My Stroke Experience



Rita Rose in a gardenI am a stroke survivor and have been reading Stroke Connection since 2009, when I had a stroke at 57. It has given me a renewed attitude toward living with a stroke; so much in fact that I no longer take speaking for granted. After my stroke I was determined to start writing again. My journey was a long one and I still have lingering symptoms Rather than writing and submitting a piece of prose, I would like to share my experience of having a stroke in a poem entitled Stroke.

Stroke

Never imagined this would happen to me.

You stole into the night

While I was gazing up at the waxing moon,

You melted darkness like a pall over luminescence

Deeply scorching my brain; an internal

Sanguine geyser spurting… spurting;

Shaping my destiny…

Baffling was blindness which draped my lids;

A shadowy curtain frightfully inching over eyes

— wide opened

And, the man in the Moon, the

Olivine Basalt rock with smiling face withdrew

But not before my mind’s eye caught

His vacant befuddled OMG expression

Staring down from the Heavens,

Observing my impending curtain call….

I staggered from window to easy chair

Seizing ridged Sanitex patterns as if Braille

To guide my numb finger tips, feeling the way;

My toes, clumsily thumping door moldings,

An inebriated gait, one would say

As I bounced wall to wall in the dark —

Skewed, was my mouth trying to utter.

Words drooled and tumbled

A jumbled gobbledygook —

Was I making sense?

No, not at all!

Stroke! You almost silenced the poet,

The mother, aunt, friend, person;

Sticking tongue to the roof of head,

Slapping brain against skull until it bled a frank red.

Impaired and weak were left limbs, speech, and sight.

Incoherent, was I, as words Willy-nilly spilled

From this drooping mouth, yet my inner

Vision could see letters standing upright.

Ears, heard the alphabet recited correctly,

An auditory mirage — if you will —

In a hospital I conversed

In gibberish while blind as a bat

Terrified yet perceptive

Realizing I had a stroke;

Angry by this hostile takeover inside my head—

This killer of animate soul!

Physicians peered while commanding

Close eyes… raise arms… purse lips then blow.

Blow! Laughter burst from my inner brain lash.

Pseudobulbar affect, doctors agreed.

I was desperate to articulate, to make them understand

They were wrong!

My outbursts were merely triggered by memory

Of Lauren Bacall telling Bogie to put his lips together and...

Well, if you enjoy classic movies,

The ones shown on TCM television, you would know —

Unable to speak, my thoughts played

like an old movie reel.

Unrelenting was hilarity

and in a suspenseful Hitchcockian way,

My speech restored… the lens of my eyes focused…

My vision miraculously returned,

not one hundred percent, I may add.

Residual weakness persisted in my left arm and leg,

It was a badge of an internal battle I had fought.

My sure smile was replaced with a

Lopsided left lip and my left eye sagged.

And, peculiar was my new childlike disposition;

Another discernible scar allowing the world to know

I almost lost my precious life!

I was a stroke survivor.

Having this new affliction taught me

to have a sense of humor,

To joke about it,

whenever catching friends and strangers

Rudely gawking at my uneven face —

Half mask…half muse…I would say.

Unlike so many who had been paralyzed,

I was grateful to be given another chance to

Contemplate the Waxing moon,

To admire the cheery Olivine face, so incandescent.

I was permitted to ponder the meaning

of having this stroke,

To stand up to the stealer of life

who almost extinguished my poetic soul —

Stroke, who sent me hurling at Grim Reaper’s door,

So thankful he was not at home

to escort me on the ship of no return —

Stroke, who stole into the night

You did not prove to be my end but a fresh beginning;

Allowing my heart to write Poetry and one more verse

For the Olivine man in the moon who, like a good friend,

Illuminated unexpected good fortune for me to see

As he winked across the sky, not turning away;

seeming quite content,

Pleased I was still alive to bask in his beams — and while

Lulling me in his shadow —

had caught me with pen in hand

As I slumbered;

Allowing me to have sweet moon dreams once again

This information is provided as a resource to our readers. The tips, products or resources listed or linked to have not been reviewed or endorsed by the American Stroke Association.

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Stroke Rehabilitation

Making the Best Decisions at Discharge After Stroke

The type of rehabilitation and support systems a survivor receives at discharge can strongly influence health outcomes and recovery. In this, the first part of a two-part series on stroke rehab, we offer guidance for the decision-making process required when it’s time to leave the hospital.

What to Expect from Outpatient Rehab

After stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type of rehabilitation. Outpatient therapy may consist of Several types of therapy. Whether a patient is referred to inpatient or outpatient therapy depends on the level of medical care required.

What to Expect in Stroke Rehab

Following a stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type rehabilitation. In this second of our two-part series, we want to alleviate some of the mystery, fear and anxiety around the inpatient rehab part of the stroke recovery journey.
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AHA-ASA Resources

The Support Network

When faced with challenges recovering from heart disease or stroke, it’s important to have emotional support. That is why we created a network to connect patients and loved ones with others during their journey.

Caregiver Guide to Stroke

The Caregiver Guide to Stroke is meant to help caregivers better navigate the recovery process and the financial and social implications of a stroke.

Stroke Support Group Finder

To find a group near you, simply enter your ZIP code and a mile radius. If your initial search does not pull up any groups, try

Tips for Daily Living Library

This volunteer-powered library gathers tips and ideas from stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals all over the country who’ve created or discovered adaptive and often innovative ways to get things done!

Stroke Family Warmline

The Warmline connects stroke survivors and their families with an ASA team member who can provide support, helpful information or just a listening ear.

Let's Talk About Stroke Patient Information Sheets

Let's Talk About Stroke is a series of downloadable patient information sheets, created by the American Stroke Association, that presents information in a question-and-answer format that's brief, easy to follow and easy to read.

Request Free Stroke Information Packets

Fill out this online form to request free information about a variety of post-stroke topics.
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Stroke & Parts of the Brain

When Stroke Affects the Occipital Lobe

Our occipital lobe, the smallest of the four lobes of the cerebral cortex, controls how we visually interpret our world.

When Stroke Affects the Cerebellum

The cerebellum contains 80 percent of our neurons. Its job seems to be to make things better. We talked with neuroscientist Jeremy Schmahmann about how stroke affects the “little brain.”

When Stroke Affects the Parietal Lobe

The parietal lobe helps us make sense of sensory information, like where our bodies and body parts are in space, our sense of touch, and the part of our vision that deals with the location of objects.

When Stroke Affects the Frontal Lobe

Of the four lobes that make up the cerebral cortex, the frontal lobe is the largest. It plays a huge role in many of the functions that make us human — memory, language, movement, judgment, abstract thinking.

When Stroke Affects the Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe has several functions, mainly involved with memory, perception and language.

When Stroke Affects the Brain Stem

The brain stem serves as a bridge in the nervous system. It sits at the top of the spinal column in the center of the brain. When a stroke happens there, it can cause a few different deficits and, in the most severe cases, can lead to locked-in syndrome.

When Stroke Affects the Thalamus

The thalamus can be thought of as a "relay station," receiving signals from the brain’s outer regions (cerebral cortex), interpreting them, then sending them to other areas of the brain to complete their job.
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Departments

Stroke Notes

Stroke-related news you can use about new scientific findings, public policy, programs and resources.

Readers Room

Articles, poems and art submitted by stroke survivors and their loved ones.

Life Is Why

Everyone has a reason to live a longer, healthier life. These stroke survivors, caregivers and others share their 'whys'. We'd love for you to share yours, too!

Everyday Survival

Practical tips and advice for day-to day living after stroke.

Life At The Curb

A unique perspective on survival by comedian and stroke survivor John Kawie.

Simple Cooking

Cooking at home can be a daunting task, but a rewarding one for your diet and lifestyle (and your wallet). Making small changes in your diet is important to your heart health. Here are simple, healthy and affordable recipes and cooking tips.

Helping Others Understand

Stroke affects people differently and many of the effects of stroke can be complicated. Helping friends and family understand how a stroke is affecting a survivor can help everyone involved.

Support Showcase

Our new department highlighting the good work being done by stroke support groups from around the nation. If you are part of a successful support group we should consider featuring, let us know!