Archive for December, 2013

A Wake-Up Call

December 31, 2013

“I love you, please don’t die.”

My wife’s words in my ear as I lay semiconscious in the ICU after my stroke. Last Rites performed in case I did pass away. Terrible to think what I may have done to my family. But I survived.

So began the arduous task of recovery. And therapy; having to learn again things I used to do without thinking. And medication; something I did not even consider, knowing full well I have a family history of hypertension, which most likely caused the blood clot that led to my stroke. That, and obesity with a sedentary lifestyle thrown in.

Six weeks later and ninety pounds lighter, I left the hospital and continued out-patient therapy. And began a lifetime of continuous medication.

Talk about a wake-up call.

Earthly Angel

December 30, 2013

(19 November 2013) Yesterday, I witnessed a miracle. I was amazed and humbled that God heard my “prayer” and responded by sending an angel. I never got the chance to ask your name. Thank you, whoever you are. Your act of kindness and generosity will be paid forward.

After shopping for groceries with my son and checking out, my debit card was refused by the merchant as having insufficient funds to cover my purchase. My fault entirely. I had no idea what to do next.

Another customer overheard our distress and came to our rescue by paying the debt in full – not a small purchase amount in my estimation. That selfless act of generosity restored my faith in humanity and renewed my faith in the Lord.

I learned many lessons yesterday.

Lesson 1: God listens.
Lesson 2: communication is key.
Lesson 3: family matters.
Bonus lesson: although I am ready to return to work, I may not be recovered enough to provide my best for a potential employer. Fellow stroke survivors will understand.

So, What Exactly is a Stroke?

December 30, 2013

I wondered the same thing. Before my stroke, I knew nothing of the cause and effect, only that it happened to older, infirm persons. Boy, was I wrong.

According to the U.S. National Laboratory of Medicine, “a stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain stops. A stroke is sometimes called a ‘brain attack.’

If blood flow is cut off for longer than a few seconds, the brain cannot get blood and oxygen. Brain cells can die, causing lasting damage.”

Wow.

Strokes can happen at any time, to anyone, even to healthy persons and unborn babies. They can be caused by a variety of reasons – other diseases, body defects, lifestyle choices, obesity, hereditary issues, surgical errors, or trauma – not just to the head, but to other parts of the body where blood clots may form and eventually work their way to the brain, developing into a stroke.

Strokes may cause additional conditions in some survivors, making their lives even more miserable and recovery more difficult.

Not knowing these things caused me, and many other folks, to fear the unknown, thinking strokes are contagious (they are not). To interact with survivors with caution, or avoid them when possible. To think of them as lepers. Terminal patients. Hopeless causes. We are far from that.

Education is key. Understanding this condition and the survivors will help caregivers and family and friends to better interact with us.

National Stroke Association – for more information on strokes, survivors, caregivers, friends and family, services and support:

http://www.stroke.org

Game Changer

December 29, 2013

Stuff happens. My life changed forever in January 2008. I had an ischemic stroke on the right side of my brain, which affected the left side of my body – gait, dexterity, vision, hearing, and verbal communication. Also affected relationships with my family and friends.

No longer able to work and drive, I became somewhat a hermit. Lost in my own little world. Slow to react. Unable to talk and be understood. Unable to understand clearly what exactly was happening to me, causing grief and frustration. For me and my family.

Through many months of therapy, I learned to deal with my changed life. No longer were things easy for me, even walking was a challenge. Forget about running – years away from that ability. Re-learned how to eat, dress, care for myself. And speak. I have something called aphasia. Thank goodness my memory was left pretty much intact.

So begins my journey to recovery, and my new “normal.”