Chris DeWald | I’ve stroked, now what

Chris DeWald | I’ve stroked, now what


I was just 50 years young when I encountered this steely beast. Was that a line from Steely Dan or the Eagles? In any case, what and where do we find help? I shall attempt to give you some hints on this through my experiences. I hope by writing this, you should not have to endure what I experienced. 

I was hit on both sides of the brain stem which affected both sides of my body.

To say I had it rough is an understatement. I hope to shed some light for anyone’s recovery and to also provide some insight to the caregiver. The first thing I noticed on my “Brain Attack”, was my hand was not concise while inside an electrical box. I then drove home as something was weird. When I emerged from my company vehicle, the road seemed more slanted than normal. In a panic, I ran across the street and grabbed a stop sign holding on for dear life. I knew I had to make it inside to get to a phone. I released the sign and I tried running. It felt like the game where you put your head on a bat and run in circles and then try and go straight. Sheer panic overwhelmed me and once inside my home, I collapsed.

Here is hint #1. Once you arrive at the hospital, insist on the tests needed to diagnose you. I can not over emphasize this. “Tell” your ER Doctor to eliminate the possibility of a stroke. is a website that will confirm there is a therapy know as tPA that is a clot busting drug. The key is that it must be administered within 3 hours to head off the possibility of disability. Although I went to the ER immediately, lack of sufficient testing within 3 hours was not done. My disability is now your benefit and I am arming you with knowledge. If this goes by you, death is another word that can accompany a stroke.

This is a good article from the Wall Street Journal :

There seems to be a mention in the article about politics and Medicare, so meander past that where it backs up the previous website. Please note that not all CAT scans

show ischemic strokes. Ischemic strokes are blood clots and not brain bleeds. For instance, my brain stem strokes did not show on a CAT scan.

So what’s next? My strokes happened on a holiday and I was admitted after falling onto a Dr in the emergency room. No diagnosis was made yet. I think they just classified me as having a Neurological Problem. 12 hours later I met a tall man that was soon to be my neurologist. He did some preliminary physical exams. I went to touch my nose and ended up punching myself in they eye. It was then I noticed I could not feel my hand. He said, Mr. DeWald, I believe you have had a stroke. You are going to an MRI immediately. Now this website will tell you what an MRI(short for Magnetic Resonance Imaging).

Soon after the exam, the neurologist informed me I had a brain stem stroke on both sides. He told me this was very serious and I was lucky right now to be alive. OK, now he had my attention. He said we have to go back to the MRI and do a subsequent test called an MRA(Magnetic Resonance Angiography). In my terms, glow in the dark stuff to show where the obstruction was and where was the blood flow or lack of flow. Want to know about an MRA. Go to:

After this test, I was advised about swollen brain, blood and all the fun stuff inside my cranium. At this time it was just surreal as “I” was bulletproof. The next day is when I found out for myself what I did not have. Someone came in and stole the left side of my body. Where’d my speech go? Why was the room bouncing from side to side? Where’s my arm and hand? I could think, therefore I am right.

Now at some point in time after day 1, I had to go to the facilities. Despite being told not to get out of bed and always call for a nurse, I did anyway. After all, I was a 50 year old man and no one needs to tell me when I can and can’t go. That is when I found my leg was stolen too. Ever try to stop yourself from hitting the floor when your left side went out for lunch? Don’t !! I made such a noise that every nurse on the floor came in. I tried to hide sliding on my keister on the wax floor. What do you say? I said “Hello”…

Now here I went to x-ray and was scolded by every nurse that was in charge of me.

I came back to an alarmed bed and now with a “purple” wrist band that warned others I was a fall patient.


Psychological aspects

I am not a doctor nor do I play one on TV. The stroke survivor lying in a bed has many worries. If they sound ludicrous, please know that they are a concern for the survivor and it is very real if he expresses it. Do not blow off a survivor as many will just stop moving forward in a recovery pattern. How do I know that? Been there, done it and have seen many people who have told me this. When I was in the hospital, I was given

Anti depression meds and I had no idea why. I was told why, but not me…I was “bulletproof”…

So survivors, it is important to know why. Ask the prescribing doctor the purpose of taking any medication. You are paying him for his expert advice. Remember, you are in charge. Take a new name. You are now the “Why” man or “Why” woman….Have it written down for you if you can’t write. It is normal to have anxiety.

Having a stroke does not list you as being “crazy”. You may drive caregivers and family members crazy, but you as a survivor have real concerns and expressing them may be difficult. For example, a nurse came into my room and told me they had to give me a shot soon after my MRA. I thought it was going to be in my IV. She revealed this syringe with an elongated needle that appeared to be for shark gaffing or oil exploration. I was told to pull up my shirt and she headed for my stomach. I said “Whoaaaa” !!!! She explained it was my first injection of Heparin that my neurologist ordered. Here is the best website a layman can understand

I refused it as that needle should have been the tip of the space shuttle. The neurologist came in soon after with the words of possible dying without the Heparin. This overcame Captain Ahab’s Harpoon. If you like this article, next weeks shall be starting on therapy, insurance companies, social security disability and “You”…


– Column by Chris DeWald



Have a story idea or a news tip? Email editor Chris Graham at [email protected]. Subscribe to AFP podcasts on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPandora and YouTube.