Anatomy of a stroke – part 1

Just what happens when you have a stroke?  Most people only get to see the after effects of a stroke.  Few actually get to hear some of the less personal details.  Only two people, the stroke survivor and the stroke caregiver get to know it all.  They see, hear and live the whole horror of what REALLY goes on when stroke happens. I will try to give you some insight so you will understand.  Usually, you only hear about how well a stroke survivor is doing.  There is nothing wrong with that, on the surface; BUT able-bodied people NEVER hear the true horror of what having a stroke is REALLY like!  Maybe, if more people heard what going through one is like then they would do EVERYTHING humanly possible to reduce their chances of having one. 

I see this as a dichotomy for most stroke survivors.  It is totally reasonable for a stroke survivor to tell people they know that they are doing well.  In turn, any stroke survivor likes to hear that they look good or are doing great.   Stroke survivors need to hear that positive reinforcement.  They are not going to be rude and tell you how they are REALLY doing.  Nor are they going to bend your ear and tell you about the nightmare that they are living.  But the other side is that able-bodied people NEVER get to learn anything other than strokes are bad and only happen to old people.

How do I know this you are probably asking?  The answer it so obvious!  I know because more people continue to have a stroke EVERYDAY!  When most people hear about stroke awareness they kind of hear what is being talked about but how many people listen and then take action?  Every 40 seconds someone has a stroke.  Strokes just keep happening; day in and day out.  So what does this tell me?  People are not afraid of having a stroke!  The attitude of society is that it will not happen to me.

Well, let me tell you about my stroke.  I want to tell you about the first days of my stroke.  I want you to cringe at some of the things you will hear.  I am aiming this blog at any able-bodied person who bothers to read my blog.  I have to warn you, though; it is not a pretty picture!

First, you need to understand some background.  I was an aerospace engineer working in the Quality Department.  My job took me all over the world on numerous business trips.  I frequently worked 12 and 14 hour days.  I did not mind it that much because I loved what I was doing.   My only complaint was that I had too much responsibility.  I was in a middle management position and had about 40 people working for me, plus upper management loved to pile more things on for me to be responsible for.

You might be wondering why the background information about me so important.  It is important because this is how strokes formulate.  Please do not ask me how!  I only know that practically every stroke survivor I have ever spoken to, which are literally thousands, have said that STRESS was a big part of their life before their stroke.  Also, chronic migraine headaches on a daily basis plagued them, too.

Anyway, besides having a fantastic job, I had and still have a beautiful wife and two gorgeous girls.   I had it ALL!  Good job, great salary, nice family, fantastic house, two cars.  I was loving life for the most part.  You know what they say; the higher you are the further you fall!

Enough of the background about me, here is my story; I was on a business trip in Toulouse, France.  I love France; the food is the best I have tasted in all the dozens of other business trips that I have taken around the world.  The French architecture and café restaurant atmosphere cannot be beat.  Toulouse is an old city and is approximately 90 miles northwest of the Mediterranean Sea.  To be continued…



2 Responses

  1. I count my blessings every day. I had a stroke on November 21, 2006. Fortunately, I’m about 97% back. I have no permanent impairments, except my energy level waves. ( I have also forgotten how to spell!!)
    I have a loving wife and three great children.

    I’m fortunate that I live in Boston. The folks at Beth Israel not only saved my life, but gave my life back to me.



  2. My grandma had several strokes before she died in 1990. I watched her during those times and it made me very aware of what I have to do in my own life to try to keep that from happening. I am sorry for what you had to go through and I think your story is a very important one to get out there for people to read.


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