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Jodi C.
Jodi C.
Survivor

Tracey E.
Tracey E.
Survivor

Kyle R.
Kyle R.
Survivor

Babe & Jean
Babe & Jean
Caregiver & Family

Emily D.
Emily D.
Survivor

James S.


Survivor

Re-Invented Through Two Strokes

This is the story of James Larken Smith of Sugar Land Texas. In 2004, he survived not one, but two strokes. This is his story through the strokes, surgery, and recovery.

My name is James Larken Smith, and I live in Sugar Land Texas. In January 2004, I was in my laboratory sitting at my desk working on some data spreadsheets for a project I was working on. All of a sudden, I noticed that my vision was going blurry. Then, I noticed the onset of a really bad headache. I walked down to one of my co-horts office, and explained to him what was going on. He noticed my speech was slurred, and I felt that my face was was a little numb. He immediatly got me in his car and took me to our medical office in the building next door. There I was examined by our company doctor. He quickly noticed the signs of a stroke, and took me in his personal vehicle to the ER. They had a top neurologyst meet me at the ER. After an exam, it was believed I was having a stroke. They administered some blood thinners, and some of the symptoms began to disapate. I was in ICU for 3 days, then a regular room for 3 more days. They never verified the cause of the stroke, though they believed it was caused by some plaque from an artery going into my brain.

On July 28th of the same year I was at church playing piano on a Wednesday night. The previous week had been spent in the hospital with more unexplained symptoms which were diagnosed as a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). I noticed ny neck was really sore. Then I sat down for our weekly bible study. My left arm then began to get limp. After a few minutes of this not going away, I called over the pastor in the middle of the study and explained that something was not right. He immediately began praying for me. Then I was helped to the car and transported to the same hospital I had been in before. By the time we got to the hospital, my left leg was also going limp. Within about 5 minutes I was in the ER, and the last thing I remember is trying to remove my shirt at the request of the nurse. I would not wake up for 5 days.

Upon wakening, I was not myself. I was having hallucinations due to anti-brain swelling medications. I also had no use of my left leg or left arm. After 6 more days in ICU, I was moved to a normal room. It was then decided to send me to TIRR Hospital. It is a world renown stroke rehabilitation facility here in Houston. I would spend the next two months in recovery, gaining strength and letting my body heal. I was fortunete that I had use of my speech, so once in TIRR I became gradually more of myself. When I left TIRR on September 30th, I still had no use of my left arm or leg.

For the next 3 months, I would be in TIRR's outpatient "Challenge" program. In November, I was fitted for an orthotic brace. Once completed, I was able to start walking some again. In spite of much theropy and medications, I never have regained use of my left arm.

Now it is 8 years later. I can't do everything I used to. I never regained use of my left arm. And my walking is slow and with a cane. My lifestyle is slower, and I do not work as I did before. But I have reinvented myself. I now own a radio station, called KFEE Digital Radio. And I have a morning radio show on it called "The Morning Coffee Mix." I had to re-invent myself. The strokes have made me stronger. I love my family, and appreciate life much more. If you are reading this and have had a stroke, never give up. There is a worthwhile life for you.

 

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Display of the Faces of Stroke stories does not imply National Stroke Association's endorsement of any product, treatment, service or entity. National Stroke Association strongly recommends that people ask a healthcare professional about diagnosis and treatment questions before using any product, treatment or service. The views expressed through the stories reflect those of the authors and do not reflect the opinion of National Stroke Association.

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