Take Good Care of My Baby

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

When a repairman says, “Here’s the situation....” I usually freeze up and brace myself for the worst. However, when I heard the bad news about my old MacBook Pro laptop, I was more flabbergasted than frozen.

By old I don’t mean drugstore-reading-glasses-middle-age old. I’m talking assisted-living-where’s-my-medication old. Today’s technology makes my Mac seem like a mutant Etch-A-Sketch that haphazardly sprouted a keyboard. But I think its simplicity is beautiful. I also think Bob Dylan sings better than Wayne Newton, so to each his own.

Sure, the screen flickers like strobe lights at an ELO concert, it crashes more than Evil Knievel, and the hard drive is louder than a Harley. These quirks are a source of amusement to my geeky computer friends who view anything older than five months as an artifact in the lava lamp category: useless, quaint and immediate dumpster material. I’ve tried to let go, but we have history. It anticipates where I’m going. It knows where I’ve been... my searches, my bookmarks. Besides, I have fevered visions of it lying lonely on the bottom of a recycling bin only to eventually be crushed in a compactor with its keys spitting out like the teeth of a washed-up prizefighter.

Then one day I pressed “start” and nothing happened. No matter what key I hit, Mac never woke up.

I immediately sprang into action and curled up into a fetal position hoping it would get better. Well, it didn’t. I called Apple’s 1-800-Dial-A-Prayer. A robo-voice said that someone would help me as soon as they finished serving the entire population of China. Finally, an Apple shaman got on and recommended a simple, foolproof spell that required pressing a nutso combination of keys all at the same time: option, command, shift and the start button. Simple? Try doing that one-handed. With the help of desperation and a #2 pencil stuck between my teeth I pecked and pressed them all. Nothing. It was as unresponsive as my first girlfriend.

So, I cabbed it to the Soho Apple store and was ushered to their Genius Bar. For those not using a computer named after a fruit, this is Apple’s version of an emergency room minus the gurneys, IVs, and oversized flat-screen playing an endless loop of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper.”

Their doctors are tattooed millennial hipsters wearing camouflage cargo shorts sporting Smith Brothers cough-drop beards with Crayola® Crayon dyed hair.

Normally I prefer a more mature physician with seasoned experience. But today I wanted youth and I got Tony, “Wild Watermelon” coif and all. He gave it to me straight, “Here’s the situation…” The rest was unintelligible tech-speak so I’ll translate: “Electricity from the power cord was not reaching the logic board rendering it lifeless.”

Man, this sounded familiar. Replace “electricity” with blood, “power-cord” with artery, “logic-board” with brain and … OH MY GOD, MY COMPUTER HAD THE SAME EXACT STROKE I HAD, A DISSECTED CAROTID ARTERY!!

In an instant, I went from stroke survivor to caregiver. I can’t be a caregiver ... I’m a care-receiver! Have been for 20 years. Stroke survivors are delicate, complicated, the orchids of the rehab forest. Knee replacements? They’re the weeds. Let them be the caregivers.

However, there comes a time when duty calls. “Hey you,” duty says, “stop whining!” So, I did, and had a private moment with Mac before Tony took him into the workshop. “No worries, buddy; I’ll be here when you get out.” And so my life as a caregiver began.

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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!