Today’s message is brought you on behalf of the Canadian Heart & Stroke Foundation.
During most of my recent hospitalization, I was kept in the ISU – Integrated Stroke Unit – one floor below the Oncology Ward, who didn’t have an open bed for me.
I was easy to care for since I was fully mobile, even with my IV stand in tow. I know how to unplug and silence the alarms so I can go to the bathroom myself. I can feed myself. I can shower myself. I can communicate.
I most certainly felt guilty taking up a bed.
The level of dedication and care by the staff on that floor is most honourable. I was surrounded by patients who have had strokes. It was not a pretty sight to watch. Men and women – most maybe 10 to 20 years older than me, a few younger, several older. They were working painstakingly hard to earn back basic privileges to live their life. To walk. To eat by themselves. To speak. To try to regain fine motor skills by placing a big block in a square. Many were angry. They screamed. They shuffled along the corridors with calm therapists. One step ………. Two steps ……………….. Three steps. Speech therapists worked for hours.
I heard many family members cry 😦
Two-thirds of people who have a stroke are hospitalized.
9 in 10 Canadians have AT LEAST ONE risk factor!
Almost 80% of strokes CAN be prevented with a healthy lifestyle.
Let’s pretend for a moment. As you creep into your fifties, your risk factors go up. Another 10 -15 years and you’ve landed squarely in the red stroke zone.
You’ve indulged in one … two … three of the risks above – or have another inherent risk factor. You’ve managed to buy time up until now because you were young. Your blood pressure has been high and you haven’t reduced your risks. You’ll get to it some day.
But today, you haven’t been feeling well. Inside your brain, your high blood pressure has weakened the walls of the arteries inside your brain. You’ve had a pretty stressful day, a stressful drive home and now you have to race out the door to grab a deep dish pizza with everything on it and a few drinks with your friends. Pass me the salt!
You arrive at the restaurant and high five everyone! Laughs! Jokes! Good times. You sit down to order a drink. Unknown to you … an artery just ruptured inside your brain. The aneurysm causes damage to your brain. You feel numb. You are confused? What? You don’t know what is going on and your voice is garbled. You try to lift your arm to alert your friends, but you can’t.
Luckily one of the staff is trained and noticed one side of your face drooping.
He rushes over, startling your friends.
“Hello! Are you OK? Can you speak?”
Your response is slurred.
“Can you raise both your arms?”
You can’t raise one.
The server tells your friends that you are having a stroke and he is calling 9-1-1. Your friends catch you as you become dizzy and slump in the chair.
Blood flow has been disrupted to the left hemisphere of your brain and the brain cells are not receiving oxygen.
The ambulance arrives and the clock starts ticking. They have hours to treat the stroke and minimize brain damage. The EMTs radio ahead to the hospital with your vital information and a team is assembled. Incoming stroke victim.
You are rushed through the Emergency sliding doors on a stretcher and taken into Acute Care. The emergency staff stabilizes your breathing and heart function. They work quickly and efficiently to prepare you for a brain scan to determine which type of stroke you’ve had.
Today it is a Hemorrhagic stroke.
The Emergency doctors must stop the bleeding in your brain and choose the best plan, either medication or surgery. They are talking to you … trying to gauge your alertness and find out if there is paralysis.
“Do you have a headache?” the doctor asks. You try to tell him that you’ve had one all day, but you can’t make your mouth form the words. Did she understand you?
The Neurosurgeon is paged stat to Emergency. He looks at your scans and decides that surgery is required to fix the damaged artery and control the bleeding in your Temporal Lobe. You are fortunate it isn’t in the Cerebellum, as that will affect so many aspects of day-to-day living.
Your In Case of Emergency (ICE) contact is notified that you have suffered a stroke and are being raced into emergency surgery. Your family won’t arrive until you after you are taken to the OR. Your friends have reached out to drive them so they arrive safely.
The surgery is complete and you are in recovery. The neurosurgeon comes out to talk to your family to discuss the size and location of the aneurysm, how long it was without blood flow and what could be expected. He’s not sure if there is permanent damage. Time will tell.
Your family comes into see you. Hours later they are by your side as you are wheeled by an orderly to Room C5 77 in the Lakeridge Health Oshawa hospital.
You have a long recovery road ahead of you.
Now, go back in time and change something – just one thing – to reduce your risk today. Because the recovery road is long. The price is steep.
This might have been a pretty brutal read, but that is because I love you! Please take care of yourself. We can’t change everything but we should change anything we can.
For more information, please go to the source of my information : Canadian Heart & Stroke
This timely Heart & Stroke article was posted just after my blog. Read about Glass Tiger’s Alan Frew as he – only 58 at the time of his stroke – reflects on it’s affect on his life and his recovery: ‘Was I going to be an invalid forever?’