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.