Marsha & Collier
Stroke Prevention: Marsha
and Collier’s Lifestyle Change After Their Stroke
friends of my family had strokes in the last four years. It was a very close
call with our New York City friend who was in his 80s at the time. He landed in
the ER, his daughter by his side crying softly. The second friend, a retired
nurse who lived on Long Island, knew the signs and quickly had her daughter
rush her to the hospital where doctors verified she had a TIA and was at risk for a greater one
unless she underwent an operation.
who had more severe damage, was in the hospital on medications in a typical
recovery period for his age. Stabilized and recuperating well, Collier
graduated to rehabilitative care until he was able to go home. There, he
continued to receive physical and occupational therapy to and was
completely restored to health and activity. During this period he was forced to
rely on an accessible van for transportation.
Marsha was operated on and the pressured relieved. In her 60s, her recuperation
was easier and she required less physical therapy since there was less damage.
Her daughter credits this to her nursing education and recognizing the signs of
what was happening to her, painful headaches and then blacking out.
Today, if you were to look at Collier at 90, you would never
dream he had had a stroke four years ago. He is fit, he is tanned, his attitude
is cheerful and he remains active with his daughter, son-in-law and his
grandchildren, going to their home in Connecticut during the summer and
enjoying the opera and other cultural events in New York City during the year.
Though Collier lost his wife two years ago, they were married for over 50
years, Collier’s network of family and friends sustained him through the rough
time and continue to keep him vibrant.
you would never think that Marsha, now 70, had an operation, and that if she
didn’t recognize the stroke signs or ignored them, she might have been severely
injured by the TIA. Today she is as active as ever helping her daughter who had
a back operation, and encouraging her grandson to get through college, though
he has Asperger’s syndrome. The daughter and grandson live with Marsha and
actually, Marsha is more active than her daughter, whose back operation, which
left her with residual pain wasn’t as successful as they had hoped. In fact,
nothing seems to keep her down. She now enjoys writing for The
Mobility Resource in her free time.
Marsha and Collier’s stories are happy ones. They were able to
recover, but they worked at recovery and after contemplation, decided they had
to change their lifestyles so they would be able to enjoy the years they
possibly had left.
Collier realized he must work at recovery to restore himself to
what was before. He also realized what might have exacerbated the stroke.
He had been traveling for his business to the point where it stressed him out.
Traveling, he led irregular sleeping patterns and unhealthful eating
patterns. As he recuperated, he decided to eliminate future business
travel and decrease his business activity. He allowed a regular regimen to take
over, insuring he received enough rest, little stress and an improved diet.
He cut down on his salt and sugar intake, increased eating fruits and
vegetables and limited his drinking to only a glass of red wine sometimes with
meals if he was at a dinner party or at a restaurant. He cut down on red meat,
breads, luncheon meats (high in salt) and predominately ate free range chicken,
wild salmon and other oily fish. Generally, he ate more fish than he had
Marsha had smoked all her life and though she had tried various
ways to stop, including hypnotherapy, electronic cigarettes, the nicotine
patch, and pills, nothing worked and she continued her addiction. After the TIA
wake up call, she stopped cold turkey. Though every now and then she has a
cigarette, it takes her months to go through an entire pack. She is too
frightened of a reoccurrence and she knows if she goes back to her old smoking
habit of three packs a day, she may not recognize the signs the next time
because she will be felled by a stroke in one swoop. Along with stopping
smoking, she has lost weight. She had gained more weight than she realized
until she was weighed at the hospital. She had a big sweet tooth and ate
dessert after dinner every night. Gradually, she jettisoned the sweets by
having one less dessert a week, then two, etc. Now she is down to one
dessert a week which is a reward for her weight loss. She continued to change
her diet by decreasing her intake of the whites: bread, potatoes, rice,
pasta, flour products like pastries. She also used half as much salt on her food
and she stopped drinking diet sodas completely, drinking water, nonfat milk and
tea. Losing weight and stopping smoking encouraged her to be more active. She
walks three times a week with friends in the neighborhood and at a regular
pace. She finds she is able to keep up without panting and is thrilled at her
Collier and Marsha believe they could have prevented their
strokes if they had taken the right precaution, but no one could tell them
this. They had to have their backs to the wall before they could change
themselves. They were fortunate that they received a second chance to change.
Nevertheless, when someone asks Collier what happened after his daughter
mentions he had a stroke, they always look amazed. He cheerfully tells his
story. Marsha knows the futility of telling friends they shouldn’t smoke. She
has stopped preaching to them and both have family and friends who are not
eating healthily and have lifestyle habits that are destructive. Whether
they change is up to them. Collier and Marsha know the positive effect of
giving a sweet nudge and letting the topic float away. Both have realized the
power of actions and behavior. They have received a second chance and their
gratefulness and lifestyle change speaks volumes.