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Warren Ellis Experiences Blood Pressure-Related Health Scare

If you follow prolific writer Warren Ellis on Instagram, then you may have seen that the "Planetary" / "Red" / "Authority" / "NextWave" writer recently went through a health scare that put him in close proximity to a hospital's Acute Stroke Unit. The writer wrote about his experience over the past week in the latest edition of his newsletter, Orbital Operations.

Ellis, who has suffered previous issues regarding his blood pressure, noted that he's been feeling "tired and crappy" for a few weeks. This culminated this past Thursday night when Ellis started experiencing stroke-like symptoms.

"The right side of my face was paralysed, and there was some aphasia and confusion," Ellis wrote. "We immediately established that my face had not dropped, but everything else looked like a stroke." Ellis states that these symptoms passed within two minutes, while he was en route to the hospital.

"I entered the hospital on my own power, stood and gave a ton of details to the reception team, and sat down," Ellis continued. "Within what must have been two minutes of sitting, it happened again, just as the triage nurse was coming to get me. It took four people to get me in the wheelchair. I was able to speak again as I got to resus, and ten minutes later I was accepted by the Acute Stroke team and rushed to the CT scanner."

On Friday, Ellis' initial diagnosis was a transient ischaemic attack, or a "mini-stroke." Further testing and an MRI, however, showed that Ellis had no signs of brain damage or stroke. "I was released on Saturday, having returned entirely to normal with no damage from the episodes," wrote Ellis. "My cholesterol is up, but otherwise I'm good. My leaving notes now say 'miscellaneous neurological event.' Which sounds almost insultingly boring."

Ellis sums up the experience by saying that, once again, his "fluctuating blood pressure decided it was time to try and kill me again." Ellis will undergo more tests in the new few months and is currently "tired, covered in so many sucker marks from the monitor electrodes that I look like I've been sexually assaulted by an octopus." Ellis posted the following picture to Instagram on Saturday.

So, see if you can spot why I haven't been responding to messages this week, hahah -

A photo posted by Warren Ellis (@warrenellis) on

To put these events in proper context, you can read Ellis' own words about his hospital stay below.

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I'd been feeling tired and crappy for a few weeks, with a couple of odd symptoms, and I had a note in my calendar to call the doctor on Friday to get an appointment. My blood pressure had been checked a few weeks earlier and was fine.

About fifteen years ago, my blood pressure tried to kill me. I was unconscious for six weeks and couldn't work for another six or seven weeks after that. Everything normalised afterwards, and I wasn't monitored.

When I started feeling crappy, I started taking a low-dose aspirin on my own, but stopped a week ago because I had a bruise that wasn't clearing up, as a result of thinned blood. Ha ha.

A few nights of broken sleep were topped by a very bad night's sleep on Wednesday night, largely due to a severe weather change in the area.

On Thursday, in bed, I had something that presented very much like a stroke. My entire right side was useless. The right side of my face was paralysed, and there was some aphasia and confusion. We immediately established that my face had not dropped, but everything else looked like a stroke. However, once I was wrestled to my feet, it started to pass, and two minutes later I was normal, making a coffee and having a cigarette (yeah, I know, but) because I knew I was on my way to the hospital (and I needed to be as sharp as possible in the circumstances to give a full report on admittance). I entered the hospital on my own power, stood and gave a ton of details to the reception team, and sat down. Within what must have been two minutes of sitting, it happened again, just as the triage nurse was coming to get me. It took four people to get me in the wheelchair. I was able to speak again as I got to resus, and ten minutes later I was accepted by the Acute Stroke team and rushed to the CT scanner.

Thrombosed, hooked up to a bag and monitors, obsessively checking my own physical and mental responses and capabilities. All good fun. And then I discovered that I had no internet access and barely any basic phone signal. Couldn't tell most people where I was.

On Friday, the diagnosis was transient ischaemic attack -- "mini-stroke," an early warning. Half an hour in the MRI, much blood extraction and the delivery of a couple of gallons of urine. I read two books during my stay, which ended Friday afternoon -- I'm not going to mention them, because they were terrible -- just through the determination to keep all the cognitive lights on and start burning new pathways if need be. By the way, the O and T keys on this laptop are dying, so, if you see missed letters, it's not because I have brain damage.

In fact, the MRI showed that I have no brain damage, and all my pipes and tubes are intact, strong and unfurred. No stroke, no transient ischaemic attack. I was released on Saturday, having returned entirely to normal with no damage from the episodes. My cholesterol is up, but otherwise I'm good. My leaving notes now say "miscellaneous neurological event." Which sounds almost insultingly boring.

What happened was that my fluctuating blood pressure decided it was time to try and kill me again.

I will have several more tests over the next few months on an outpatient basis, my GP has been told that in fact I did need monitoring the entire time because I've probably been building to this for a few years, I've been put on a statin, and -- wait for it -- I've also been put on the exact aspirin dose I took myself off a week ago. FUNNY JOKE, UNIVERSE

Right now, I am tired, covered in so many sucker marks from the monitor electrodes that I look like I've been sexually assaulted by an octopus, and hanging out with my kid, whose gift for having returned from university on Friday is to shadow her old man for a couple of days. I've cancelled two projects, I'm delaying three others, and I just pulled the battery out of the countdown clock.

So: not dead, but I thought for a while there that I might be. Or, at the very least, not capable of writing this newsletter or anything else. My blood pressure issue decided to disguise itself as a stroke, the ninja bastard, but it wasn't a stroke, at all, and I'm still here. Hi.

I am going to be TERRIBLE at replying to email for the next week, as I need to sleep and manage stress. And, trust me, stress relief is not something I get much of in my life.

You know what was nice? Late last night, I reconnected with brilliant Jenni Baird, the co-star of the GLOBAL FREQUENCY pilot from way back when. And she had a hangover, so she felt as bad as I did. That was a lovely thing to come home to.

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