternoon I was so bad that my arms were drawn up to my chest and I couldn’t move them. My speech was garbled and my tongue was pushed out of my mouth and unable to move to make words. My daughter called 911 because she was afraid I might be having a stroke. I was scared too. My daughter looked at my pupils, and told me they were equal and reactive to light, so I was comforted that I wasn’t having a stroke. In a few minutes the EMTs came and did neuro checks on me and they were fine. They suggested I just wait it out, since I wasn’t having a stroke.

The next day I wasn’t any better so I went to the doctor. She took my symptoms very seriously, she stated to me that I am very articulate and she knows this wasn’t me. She thought I could be having a stroke. She did different neuros than the EMTs did. She asked me to move my tongue into my cheek and I couldn’t do it. All the other neuro checks were fine except for that.

I was sent to the ER and they did blood work, put an INT into me for the event of an emergency and I needed IV meds or fluids. I also went for a CT scan and that turned out to be normal. An MRI was ordered but it was never done because the machine was out of service while I was in the ER. I was admitted for observation and I was supposed to get the MRI that next day but it was never fixed. After spending two days in the hospital I asked to go home.

It took about a week for the symptoms to subside and I spoke perfectly. I still have conversion from time to time. If I get anxious or I am in a stressful situation the conversion comes back and I cannot speak without stammering or garbling my words.

My doc suggests that I see a psychiatrist because she says I have some deep seated depression that is causing this. She said I will need more than what she can do for me. I told her about the first psychiatrist I had – when I had the first episode of conversion over a year ago – wasn’t a good fit for me. He acted like a jerk to me and fired me as a patient when I couldn’t keep an appointment due to my finances. I had straight Medicare back then and they don’t pay much at all. I hadn’t reached my deductible at the time and I had to pay $95 a visit. I just couldn’t do it.

I have better insurance now (Humana Medicare replacement) and seeing a psychiatrist will be $40 a visit, which is much more manageable. My doctor suggested a female doctor to me that she thought I would like. I’ll make my first appointment with the new doctor today. I hope that between medication and talking about issues from my past that I can get rid of that conversion disorder once and for all.


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