A short story of my first book “Reflections” by Marja Korhonen (written by headmouse)

Translation: Varpu Sihvonen


My name is Marja Korhonen. I’m a mother of three and a special education teacher from Saarijärvi, Finland. A tragic turn of events changed my life forever in 2004. Daylight saving time was about to end, and everyone else was getting ready to turn the clocks. Me, I turned a pretty dark page in my life.


It all started with a headache, which I thought was just something innocent. After all, I never had headaches. My life was quite hectic as it was filled with work and studying, had been for years. In 2004 I took a new job; I was a visiting special education teacher in my school district, which meant a lot of traveling. The headaches got worse and more frequent. I was referred to the school nurse and the doctor, but I never got a chance to make an appointment.

In the night of October 25th, 2004, I experienced a strange episode. My right leg failed me, and I had trouble making words. I crawled to the back door to get some fresh air. I thought maybe it was carbon monoxide from the fireplace, and little by little the symptoms eased up. In the end, it felt just like an anxiety attack. I had calleded a friend to accompany me, and once he arrived, the symptoms were all gone. I slept through the rest of the night.

As I was preparing for a day of study in the morning, the symptoms returned, and they were even more severe this time. I called my friend, and he took me to the local hospital in Saarijärvi. Once we got there, I wasn’t able to take even one step. After a quick exam I was rushed to a regional hospital in Jyväskylä, with a referral that said “suspected paralysis.”


The ER of the Jyväskylä hospital was crowded, and they left me in the hallway to wait. My parents lived about 60 miles (100 kilometers) away, and they arrived as soon as they could. Before their arrival, I had already had some X-rays taken, which made me feel lousy, and was left in the hallway to wait, again. At some point later the day a student doctor, specializing to be a neurologist, examined me briefly and didn’t find anything alarming, even though my speech was blurry and I complained about my right arm, which felt slack. My brother visited me later in the afternoon, and my condition had just worsened. My parents demanded and MRI, which is more accurate than a CT Scan, but it was refused. There I was, all day, left alone in a bed, first in the hallway and later in an office room. My partner arrived to the hospital early evening, and he found me in the office.

I had requested to see a neurologist, many times, and I repeated again the request using all the strength I had left. I said I really feel like maybe I’m not paralyzed yet, but it’s about to happen. Nobody took me seriously, and even my partner asked for a doctor to visit me, twice. The doctor didn’t show up. I was just told that the doctor will see me, when she gets a chance.


At 9 PM I was told I will be admitted, and my partner was asked to leave. It was a moment of horror; I wasn’t able to talk any more, and I was losing my consciousness. I had had nothing to eat all day, and I have no recollection of being admitted. And yet, according to the hospital files, I was taken to a bathroom, and I was totally slack, and I couldn’t stand on my feet. They had failed me. My breathing was kept an eye on, and there was foam coming out of my mouth. I reacted to pain, and I was given sedatives, twice, even though I was already unconscious.


I had heavy spasms during the night, and finally the student doctor showed up and alarmed the neurologist, who was a backup that night. The diagnosis was a suspected large clot in the brain stem, but this information was not passed to my parents that night. Actually, they were not informed about anything. That was one of the fatal mistakes made that night, because my parents knew better; they would have demanded a transfer to Kuopio, to a hospital that has the ways and means to dissolve clots. At that point it was too late, too late for everything. My parents were out of choices. It was too late to have a surgery to remove the clot.


My parents were not let in the hospital to see me in the morning. They were told some aggressive examinations are taking place. Finally the doctors tried to dissolve the clot, 13 hours too late. I reacted very badly to the treatment, and I nearly died. A black page in my life had been turned.

To be continued..