My experience with a Stroke

Bleak, dark posts are not my style and I hope this one doesn’t come across that way. I want to share so others may better understand what a person goes through during a stroke. Every stroke is different, no two are alike, but looking back I remember that night and how my mind was trying to tell me something was wrong.

It’s 2004 and we are downsizing due to some financial difficulties. I had been working all day packing my office area up. I also had neglected to take my blood pressure medicine so I would have more energy. That, was a stupid move I know.

Around 9:30pm I gave up for the night due to a small nagging headache and feeling tired. At 11pm I awoke and had trouble swallowing. My thought was weird, I was saying to myself, “I’ve forgotten how to swallow.” I had to try very hard to swallow. I felt no alarm at not being able to swallow as I should have felt, instead I woke Michelle and told her just that I didn’t feel good. Around 1am the dog awakened me wanting to do her nightly bathroom run. This is where I noticed the first symptoms, yet my mind was not yet allowing me to process it as a problem, if that makes any sense.

I started to roll to the right to get out of bed and it just felt “difficult”. Not painful, It was as if my brain knew at that moment that the left leg was not operating right, and I needed to leave the bed in another manner. Michelle woke up as I was getting up. I remember exiting the bed backwards, scooting down the length towards the foot where there was no foot-board.

The next thing was as I stood up and started towards the bedroom door, I thought, “That’s funny, my left leg is asleep, I continued calmly going towards the bedroom door dragging my left foot. Something in my mind was saying that’s not right, but something else was still pushing me forward to try to continue on normally. The leg was supporting weight, but the knee seemed to be non-functional. Again, it didn’t alarm me and it should have. It was almost as if part of my mind was registering that the leg was not performing as it should, yet another part convinced me everything is just fine. I let the dog out, 30-40 seconds later she comes back in. I’m looking out the door holding the glass storm-door open.

As the dog comes in, I close the door on my head! I remember thinking, alright stupid, how do you forget to pull your head in before closing the door. Reaching the bedroom Michelle is watching me and asks what is wrong with my leg, that I was now actually dragging along as if it were a normal thing to do. She was asking me why I backed out of the bed just now. I sat on the edge of the bed feeling unsteady.  My left arm felt “not there”. I looked at it and started to raise my hand to look and see why it felt strange and that is when I realized It was in slow motion. The arm would hardly raise. I told Michelle I was having trouble and needed a hospital. Something in my head was calmly saying stroke. She called the daughter who rushed to our home and we went to the emergency room.

I remember the intake nurse asking me to raise my hands up in front of me, and I noticed that the left arm/hand was about a foot lower than the right. “How Strange”, was my thought at that moment as I was applying the same amount of effort.

Those were the strange feelings and symptoms I exhibited that night. It was later determined that I had suffered a moderate stroke in the area of the “Pons” on the right side of the brain stem. This affected for me my speech, and on the left side of my body it affected the mouth, face, arm, leg. I had no use at all of the left side. After I received the stroke medicine, I was able to swallow a little better. I spent 8 days in the hospital and I used a wheel-chair for a month when I got home, as I could not walk.

It was just strange, I felt “there” but I didn’t feel “there”.

I hope this helps anyone that has never had a stroke. Don’t panic, but try to notice any really absolutely abnormal behavior, and mention it to someone. I was also fortunate that I am right-handed.

Comments welcome,

31 thoughts on “My experience with a Stroke

    1. Thanks for the comment, I hope it does. Time is of the essence during a stroke, I would have had a better recovery had they administered the special drug sooner.

        1. Yes, I did tripleclicka, thanks for asking. They wanted to send me to a rehab hospital. I refused, I knew I could probably do it much better on my own. Something as simple as picking up a cell phone was impossible, but I kept trying every few minutes. After about 2 months I had retrained my brain and could pick it up. After 4 months I was playing my guitar again. I’m now back to 98% appearance wise (no limp, dexterity) . I do get just a little weak on the left side if I exhaust myself. But yes, the doctors could not figure out how I had done it so quickly. I just grinned and told them it was my Alien DNA. 🙂

          1. Wow, I am impressed. Even playing the guitar at all, never mind so soon! Kudos for you! I like the Alien DNA reasoning. I’m so glad to hear you have done so well. It is inspiring.

  1. Thanks for this, Ron.

    My dad died of a stroke. He actually had a fall a couple of days before and dislocated his shoulder. When my mom and brother brought him home from hospital, they had to carry him from the car – he was too distressed to do it on his own. Later, they had to set up a bed in the living-room because he couldn’t climb the stairs. Of course, after autopsy, it was revealed that he had had a series of smaller strokes until the massive one that killed him. The fall that caused his shoulder injury was not a misstep – it was a stroke.

    I wonder if somewhere in my dad’s mind he was thinking “stroke” but elsewhere, his instincts over-rode that message so as not to induce panic. Of course, we will never know.

    1. Sorry to hear of you loss Maggie. He was probably thinking of all of you, trying not to cause distress. Thanks for the comment and dropping in. I appreciate you.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this, Ron. It serves as a warning for sure. So glad you rallied and got better! How scary! I sometimes wonder what I’d do if something like this happened to me, since I live alone! I must consult my children about it, soon. Mother’s Day is coming! Maybe a good time? Well, there IS no good time, but… I will anyway!

        1. That is something to consider. While I would have been able to activate one, as mine came on slowly, someone suffering a quick stroke may not be able to push the button. However if it is just a partial stroke as mine was, then it could be a viable option. I would not have been able to dial a phone with my slurred speech and one hand and about to pass out. There are just too many variables to determine if you would be able to use it or not. 🙂

          1. Ok, I think the bottom line is that it’s way better than nothing. Also it’s good for other crises that might come on more slowly , such as some heart attacks. I’ll definitely bring this up with my kids. Thanks for the idea, Ron!

          2. Or you could be a crazy old woman like my friend’s mother who didn’t wear it when it clashed with her outfit. Yep, she had a really bad fall on a day that she didn’t have it on and had to wait hours until someone came by.
            My husband had a TIA and what I noticed most what how he minimalized it afterward. I called the ambulance right away. They kept him overnight as there wasn’t any loss of function or abnormalities except his blood pressure was high. All the tests came back ok. When I went with him to the doctor to address his bp, his version was that it took seconds to a minute. My version was that it took a half hour until his face was normal again and he could walk or talk. There was a distortion of reality. Like you said it must feel like you are ok but not exactly.

            1. Wow, I can’t imagine what that must have been like laying there and waiting. I’m glad your husband recovered well from the RIA. It was if there were two of me Kate, in the same body/head. Each could see the other. Knew it was wrong, but thought it was normal at the same time. 🙂

  3. I’m sorry this happened to you but you’ve provided good information to others. My mother had a series of strokes before she finally passed away. The first one had us all puzzled (including her). Although we got her to the hospital, we would have done it much sooner had we known what was happening. I can picture the same thoughts that you were having going through her head too. It’s hard to admit/recognize when it’s happening to you. I’m glad you came through the it ok.

    By the way, if you haven’t watched it, there is a wonderful TED Talk given by a scientist who had a stroke. Her (I can’t remember her name, but it’s a highly viewed one) description of her experience is truly amazing.

  4. Ron
    Thanks for sharing ! Its always helpful to hear from one who has gone through the experience than read up on the net or a textbook.
    I have often felt the feeling of lying in bed, trying to wake my inner self up- I am awake but I feel there is a part of me that is asleep or wants to cooperate with the awake self but unable to do so- usually comes just after an afternoon nap.
    A few minutes later, everything settles.
    My husband has hypertension too and he lives in morbid fear of a stroke. Even fear of a stroke is not good for health, I feel.
    Thanks for sharing !

    1. Hi Susie, your probably just slow to wake, I have had naps like that. Tell the husband to try and not stress about it, naturally that is the wrong thing to do. Reduce the stress levels and laugh every chance you get. It is the best medicine. Thanks for the wonderful comment and I hope your Monday is a good one.

  5. You describe the experience of a stroke perfectly, Ron. I saw so many when I was an EMT, and that sense of unreality is always apparent in the sufferer. Good to know that you made a recovery, and I am sure that many will be interested in your personal story.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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