Chris DeWald: Recurring strokes

It is so good to be back to writing articles. Nothing had happened to me to write about until April of this year. I had not been feeling well for about three months leading to April 2011. My blood pressure was out of control in elevation and also in sudden drops. It was necessary for me to see my General Physician once a week to attempt to regulate it. One visit turned into a setback. My body talked to me and I fell out at her office. All said and done, I spent a week back at Augusta Health with another stroke. So let’s explore this. Caregivers and survivors alike need to just be aware of this.

According to

After stroke, survivors tend to focus on rehabilitation and recovery. But, preventing another (or recurring) stroke is also a key concern. Of the 795,000 Americans who have a stroke each year, 5 to 14 percent will have a second stroke within one year. Within five years, stroke will recur in 24 percent of women and 42 percent of men.

Having one or more of these factors doesn’t mean you will have a stroke. By making simple lifestyle changes, you may be able to reduce the risk of a first or recurrent stroke.

These simple lifestyle changes can greatly reduce your chance of having a stroke:

Control your blood pressure

Find out if you have atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat that allows blood to pool in the heart and cause blood clots)

Quit smoking

Limit alcohol

Monitor your cholesterol levels

Manage your diabetes

Exercise often

Eat foods low in sodium (salt) and fat

Monitor circulation problems with the help of your doctor

Gee, right off the top we see blood pressure. Now I don’t want you to be afraid of living. Yes, strokes are a scary life changing event. They often end up with disabilities and a hard journey for any recovery no matter to whom. My first ones took place in the brain stem. I had two at once on each side of the brain stem. I did not just one being alone in my head. It is lonely up there.

This recent stroke took me through situations I had forgotten. Laying on the gurney in the ER and not caring about IV insertions. Not me for sure in that respect. Getting run to the CAT scan and getting sick from any type of movement. Just lying there and being pushed caused such horrible vertigo. I did not care about the MRI scan and being claustrophobic. My words were slurred again, my left side went on a vacation somewhere and I wanted my world to end.

Yes, I admit that my initial feelings were “no more,” how long do I have to fight you, Mr. Stroke? I was lucky again. Within two days, I regained my voice and my ability to walk. I had to fight and I did not want to give up after regrouping my thoughts. My motivation was the hospital Jell-O. I was not staying there for that anymore. When I left, I had the clonus again and the spasticity returned to the status of my first mean strokes of 2006. That has cleared up from physical therapy. My left arm has become the victim of having less power. My left hand is still numb and I can’t find the re-boot button for my hand…LOL.

I told you about me and getting depressed because I believe it is a natural thing to do. If it is justification for me on the way I felt. Granted … But I left my Superman tights at home that day … Yikes, erase that image, OK … It is what you do next when you know you are getting depressed that counts … Now, I may be that exception to the rule because I do have severe cerebral arteriosclerosis.

In other words, I am hard headed (lol) with limited blood flow supplying my brain the nutrients for survival. So this does not mean you are going to have another stroke in five years. The statistics from a good organization are not made up. I do not drink, smoke or have issues with my cholesterol. I was having issues leading to this controlling my blood pressure. The brain stem controls your heart and breathing rates and I believe this sign was warning me.

People that have had strokes, don’t let that monster get you. Oh, it bites and leaves scars. Just bite back harder. See you readers next time.

Column by Chris DeWald


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