The Faces of Stroke

When you hear about a person whose had a stroke what is the picture that comes to you?

Many times when someone asks me about my stroke, I get these reactions: “You are too young to have had stroke!” or “you look good for someone whose had a stroke.”

If you had asked me a couple of  years ago what I think a stroke “victim” would look like, I would have said “old, wheelchair bound and frail.”

I had never pictured myself a stroke survivor. Other than high blood pressure, which I thought I had under control, I did not think I was at risk for a stroke. I lived a healthy, active life.  I am learning now that stroke does not discriminate.

These are the faces of stroke: Men and women of all ages, from all walks of life. All of them fighting, surviving, thriving.  


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I would like to thank the men and women who shared their pictures so I can hopefully change public perception about stroke survivors.



Runner, Runner

Misunderstandings are the heart of many sitcoms. Anyone remember Three’s Company? Yeah it’s funny until it happens to you. Then you just have to laugh about it.  The first  night  in rehab, I had to use the bathroom and a  nurse came in to help me. As she helped me get out of bed, an alarm went off. Two nurses rushed in the room and asked if everything was alright. My thinking was still really fuzzy then so all the hassle just went over my head. The next day, as I was wheeled into the physical therapy room, one of the therapists was unbuckling me from the wheelchair. He made a comment on how I was double belted.

“what did you do?” he asked. I did not know what he was talking about. That evening,  I asked the doctor why my bed was alarmed. It had gone off a couple of times during the day.  I was curious. She told me that I have to stop trying to get up and get off the bed on my own. She threatened to place a safety enclosure over my bed to keep me in.  At this time, I still could not move the left side of my body.

This was the 'cage ' that was going to be placed over my bed if I tried to run away.
This was the ‘cage ‘ that was going to be placed over my bed if I tried to run away.

I could hardly feel my leg where did she think I was going to go? The next day, the pt once again said something while buckling me to the wheelchair. He also said that there is an alarm on my wheelchair. I wanted an answer. I needed to know the reason behind the tight security?

The answer made me laugh and to be honest a little proud of myself.  Someone the hospital had made a note on my chart that I  was a “runner“. The staff at rehab took that to mean that I have been trying to escape! I was flattered that someone would think I am capable of running away! I was also confused, where did they think I was going to go?

It took a couple of days before the staff lifted my security order. They had to wait for a team meeting, the doctors and therapists had to make a decision to ease my restrictions. It took two more days before I was given my “freedom”.


Stroke Awareness Month

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Why is this important? Stroke is the number 5 cause of death in  and it is the leading cause of disability in the United States (source: American Stroke Association). I have been told many, many times that I am too young to have had a stroke. I asked my neurologist about this and she told me, “anyone with a brain can have a stroke.”

However, stroke and the long term damages of stroke can be preventable. If you suspect that someone is having a stroke, just remember the acronym F.A.S.T:


In stroke time lost is brain lost. These however important are also just guidelines. not everyone will experience symptoms the same way.  Another important symptom is a thunderclap headache.  This was what I had experienced. I’ve had migraines for most of my life, but this headache was much worse than that. It felt like I had someone was using a jackhammer behind my eyes.

There are many ways to prevent stroke weight management and smoking cessation are on top of the list. The American Heart Association provides a comprehensive list of risk factors related to stroke.

If you think that you or someone you love is experiencing a stroke, Make sure to let the paramedics know. This way they can get to the nearest stroke comprehensive hospital in your area. They can also inform the hospital that they have a stroke patient arriving and be prepared with the medication and equipment  needed to help the patient.