After Stroke, Attitude Is Everything!



I have a history of hypertension, at least that’s what my doctors said. I never worried much about it.

I don’t remember what the numbers were, but I knew they weren’t good. I thought, ‘I am young and healthy; I’ll get serious about it later.’

I felt just fine. I rationalized that at 6’2” and 230 pounds, I wasn’t really overweight for my height — not like so many others. Sure, I knew I could stand to lose 20 pounds, but I figured it would be easy and I could do it whenever I wanted to. I didn’t have a regular exercise routine, but I told myself, “I walk all day at work.” My eating habits were erratic at best. No breakfast, lunch and dinner for me — I was too busy. I was always eating on the go. And last but not least, I did not address the many stresses in my life.

So let’s review: untreated high blood pressure, overweight, no regular exercise, poor eating habits and daily stress. What’s wrong with this picture?

Time passes so fast, and the time to get serious about addressing all those things passed. Then in January 2008, I had a minor stroke, but I knew the F.A.S.T. warning signs so I reacted fast and drove myself to the hospital. I didn’t have any deficits and returned to work in a month.

Then in September 2009, I experienced the signs of a stroke again. I was at work and drove myself to the same hospital — is that called déjà vu? Leading up to that stroke, everything was discombobulated: I had stress in every area of my life, and I wasn’t dealing with anything effectively.

Plus, I had gotten very inconsistent about my meds.

The stroke in September 2009 was classified as a TIA, but its effects were more severe than the first stroke. I was off work for a year and when I returned I had speech and mobility deficits. I retired two months later.

A stroke or TIA presents many lessons, which I chose to ignore the first time, but not the second. I started taking care of myself in all areas: I addressed the stressful things in my life. I started and maintain an exercise routine. I do my best to eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, low-fat dairy and protein. I relax more and enjoy a social life at the After Stroke program at the Glendora stroke support group. Spiritually, I keep the faith and put God first. Although I am now retired, I started back to school to earn a degree in organizational leadership. My friend and caregiver, nursing assistant Wanda Newsome, has been tremendously supportive and helpful in all this.

We survivors must take care of ourselves — take our medications, check and maintain our blood pressure, eat the proper food, establish and maintain an exercise regimen, reduce the stresses in life and relax. Then your self-esteem and enthusiasm will flourish.

My motto is “Attitude is everything.” I never asked “why me,” and was never depressed as a result of these strokes. Because of my faith I maintained a positive attitude. A bad attitude sets you up to fail, but a good attitude sets you up for success.

In all matters of consequence, never, never give up.

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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.

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.

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.

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 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
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Stroke & Parts of the Brain

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.

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!