On June 20, 2009, I had a stroke. It was Father's Day, I picked up my son at SUNY Oswego and we drove on to Barneveld to visit my Dad and have a chicken barbecue. Somewhere along the line I notice my speech becoming more labored. I wondered if I was having an allergic reaction to the pistachio muffin I ate that morning. I felt unusually tired but didn't think a lot about it. Sometime on the ride home, my daughter called and I had a hard time speaking but still didn't think much about it.
When I did get home, my wife Maria was concerned both about my speech and that I was so tired, but I blew it off that I may have been allergic to the morning muffin. I had a couple of beers, took a brisk walk and went to bed.
The next morning, June 21, I tried getting up for work and could barely move. I still had the labored speech and my right side was heavy and hard to move. I showed and got dressed and sat on the bed and then I told Maria I needed to go to the doctor, something unheard of. I now figured I probably had Bell's Palsey. On the initial trip to the Doctor I had never been to, but had listed for 10 years, I was too early. A trip back had me seeing a PA who was alarmed at my blood pressure, said I could have Bell's Palsey but I should go to the hospital as a precaution.
Off we went to Rochester General Hospital, where they had me admitted in minutes. I was going in for an exam as Maria came in from parking the car. The triage nurse, who Maria referred to as Nurse Ratchet took a look at me and asked me to raise my eyebrows. When I did she laughed and announced I had had a stroke. With in a half hour I was hooked to an IV, CAT scanned and soon had an entourage of interns looking after me.
I was in the hospital most of that week. I would recount it but much of it is a blur. I was scanned, probed, imaged and tested, much looking for a cause and trying to figure out if another was coming. Most of my strength came back, but my speech was slower. My tongue grew to tired too fast. The right side of my face drooped fairly noticeable. On a positive note, the wrinkles on my face were soften.
Its' about 8 months later and I still am recovering. Strokes are funny things, not really a physical injury but a brain injury. Pathways the brain uses are cut off and you have to learn new ones. It goes slower at 50 years, the brain doesn't learn as quickly.
I spent the first couple of months thinking that if I healed physically everything would be fine. Now I now I have more healing and relearning. Strokes seem misunderstood. I have been told countless times that I look great. Well, damn it, the stroke didn't affect my looks and I search for a snappy come back. Having a somewhat slow tongue it rarely comes. My healing is coming slowly but surely. My face doesn't droop noticeably, I can speak much better but it exhausts me.
This is the story of what is next. I don't want it to be the whiny stroke guy blog. I do want there to be a better understanding of strokes both to prevent them, to treat them and to live with them.