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Chris DeWald | Impulsiveness and Stroke Survivors

According to the American Stroke Association, some survivors experience apathy and don’t seem to care about anything. “People often mistake this for depression because survivors are content to sit and stare at the wall all day.” “The best response is to get them active and moving. Give them a choice of what to do or where to go, but make it clear they have to choose to do something, they can’t just lie in bed.”

Apathy presents itself as indifference — the person seems to not have emotions.  People with apathy do not seem motivated or interested in things.  Often, the person is generally satisfied and content with doing nothing — and doesn’t seem bothered by it.  In many cases, it’s of more concern to the family or caregiver.  This is more often seen in right brain strokes.

Depression, on the other hand, is an emotion in which the person feels sad and often discouraged, hopeless about the future, and perhaps suicidal.

Another book I have read, The Comfort of Home for Stroke, a Guide for Caregivers has some very good points. I disagree with a few points that would really get me “aggravated” and may be counter productive.

This is a Google website that allows you to read some information –

If anyone would hide things from me so I could not perform the scenario I wanted to do would cause me to not be a very “mellow” person. Thank you for trying to protect me, but this lacks the degree of respect that exists somewhere in the person I now have become. Reasoning with a stroke survivor may be not possible. Some survivors are content just being “there”. Others, like me, enjoy our freedom. I was reading power tools as not being a good idea. OK, that may be a good idea if unsupervised. Take away the band saw from me, but there are others that may do well. This depends on the severity of the stroke. This can be determined by your therapy team. Use them as they are professionally trained people who can explain things differently. Me? I would not be swayed by any family member not to do certain items. An outside specialist I would be more apt to listen for the truth. Let the survivor have that opinion. It is better than starting the “resentment” many of us feel at family members.


Personality Change

Some stroke victims experience personality changes. While survivors of left-brain strokes tend to become introverted and meek, those who have had right-brain strokes may become more impulsive and inquisitive. This impulsivity may lead the patient to insist that he or she can still function just as normally as ever and attempt to drive, do difficult tasks by themselves or attempt to walk unaided. This can lead to further injury and can be a very difficult and distressing problem for caretakers to deal with.

This is a direct statement from:

I find items on this page very true, especially with me. Now let’s get on with me and my “impulsiveness”. My stroke was “Bi lateral”, which means I took a hit on both sides of my body. My right brain took the worse and my left side is like “Gumby”….So while my left side is affected by a right brain stroke, the inner workings of my brain and outlook on the world is “miscued”. I read it; I have read this on other sites. I heard it from my Neurologist and I can see it, but don’t care about the changes. Why? Can’t stop it, might as well make the best of the new me. Using Medication? Oh my, have 8 of those now every day and 6 at night. I am a walking pharmacy.


A Sample of Impulsiveness

Please watch a movie called “The Bucket List.” Edward (Jack Nicholson) and Carter (Morgan Freeman) meet in hospital where they have been given less than a year to live because of cancer. They bond, create the “kick-the-bucket” list of ten things to do before dying, and then do them. I made a self thought. YES I shall. Make a list of things I always wanted to do, but in some capacity I was restrained. This was constrained by either by work, time or family. I started my list. OK, jumping out of a perfectly good airplane and repelling was done in the military. No desires to do that again. Something simple, but dangerous….Let me think now….This has to be personal. I cheated “Death” many times so I think give the Devil his due. Warfarin is a blood thinner which makes restrictions for certain projects. Ya know, kick in that impulse. If my number is up, it’s up. I threw caution aside (Impulsive). Let’s get a tattoo. So, I bleed to death or bruise and that may kill me. (Impulsive thoughts). Are you catching on people with right brain strokes and caregivers?

Tattoo it is. Now I have to be different. I have seen too many people with the “Grim Reaper” in some form on their bodies. No good. Japanese have a “Shinigami” Yep, there we go. Something no one has around here. Where do I go? First you have to find an artist you can be comfortable with. View their work because this is forever. Check their licensure in the State of Virginia and the cleanliness of their workstations. This was all met with a high degree at Totally Naked Tattoo’s on Richmond Avenue. My artist was Nate. His high degree of professionalism to his artwork is apparent. He cares about his work and it is apparent to the quality of the piece of art I bear on my right arm. Get this folk, I did not bleed. Did I get my rear quarters handed to my physicians? I shall let you be the judge. This is the start of my bucket list. I have been told that I do not have normal blood flow in my brain. I suffer from severe arteriosclerosis in the cranium and I exist on wisps of blood rather than a flow. I am at peace with myself. If being at peace with yourself is something you want, start a bucket list.

I have found starting one has granted an inner peace within me. It does not matter what you want to do. It may be just lying down in the park and finding a 4 leaf clover. Do things you can remember. Make up with relatives you have a grudge with. Your neighbors can be included also. Shake a hand of a veteran. Smile, it’s your life my friend.


– Column by Chris DeWald

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