Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Have A Stroke--Oh What Fun


They say no one ever expects a stroke and I can testify to that. I don't even know why I woke up that morning except to guess that it was one of my usual 4 AM trips to go urinate. I didn't get that far or pee on myself, either. but I did find myself on the bedroom carpet, wondering how I got there and very angry that I couldn't get up. I couldn't even get into a sitting position, and God knows I tried 20 or 30 times. I didn't feel like I could holler very loud for help, so I used my cane to beat on the metal underside of the bed and everything else within reach. I couldn't reach the nice hollow bedroom door that probably would have made a more resounding noise through the house.

It seemed like an eternity that I was pounding, but maybe it was only 20 or 30 minutes. I finally made enough noise to draw some attention--but my deaf Mother and my deaf visiting Aunt were the only ones in the house and they couldn't lift me up, so calls went out to Jesus, Bubba, and the ambulance service. My brother-in-law, accustomed as he used to be to lifting or aiding my sister (a diabetic, a dialysis patient, who'd lost her leg beneath the knee) managed to get me up pretty easily. But I was still disoriented.

It's amazing how good it can feel to simply get upright again like any other human being. Getting up again made me tearful, and I didn't even yet know that I'd had a stroke. I can't express it any better than that. I have only the vaguest memory of the ambulance arriving or of my trip in it to the hospital. I don't think I can recall anything about the ER or being admitted. Some time later, I guess, I became slowly conscious of the swarm of nurses poking, prodding, stabbing, and questioning me. My bodily functions became public knowledge (for a month to come).

I can't complain, though, since I got up a couple of times while not being observed closely enough and promptly fell down again! My memory is clear about one of them (one's butt absorbing the impact, the back of one's head snapping back and absorbing a little more! Trust me, you don't want the experience.

The nurses took an almost personal insult about those falls, accusing me of wanting to get them fired. I was not in my natural state of mind, or I would have been less kind and informed them that it was of no consequence to me if they all got fired--there would be new ones to take their place. I was a patient and a little bit out of my mind. I knew what reason was, but couldn't be reasoned with if I woke up in the dark of night about to perform some bodily function in my hospital bed! The famous "call button" with which to summon nurses always started out in plain sight, but by the time I was desperately groping for it, it had shifted into some lower position and I couldn't reach it! The nurses were still chattering about ways to restrain me, but not one of them offered to tape the call-button's wire or tie it with string to the bed rail so that it wouldn't slide down the bed-rail while I was merely tossing and turning in bed. How can such simple things be overlooked by hospital policy, I kept wondering?! Oh, well...idiots prevail in institutions and bean-counters soon ruin every useful product known to man.

Most of the nurses will proclaim that it's okay to stay in bed and soil the sheets if need be, but that was something I could never absorb. Such loss of reasonable control was too shocking for my mental structure. Wetting or soiling the bed was a taboo and had always been so. Mothers taught us that years ago, right? Hell, most of my parents' generation didn't even think it was okay to do it in the road (unless it was a dusty country road!!!

Here are some stroke characteristics that did or didn’t develop in me:

1. Changes in personality—I don’t think so, though as I look back on the degree of patience that I had for the first three weeks in hospital, I might call THAT a personality change! Patience is so UNLIKE ME! But, otherwise, I have been about the same, as mean as a snake, that is.
2. Pain—yes, but only stiffness and soreness. I feel “banged up” as if I’d been in a minor auto accident. Using over the counter muscle treatments seems to help a lot.
3. Swallowing or chewing problems—no.
4. Tiredness—yes, but not much worse than I had before the stroke when I only had diabetes and anemia to blame for it.
5. Memory, old or new things—I’ve only had trouble recalling small things, such as the usual “mental blocks” I’ve been getting since I was 40 or so. I’m not sure I’ve had to learn anything new, at least nothing of noticeable difficulty. So maybe yes, in small degrees.
6. Vision—has definitely decreased, so yes, though I think that was happening before the stroke. It’s hard to avoid thinking the stroke made it worse. I have appointments with eye doctors, but I’m getting damn impatient about it. I’m afraid to haul off and start driving again because of my current sight.
7. Thinking and talking—no, except when it came to working the computer keyboard. It’s not pitiful, but it’s hard on me to go from a high level of proficiency to a much lower one. Also, my decrease in good vision makes it difficult to be casually reading the computer screen as I used to do.
8. Weakness—some, yes. But I already felt that way.
9. Paralysis—none.
10. Difficulty concentrating—only a little. Some few emails continue to arrive from people requesting Blogger help from me and I’ve found it hard to focus on any of it. Maybe I’m just too busy worrying about me!

That’s “yes” to only 4 of the 10 items above (I think), so that’s relatively good. By sheer luck I managed to avoid the worst ones! Who can predict what damage a blood-clot in the brain may do except that you'll likely end up in a major war with 25-year-old nurses (The older ones must be reserved for surgery or something, I barely ever saw one older than 30!)


  1. Well, then -- doesn't sound too bad having a stroke. I'm looking forward to it.

    BTW, don't know if you're using the Firefox browser, but all of us with lousy eyesight should be. It allows more or less unlimited screen font enlargement...

  2. How freakin' terrible that must have been and be! God, I think I rather just have the big one and leave quickly, rather than being that helpless and dependent.

    I'm so sorry Ron and wish you well in overcoming this experience.

    Thank you for sharing may help some of us at some point.

    I just don't know how I will handle such a situation...I suppose there isn't much you can do but go with the slow flow of things.

    Again...I'm so sorry.

  3. I think Larry has the right view, so far. But some people are paralyzed and lose speech for long periods of time, and that's the kind of reall bad hell that Mushy is picturing. I was only helpless for that short period of time and have since irritated everyone by getting up to go places and rish threshholds on my own. Some of the things that were hard when I first came home are now easy, though I persist in being Careful with a capital C. I'm not running, but I didn't run anywhere before the stroke!


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