Both Sides Now

A Unique Perspective on His Survival by Stroke Survivor and Comedian

Most stroke survivors look back on their CVA and remark “What the …?” They have a point. We here at Stroke Central have considered strokes to be pretty lousy. However, according to a recent study by the Institute of Discovering Things That Make You Go “What the …?” in the first place, we have learned in almost every scenario there is a positive side. So in the spirit of fairness let’s take a look at both.

BAD: BANG! You’re disabled. Once you learn to walk again it takes you a week to get from your front door to your car because you now move at the speed of rust.

GOOD: Finally, you can mellow out and take your time. Listen to the birds. Smell the roses. If you live in an overcrowded city, you’ll also smell the stench of rotten garbage as you lumber by mountains of trash bags piled curbside like beached whales. Now there’s an aroma that will forever be seared into the memory banks of your damaged brain. But hey, isn’t it great to be alive?

BAD: Speaking of memory, congratulations! You no longer have one. Did you lock your apartment door when you left… turn off the gas… feed Mister Bottomsly… mail those checks — who knows? So you slog back in a panic only to discover you did do all those things. Your therapist suggests using Post-it® Notes to jog your memory. However, you need so many you end up depleting your 401K to buy them.

GOOD: Sure, your memory is shot. But now when you read the daily headlines you instantly forget them — no more worrying and waking up in the middle of the night screaming in asphyxiating terror. Spoiler alerts are a thing of the past. Wanna tell me what happened in the finale of “Game Of Thrones”? Go right ahead… ‘cause it’s all new to me.

BAD: Depression — brings on feelings of anger, helplessness, embarrassment and shame. This is usually triggered by your insurance company’s lack of coverage.

GOOD: You yell at the insurance representative like a parent at a Little League game which, as it turns out, is more effective than all those weird mouth exercises your speech therapist has you practice.

sticky notes with happy and sad faces drawn on them

BAD: Cognitive problems. You’re embarrassed because you can’t follow conversations at parties.

GOOD: You’ve figured out how to make this work by pretending you’re from some exotic foreign country and English is your second language. This instantly makes you fascinating, especially when you regale everyone with stories about being a poor shepherd boy in Kazakhstan tending your flock at the foot of the Ural Mountains. Everyone will swoon and want to take you home as their pet. Well done!

So, you see, there really are some good aspects to having a stroke. But you gotta keep it on the down low otherwise everyone will assume we’re enjoying ourselves too much. Before you know it they’ll start jack hammering wheelchair ramps, revoking our handicap parking permits, eliminating mass transit discounts and early boarding privileges. Then you’ll really look back on your stroke and say, “What the …?”

DVDs of John’s award-winning one-man show, Brain Freeze, are available at For booking information, contact John at

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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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!