Jun 15
MrsBT8 , Posted on SUPPORT NETWORK Blog

Struck By (En)lightening: How Having A Stroke Changed My Life

On August 14, 2008, at age 32, my life changed forever: I had an aneurysm that caused a burst blood vessel resulting in a hemorrhagic stroke.  It blew while I was a passenger in a car, and my husband was driving (thankfully). I heard, what I call, a "whooshing bang", slumped to one side, my eyes crossed, and I vomited. I was a nurse manager of a mental health unit, so my nursing education gave me the knowledge that it was neurological. I knew the hospital where I worked specialized in cardiac events, but that our competing hospital specialized in neurology. Plus, I didn't know how comfortable I'd be with my colleagues providing my care, so I had my husband drive to the competing hospital (it was closer anyway). But if my hospital were closer, I would have gone there, and my comfort level wouldn't factor in at all!

Before my stroke, I worked approximately 60 hours/week: during the day as a manager, then inevitably we would be short-staffed for some evening or night shifts. I had to either stay or come back in to work as a staff nurse since if something were to happen because we were short-staffed, I would have to deal with the ramifications. As a result of working so much, I sacrificed my health: I ate poorly (whatever was quickest), drank a lot of soda for the caffeine, didn't sleep as much as I should have, and didn't have emotional well-being of spending time with my husband and children. My job consumed every aspect of my life. If I had known I had this "ticking time bomb", I'd have taken better care of myself!

The stroke was in my cerebellum, and wiped out everything: I suffer from ataxia (hand-shaking), dysarthria (raspy voice, garbled speech), and ambulatory difficultulties (have to use a walker, cane, or "counter surf", and have issues with balance). I call it one of my "trifectas"! The other being my bunions: Hereditary (my grandmother had them), on my feet a lot working in nursing, and having to "squinch" my feet to compensate for my balance issues. But I'd take bunions any day-used to be in a wheelchair, and got them from WALKING!
I also move quite slowly, and have problems with my coordination.

As a result, these afflictions contribute to be not being able to work anymore, so I have time to take better care of myself.  I exercise in ways I can to build up my core strength. Including, but not limited to; using the elliptical (since it doesn't require much balance and coordination) lifting weights, and riding a recumbent trike my husband got me for my balance difficulties.
I am able to eat healthier, because I can make heathy meals and eat slowly.
Since I don't have to be at a job out of the house, I can get sufficient sleep to help my brain heal.
I am also able to spend more time with my family, and just "be me", not be defined by my career. I guess you could say, this stroke helped me to escape!

My husband has been my main contributor to my recovery. He has done everything he can to assist in my lifestyle changes. He was told by one of the doctors to put me in a nursing home. He instead found a stroke rehab for me.
When I encounter a challenge or hardship secondary to my stroke, I just think how close I came to dying. I try to concentrate on the positive side of my stroke!
  • Stephanie 1964
    Stephanie 1964,
    I to had a hemorrhagic stroke on September 14 2015. I am disabled. I walk with a cane. The first week I was in the hospital a Dr came in and said she is going to need care 25/7 for the rest of her life. I was in a coma for a month and a half. I was in the hospital for 46 days. In and out of ICU. I had a collapsed lung, pneumonia and sepsis. My husband was there for 99 out of 100 days. Thank God for him. I would still be in rehab if it wasn't for him.
  • wh
    I had an aneurysm burst and suffered a stroke because of it and I was 59. I've been home about 4 months now and very happy to be at home. This all happened about a year ago. My boyfriend got me to the hospital right away and then died of a massive heart attack right after I went into a coma several days later. It's been hard but I am coping and just thankful I had the time I had with him. I had known him since I was 14 and miss him a lot. Be glad your husband did not put you in a home--I spent 4 months in one and it was awful! Sounds like you have come a long way and I wish you luck!
  • Urbanflower
    MrsBT8 that is an awesome recovery story. I'm glad that your making strides. I pray that you continue to get better
  • Urbanflower
    Stephanie 1964 Your husband is a jewel. That's what marriage is supposed to be about sickness and health. I'm glad he was there for you.
  • connectcare
    Please ALL of you whom have a supportive partner......stop reading NOW, and thank them again and again. I must be my own best advocate after my 51 days in ICU, very critical, and guarded condition. My young adult children want me to be strong. I want to be strong, too.
  • Bobcat
    I want to share my stories with your reader: The call for independence! I am author, The Power of I Believe, A book of motivation, encouragement and inspirational thoughts after a stroke, a Christian-themed book written to help stroke survivors and others touched by a disability regain their faith and strength as they recover and move forward with their lives. though I wrote this book with stroke survivors in mind, the feedback I have received through my blog and Facebook page has shown me that The Power of I Believe is a source of inspiration for anyone who needs it. Everyone experiences doubt at some point—whether in themselves or in God—and this is especially true after a sudden and traumatic event. I know from experience. In December 2006 I experienced a sudden stroke, which left me battling aphasia. As part of my recovery, I returned to the journals I had kept for many years to find the same inspiration that had motivated me throughout my life. Through these meditations, I came to understand The Power of I Believe. Many people who have a stroke simply do not find the motivation they need during recovery. And this is not an experience unique to stroke survivors; anyone struggling with a disability, or even a difficult time in their life, can find it hard to muster the strength they need. The Power of I Believe is written for these people. The Power of I Believe means making the choice to accomplish your goals—it means having the determination to keep striving and the faith to know that you will succeed. In this book I share the thoughts and the inspirations that gave me the determination and faith to keep working to overcome my aphasia and recover from my stroke. My reflections focus on the power of God, the power of faith, and the power of the mind. Through these inspirational words and thoughts and through my faith, I found the personal strength preserve. I am now back riding my bike, playing golf, swimming, and going to the fitness center. While most books for stroke survivors focus on specific exercises and tasks that will help a survivor to recover and regain functioning, The Power of I Believe is focused on instilling the strength and faith necessary during the recovery process. www.robertleefields.com/
  • purple heart
    purple heart,
    I am so happy for you and wish you the best! Stay strong when things are tough! It takes time to heal! I had a brain bleed after my cardiac arrest! My husband didn't help me when I came home from my 3 months hospital stay. His life went on without me. I am glad you have a good husband! Take care!
  • carolonowens
    sounds like you made some good & different life changes. I'm glad you came thru health changes. I too am a nurse, & it's different being on the 'other side'. It's good you have a very supportive & loving husband. Enjoy your 'new' life everyday. Carol
  • lauraerickson.14
    To all i just had 2 minor strokes 3 year ago i had open heart surgery im sure what i should do i want to get on disability for the sake of my almost 6 month old son am i thinking wrongly should i try to go back to work im so scared that if it happens again it might not be minor looking for guidance
  • Bevrly
    I am glad you are doing so well after your stroke. Don't give up whatever you do. My husband had a hemmorhagic stroke and was paralyzed on his left side. He was in a very good rehab hospital for 6 weeks and was able to walk out with the use of a cane. He got so he could drive our 37 foot motorhome with a Bronco 11 behind it. He was almost as healthy as before his stroke and then he got alzheimers and after several years has passed away. The stroke was much easier than the alzheimers. Just don't give up. Praying for you. Beverly
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