Alice Hinrichs - When the table turns…
Alice’s husband, Kurt, had a stroke. Later, she was diagnosed with having afib, which puts her at an increased risk for having a stroke. She writes in honor of World Stroke Day on October 29.
My husband had a stroke four years ago and they call me a hero for saving him. I don’t feel like a hero. In fact, I wonder “why him and not me?” As the doctors listed possible causes for Kurt’s stroke, I realized multiple risk factors applied to me, not him!
As his wife, I feel very blessed to have him still by my side and that he takes care of me and is so focused on his own health to continue to be here for me and the kids. I deal with my own guilt—I know I have risks factors for stroke and some I can’t change (genetics), but others I haven’t made time for improving my own health—lose some weight, start exercising, check out that snoring issue (sleep apnea)…yea, the thing that saved his life may very well be harmful to my own. As a woman, it’s much easier to focus on our family and loved ones and worry about their health while neglecting our own. I was more worried about watching him for signs of stress, anxiety, depression than taking care of myself…for him!
Four years we’ve spent looking/watching for signs of AFib in Kurt as that’s the “best guess” to the root of his stroke. Then, three months ago, I was having pain in my left arm and felt nauseous and called my doctor to figure out if this was just an illness, my arthritis, or heart attack waiting to happen. My doctor sent me to the ER. Yep, I am the one with AFib as well as an enlarged heart and pulmonary hypertension.
In four years of looking for AFib, we’ve learned a lot about it. Yet, we never thought to research what could cause AFib. As a woman, I am discovering it’s hard to distinguish between “normal as you get older issues” and some very real heart/health issues! I’m learning to listen to my body and note changes and communicate with the doctors to sort through the causes and severity of those issues!
My doctors are doing an amazing job of trying to figure out the complexities of my issues. So far, I feel like the tests are coming back with good news and we are making progress. Steps that I can take to help myself—low sodium and heart healthy diet are the first major issue to tackle. It’s not easy, but I’m at least making improvements and can tell a difference already, which helps me focus on continuing on that path! Next is to start exercising—even if it is “just” walking! Taking care of myself, and no guilt for doing so will allow me to be here longer for those I love!
My doctors continue to ask questions, run tests, and make suggestions. I will continue to work with them and strive to do what it takes to take care of my health. Finding support and encouragement from others and to be held accountable for my choices…maybe I become the encouragement someone else needs…
Want to help spread the word about resources available for life after stroke? Be sure to check out everything on offer for World Stroke Day.