Sharp-Dressed Man

When John is invited to a wedding he discovers his nice Italian suits are a lot more convoluted than my stroke-friendly wardrobe of crew necks, polos and jeans.

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

When my cousin’s wedding invitation arrived I thought, “Fantastic! A chance to finally wear one of my Ermenegildo Zegna suits hanging lonely in the closet.” Sure, they were pricey, but definitely worth the splurge.

Why? Well, for sheer panache the Italians have it covered. Their unrivaled workmanship and style create a kind of understated 60’s cool. (Think Marcello Mastroianni fawning over Anita Ekberg in “La Dolce Vita.”) Any tailor worth his weight in pincushions will tell you this is the orchid of the haberdasher forest. The fit must be “perfetto!” If not, you might as well be wearing one of those tuxedo T-shirts and cargo pants. Take the trousers — there should always be a slight break at the top of the shoe. Too short and you’re Goober at the Mayberry church social. Too long and you’re saggin’ like a homie.

The last time I embraced my Marcello-ness was back during the “Balloon Boy” hoax of ’09. While I’m sure my waistline is still a svelte 31”, my wife (Miss Positive) reminds me of those bourbon balls I wolfed down during the holidays. Marilyn’s convinced my threads are going to fit me like an Italian sausage casing. One wrong move and the whole thing explodes like I’m a human party favor blowing worsted wool confetti all over the place. She starts quoting Burgess Meredith’s character from the first “Rocky.” “You don’t wanna be a tomato, do ya? So you better start breathin’ lightnin’ buddy, and doin’ some sit-ups.”

These suits are a lot more convoluted than my stroke-friendly wardrobe of crew necks, polos and jeans. So Marilyn has to help me get dressed, which is more Mommy-putting-on-my-snow-pants than Marcello-chic. Back in Kindergarten I pretended I was a knight with my squire suiting me up in my armor preparing for a joust, but at 63 a fantasy like that can land you in the rubber room.

Choosing a shirt and tie is like choosing between Brigitte Bardot and Sophia Loren.

Fortunately, this is a wedding and not a funeral, so there’s time for our own dress rehearsal where we can split up the duties and go over the playbook. Right off the bat, I pick out a suit. Navy. Boom! Decision made. Shirt and tie? Not so easy. As soon as I zero in on one combo I end up liking another. Apparently the CVA has left me with major DD (decision disorder). It’s as if I’m my 13-year-old self trying to choose between Brigitte Bardot and Sophia Loren (a conundrum that still stumps me). Finally, I reach a solution. I turn to Marilyn and say, “You choose.” And she does.

Slipping into the shirt, I immediately have a problem dealing with those Tic Tac size buttons, which make me feel like I’m performing one-handed laparoscopic surgery on a gnat. Next Marilyn hoists up the pants and holds them waist high like it’s a hula hoop. This way I can tuck my shirt in. Then I suck it up, she hooks, buttons and I’m in.

Lastly, the accessory that can make or break the whole look, as well as our marriage: the necktie. There’s nothing more exasperating than trying to teach someone else to tie a tie around your own neck backwards when you can’t remember how to do it yourself. It begins with kind, cooing, patient/caregiver speak: “OK honey, atta girl, through the loop and…Ooopsie! Just a teensy bit too long.” Soon we’re slinging blood-curdling rants at each other a la George and Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe.” PG exerpt: “NO, NO! HOLD it. THEN loop it... That’s NOT what you said!... DON’T TIGHTEN IT NOW!... YOU TOLD me to!...”

Somehow out of this bubbling cauldron a knot magically appears. I slide into the jacket, look in the mirror and there it is. That 60’s cool. Satisfied, we break open a bottle of Valpolicella, and as we toast to our success, the stroke slips away. Well worth the effort.


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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!