Stroke? - So What?
Excerpt of the upcoming book titled "Stroke? - So What?" - Useful tips for stroke survivors
Life was great! I worked in a prestigious law firm, was very happy in my marriage, my son of my first one was finally with us, was running marathons and had recently advanced to No. 7 in my age group in squash in the US.
What shall I wear today? Yes, the blue suit," I thought before stepping into the bathtub to take my morning shower. Why am I so terribly dizzy? I better sit down.
Fortunately, I did, because all of a sudden, I lose control over my body. My arms and legs shake profoundly, hitting the tub. All systems fail. Help me! It hurts so much. My extremities hit the bathtub. Thank God, my wife is here. "Help me!" I want to shout, but out comes only an unintelligible noise.
My wife wears the panic on her face when she finds me. I cannot breathe. She tilts my head back. Finally, oxygen enters my lungs again! This is surreal - I can neither move my legs or arms nor speak a word. Is this the end of my life on this earth? Will I die now at age 43? No, this cannot be! I did not have the chance to tell my wife how much I love her!
For a short while, I can speak again. I am relieved and tell everyone how good it feels to express myself again, thinking the worst is over. How wrong was I? My son Julian calls 911, the ambulance arrives shortly thereafter. I am put on a stretcher and lose consciousness. Am I dreaming? This cannot be real. Where is my family? I only see a tunnel and move forward. There is a bright light at the end of it. It is very soothing. It makes me feel so good. Let's go through the tunnel towards the light. Hold on. You stay where you are. Do not drift away further. I want to go back to my family and friends. Years after the stroke, I realize how close to my demise I was. The soothing light was my almost impending death. Would I have gone towards that light, given in, this book would have never been written, merely my name and date of birth on my headstone. Thanks to my stubbornness, some call it arrogance, I am still here to tell my story and hopefully inspire others to imitate me. Jokingly, I say today that dying would have been an inconvenience. I thought at that time: "Whatever happens to me, my wife will surely bring me back. She will fix things. I have a strong trust in my wife!"
To my fellow stroke survivors, I have this advice:
Always stay positive. Work on your recovery as mentioned before day by day! You can recover from a stroke! There is so much help and new gadgets* out there. The stroke made one mistake: It did not kill us. Now, we come back. For more information, useful tips and more of my story, please refer to my book entitled "Stroke? - So What?" as well, hopefully coming out in 2012.
In the meantime, think of that.
In 1983, Rom Houben survived a near-fatal car crash and was diagnosed as being in a vegetative state. Nobody talked to him. 23 years later (!), with the help of modern brain imaging techniques and equipment, doctors were able to properly diagnose his condition as locked-in syndrome. Now he apparently communicates by typing into a keyboard with his right hand, though he does so via a facilitator who moves or helps him move his hand. Houben's case calls into question the current methods of diagnosing vegetative state and arguments against withholding care from such patients.
This case illustrates how incredibly fortunate I was. I belonged to the very auspicious less than 10% of "locked-in" patients who first, did not die and second, are well on the road to recovery. My life has been given back to me and I am making the most out of it. So, we "just" had a stroke! Let's go! If you want to contact me, my email is StrokeSoWhat@gmail.com.
*Just to name a few stroke aides. For hand rehabilitation, I highly recommend www.saebo.com. If your leg/foot is affected, i.e. you suffer from "drop foot", www.bioness.com has helped me tremendously. But also walkaide.com is a great, maybe an even better alternative. If you are in need of a walker, I absolutely need to name the "neXus III" from Dana Douglas. This company makes the best walker on the market. It is steady, comfortable with a seat and basket, collapsible, easy to maneuver, but above all its customer service is second to none. If all companies would be like that! Its website is www.danadouglas.com.