From the Far Side of a Stroke

I am one of the lucky ones.

I had a stroke on December 14, 2019, (maybe because of Afib that I didn’t know about until 3 days before the stroke when I had cataract surgery).

I was home alone and my phone was in another room.  I fell and ended up on the thick rug under the dining room table and couldn’t get up. My left arm, hand and leg were sort of out of my control, but I could think straight. I skootched on my back to where I remembered my phone was. That took maybe 20 minutes. I’ll explain later why time mattered.

I called the retired man I live with instead of 911 because I didn’t want the EMT’s to break down the door and let the dog out. (Dumb logic. Call 911. Time matters.) He was home in 10 minutes and called 911.

Here is why time matters if someone is having a stroke. There is a drug, TPA, called “the clot buster,” that can break up the clot that is blocking blood flow to the brain. It must be given by IV within 3-4 hours of the beginning of the stroke. The protocol requires a brain CT scan and/or head MRI before it can be given to be sure the stroke is caused by a clot and not a brain bleed.

After a brain CT scan and a head MRI, I was given TPA. Before the drug took effect no one could understand my speech and I couldn’t control my left arm and hand. Within a couple of hours, my speech was normal and my left side was getting better.

I was one of the lucky ones.

After  2 days in Neurology ICU and a week on the Rehab Unit of the hospital, I am pretty much good as before.

A few things I’ve learned:

  1. If you are alone, have your phone close enough to touch–in a pocket, in your bra or underwear or in a pouch hung around your neck (someone please design and market these!)
  2. If you are alone and  think you are or might be having a stroke, call 911 FIRST, even if you know they’ll break down the locked front door and freak out the dog. THEN call your significant other.
  3. Every minute matters if you’re having a stroke. There is a drug called TPA (see link above) that could save your life and/or the function of your brain and body. But you have to get it within 3-4 hours of the start of the stroke. That includes time for the ambulance to come and take you to the hospital, get you into the ER, and get a CT scan of your head and/or get an MRI of your brain. Not all strokes qualify for TPA. These tests help doctors know who is eligible.
  4. CALL 911 FIRST. Even if you can’t talk, they’ll figure it out.
  5. If you have a stroke, let people know and ask them to pray for you. I did. And I could feel those prayers surrounding me and holding me up. Hard to describe and impossible to explain, but it did help, tremendously. Thank you, friends.
  6. Those Life Alert things with the commercial (“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”) we all laughed at when we were younger aren’t a joke. Give it some serious consideration. I did, in the hospital. I now have an Apple Watch, thanks to the retired man I live with. I bought Apple Watch for Dummies, but all I can do so far is make a call, answer a call, read a text or email. Most of the time.
  7. My present lack of strength and stamina are mostly because I rarely exercised before the stroke. Didn’t like it, didn’t want to, so I didn’t. Don’t be like me. Go for a walk. Often. Aging will go better that way.
  8. I’m not sure how much of my current limitations are from before the stroke or if they are complicated by subtle stroke deficits. I do know they won’t get better without more effort and discipline from me. If you’d like to still pray for me, that’d be helpful and appreciated.

I am one of the lucky ones. I did get TPA in time apparently to stop the stroke. One thing I read said 1 in 10 people are cured by TPA. I think I got close.

I am very grateful.

 

 

Published in: on January 25, 2020 at 5:18 pm  Comments (7)  
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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thank you, Robin for your story. I appreciate the information and also knowing that you are on the road to recovery. Thank you for sharing! You will remain in our prayers!

  2. Thanks for letting us all know that you are okay, and for the reminder to keep the phone on you. Nothing beats planning, except prayer.

    I ran into a gal from Broughton who had a stroke from clots. It took a great deal out of her, but she managed to recover to pretty near 100%. She ain’t half the man you are, and that goes for me too. En Schalla

  3. Beautifully written, Robin, and SO important. I have an Apple Watch, and the emergency call feature is the main reason why. Keeping you still in prayer–you and “the retired man you live with!”

  4. Robin, I’m SO grateFULL you were one of the lucky ones. Prayers continued. 💜🌀✌️

  5. Dear Robin, It was so wonderful to see you this morning! We are ALL blessed that you have recovered so well, as you are not only a valued friend, but also an inspiration to so many.
    The advice in your blog is wonderful. Stay well.😘

  6. Good post. And yes, you are one of the lucky ones.

    Luvya

  7. So helpful, thanks! And very best wishes for your continuing recovery.


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