Wild Thing


A Unique Perspective on His Survival by Stroke Survivor and Comedian John Kawie

Marilyn’s been spending a lot of time lately crouching, stroking and exclaiming, “That’s a good boy.” She’s also been obsessing over leashes and collars. Is my wife’s inner mistress longing to re-create the 50 Shades flogging scene? Nope, even more exciting. We have just become first time dog owners. Chewy.com, Bully Pizzle Sticks and poop bags are now part of our search history. Our ’04 Civic’s spit-covered rear windows are another dead giveaway that we’ve entered the land of dog-ownerdom.

Travis is an 8-year-old, 14-pound Norwich Terrier. In the canine world that makes him AARP eligible. Still, a dog’s a dog and he needs to be walked twice a day along with all the other responsibilities. Place a gun to the head of a stroke survivor and tell him he has to do one of two things: 1) Take care of a pet. 2) Spend an extra week in the hospital. He’s going hospital.

But we lucked out. Travis is the size of a throw pillow and the perfect stroke survivor dog … chill, doesn’t jump or bark and most importantly walks at my pace.

Then there’s Rumi, Travis’s 5th-floor buddy. He’s a mix: part terrier and part juvenile delinquent. A small caliber yet high velocity projectile of problems fired from the Saturday night special of wickedness. The target? Me. This is an animal that has three things on his mind: peeing, pooping, and knocking me down. If I wrote a Rumi biography, these would be some of the chapter titles:

1) “Attack Without Warning”

2) “I Can Jump On Anything”

3) “Stroke Survivors Taste Good”

Travis (l) and his trouble-making buddy, Rumi

One day we were asked to dog-sit Wackman. Marilyn and Travis were out shopping at — where else — Petco, leaving me alone to deal with the Velociraptor from “Jurassic Park.” When Rumi was handed off to me in the lobby, I was greeted with relentless barking and a Crane Kick to my personal regions. As I limped (from the kick, not the stroke) toward the elevator Rumi went into full reverse thrust, because the last thing he wanted was to be with me. Luckily our lobby floor is slippery enough to luge on, so he didn’t get very far, and we made it into the elevator.

I struggled with the leash, a wild animal and an elevator button all with one hand. Every time I reached for #12 he jerked it down to another floor. 9, 10, 11… finally we arrive. He drags me down the hall to our apartment because there’s a force in the universe that overcomes him. It pulls one dog’s nose to another dog’s butt. In this case, Travis’s. His pal isn’t in, but there’s enough essence of butt to convince Rumi he’s in there somewhere. He searches the apartment more thoroughly than a proctologist probing for polyps. Still, no Travis. Rumi goes into red-alert mode, ricocheting from table to sofa to chairs burrowing his face in every cushion and tearing up the place like Scarface minus his little friend. I figured I’d use a little reverse psychology, remain calm and pour myself some red wine. Then he put a jujitsu move on the glass which gave our ivory sofa a Grateful Dead-tie-dyed look.

My affected hand is still being surgically removed from his throat. But for that moment it actually functioned. Hey, this could be a rehab breakthrough.

Rumi’s available for any stroke survivors out there. Make me an offer.

DVDs of John’s award-winning one-man show, Brain Freeze, are available at Amazon.com. For booking information, contact John at jkawie@aol.com.

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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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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!