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Stroke Awareness
updated: Dec 08, 2012, 12:00 PM

By David Powdrell

November 30th, 2012

Eight years ago today, I suffered a stroke. The right side of my body morphed into dead weight in a matter of minutes. I lay in a crumpled ball on the floor, unable to move a finger or toe on that side of my body. When the EMT asked me what 2 plus 2 equaled, I didn't know the answer. As a CPA, that was an interesting place to find myself.

The stroke caught me completely by surprise. I was fairly fit, I'd been surfing the day before. I played squash 2 days a week. I ran. I was 49 years old.

Today, on my anniversary date, I'm nearly 100% recovered but I want to remind you of the warning signs of having a stroke and to take precautions to prevent a stroke from happening to you or a loved one. The road to recovery is long, it's incredibly hard work and it's brutally expensive. To the extent possible, stay healthy.

There's a great little acronym to help identify the signs of a stroke: The acronym is FAST.

F = If one side of the FACE is droopy or the smile is uneven, that's a sign of a possible stroke.
A = Raise both ARMS. If one arm hangs lower, that's a sign of a possible stroke.
S = If the SPEECH is slurred, this could be a sign of a stroke in progress.
T = TIME! Time is critical for optimum recovery. Call 911 immediately.

Controllable factors include watching your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, keeping an eye on your weight, quit smoking and keep alcohol levels in check.

The National Stroke Association is a wealth of great information. If you want to learn more about the controllable and uncontrollable risk factors, warning signs and recovery tips, check out www.stroke.org

Wishing you all good health.

# # # #

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 351732P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-08 12:14 PM

Thank you, it's so important for people to remember the tips to prevent strokes, and the warning signs of one. Women especially tend to discount symptoms, just like with heart attacks. A friend's mother's only noticed one symptom: the sound of water in her ears. Her daughter noticed subtle signs of the more common symptoms.
Just out of curiosity, and not meaning to pry, but isn't there a drug called TPA that is given by IV if the stroke is detected soon enough, and then clot dissolves (thus the apt nickname clotbuster? Was wondering how it ended up you had surgery. Assuming the wrap on your head was not an offbeat fashion statement.


 COMMENT 351740 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-08 01:05 PM

Thank you for sharing your personal story, we never think of someone as young as you would be a candidate for a stroke. So glad you had a full recovery and are living a healthy life and sharing your experience with others to help them recognize the symptoms and also encouraging them in recovery.

Were you given TPA and can EMTs administer it or is it something you only get after you arrive at the hospital. I understand that time is of the essence when it come to TPA administration.

Stories like yours make us realize how precious life is and how important it is to do all we can do to stay healthy and informed.


 COMMENT 351743 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-08 01:27 PM

One of my clients was a client of yours & I knew you before the stroke. I have been so delighted to read your posts on Edhat and todays post is really a great public service. Continued good health to you!!


 COMMENT 351756P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-08 02:48 PM

The 'clot-buster' drug is not always given. There is a significant risk of unintended side effects of this drug, like uncontrolled bleeding. The neurologist weighs the severity of the symptoms, along with the radiological study to determine the location and type of stroke. In other words, the doctor will make a recommendation based upon more than the presentation of stroke symptoms. My husband suffered a 'mini stroke' where the clot resolved on its own. His neurologist, Dr. Delio (who is terrific, btw) recommended against the TPA. My husband was able to recover fully from the event with no deficit. We are lucky! Cottage ER is wonderful. Thank you medical professionals!


 COMMENT 351779 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-08 05:36 PM

As one of the nurses who was by your side in the ICU, the greatest satisfaction we have, is to see you healthy and happy. It has taken a lot of hard work on your part - you should be proud!


 AUNTIE S. agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-08 05:54 PM

Thank you for this important post. I've been following your progress through Edhat sincde I learnee of it. My stroke was last February-affected my left side- and the last 10 months have been steady progress back to normalcy (rxcept for my weird typing to Edhat). I asked everyone in the ER if I had been given TPA (since a clot caused mine) and the answer was -"um, don't think anyone gave you any." Weird.


 COMMENT 351794 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-08 06:43 PM

Another extremely promising therapy in the recovery from strokes has been hyperbaric oxygen therapy. There are a few clinics in SB County and Ventura County providing this for patients. After my father's stroke left him unable to do any normal functioning (eating, personal hygiene, etc), he had approx. 20-30 sessions at Dr. Whittaker's clinic in Orange County and at the end of his time there, he was walking normally, and doing all of the things he could before the stroke, within just a couple of weeks. He could even do his things on the computer again! This was a miracle, but apparantly it is getting more common, so I encourage you to check it out, even if your doctor is negative about it, they are not convinced, but I sure am, glad to have gotten my dad back!


 COMMENT 351799 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-08 06:58 PM

My Mother had a stroke in 1994, it was due to a ruptured brain aneurysm. She was actually off blood pressure meds at the time, when she should have been on them. I was 16 at the time, and found her in a coma. Not sure she had the clotbuster meds, or what the treatment plan was. She did have to have surgery obviously once they determined it was a brain aneurysm. She has two sisters that also had brain aneurysm, one of them has had surgery, and she developed new ones years later. My family was a part of a study for UCSF to see if brain aneurysms were hereditary. My step father had a stroke, and was found much in the same position as the original poster. The clot busters were what saved him from any lingering effects of his stroke. I'm glad to see that you have recovered, and the warning signs are brought to the forefront. Timing is everything.


 COMMENT 351804 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-08 07:18 PM

This is all such helpful information, and seems especially timely since several acquaintances of mine have had strokes recently. One question: I'm in Goleta and wonder, is Cottage Hospital ER preferable to Goleta Valley?


 COMMENT 351808 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-08 07:39 PM

Get well soon. Observation: A lot of 'fit' people get strokes. havent seen a whale-o hit the floor in years.


 COMMENT 351812P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-08 07:45 PM

Finally a face to put with the name. My mother sufffered a stroke on Thanksgiving and managed to hide it from all of us. Once we figured it out we took her for care. She lost vision one eye and was very wobbling for the rest of ber life, which I spent taking care of her. The Dr 's said that she was having tias but she refused to acknowledge them. It is hard to see loved ones, and for that matter any one suffer like that. Good to be reminded of the symptoms, especially in women because we tent to write things off.


 COMMENT 351829 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-08 09:30 PM

What a radiant smile!
I'm happy to have a face to go with the name.
May you be with us for many, many more anniversaries.


 COMMENT 351831P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-08 09:56 PM

So Glad to hear your story.I learned so much!


 MACPUZL agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-08 11:53 PM

Thanks for your stories, photos, and information. You're definitely an Edhat community asset.

We all should appreciate each day, and do something fun or rewarding that we've been putting off, because you never know what's next on the script.


 POWDRELL agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 05:38 AM

OP: Lots to say...so little space; I'll be brief. My stroke was due to a genetic AVM (arteriovenous malformation). A blood vessel burst in my brain. Brain surgery removed the AVM, hence the very stylish turban.

My heroes are the doctors, nurses, therapists and staff at Cottage Hospital and Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital. Every one of them went way beyond the call of duty for me. I'm an incredibly lucky boy.

My wife, Valerie, was my strength and my inspiration and I will always be indebted to her for her love and attention.

The best lesson I learned from my experience is to enjoy life; every day is a magical gift. Look around and you'll see the magic. It's as simple as a raindrop on a leaf, a bumblebee with a pocketful of pollen or a pelican surfing along an ocean swell.

Oh...and be nice to one another. Do something completely anonymous and kind to a stranger; you'll be surprised at the outcome.


 ELSPETH agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 06:35 AM

Having been a former client of yours, I was so pleased to see your brilliant contributions onEdHat. Can't believe it's been 8 years, but it sounds like you've been doing all the right things. Congratulations to you, on your anniversary, and thanks for the advice you've given us.


 COMMENT 351855 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 07:16 AM

What a great way to start the day - thank you so much!


 COMMENT 351858 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 07:27 AM

Thanks for the story and for looking so good in your hospital attire. But -- you were doing everything right, eating well, exercising, no excesses. Which means, even if I behave perfectly in every way, it could still happen to me. So, since it can happen to any of us, maybe for no good reason, it's good to know to get help and not be stoic and ignore symptoms. Which is probably what I would have done.


 COMMENT 351873 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 08:08 AM

You're my hero Davey Boy! The bottom line to your recovery was your Incredible POSITIVE attitude! Look at the picture, he just had a stroke and he's smiling like he hit the lottery! You're an inspiration to all that know you, and some that don't!


 COMMENT 351880 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 08:33 AM


I have always enjoyed your comments and contributions to this forum but with the generous sharing of your experience with such a frightening, life-threatening event you have given all of us a gift, so appropriate for the season. Many of us, some (ahem) quite a bit older than you, are wary and afraid of this silent killer, your frank and informative account lets us confront it with a little bit more knowledge and hope. Thank you.


 COMMENT 351904 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 09:30 AM

I think it's pretty well accepted that taking 1 or 2 low dose aspirins a day will help reduce the chance and severity of a stroke. They are dirt cheap (esp at Costco).


 ARCHIE agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 10:42 AM

Thank you very much for telling us, cautioning us. And thank you edhatters. Wonderful comments.


 MCMAC agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 11:29 AM

My stroke in '09 was due to an undiagnosed PFO in my heart (since repaired). Caused complete blockage of the main artery to the right side of my brain. I was 57, had jogged and walked regularly for decades, lifted weights, backpacked, had been a delivery person, carried heavy work-related stuff, slightly overweight but pretty darn fit for a middle-aged woman. Thanks to my husband and Cottage Hospital, I'm back to myself again. It makes me happy whenever someone is brave enough to share their stroke story as a reminder to all, even the healthy, fit, younger folks among us, to be aware of the signs of stroke. Don't assume health and youth protect you (though they help with recovery) as speed is of the essence for successful recovery!


 COMMENT 351971 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 01:15 PM

The author does not reveal whether, prior to the stroke, if he smoked, drank excessively, had high blood pressure, and had high cholesterol, perhaps ate a crappy common American diet, etc - he says he ran and had played rac quetball prior, but did not reveal anything about his lifestyle. Wish he would have expanded more. So lots of information is missing for the average reader- he makes it sound like a stroke can hit anybody, which is not the case if one is taking care of themselves.


 AUNTIE S. agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 05:53 PM

1804 - I love Goleta Valley ER - one reason being that I live close. But it's not crowded, as downtown Cottage'a is, and it seems more personal and friendly. The nurses there are top-notch.


 COMMENT 352072P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 11:16 PM

904: Aspirin helps prevent only 1 of the 2 types of CVA - blood clot, or thromboembolism. It's not good for bleeds from a ruptured aneurysm (hereditary), because it increases bleeding and has no preventative action against a bleed or AV malformation. 971: Same as above - a hereditary tendency towards weakness in areas in arterial walls that causes an aneurysm is dependent on the lifestyle choices you mention about as much as hair color. A spike in blood pressure can cause an aneurysm to rupture. Running and playing racquetball are two pretty significant items of information about lifestyle.


 CEES agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-10 12:27 AM

As one of David's clients, I've known him before and after the stroke, and he is an inspiration to us all in how to stay positive no matter what life throws at you.

Congratulations on another year of good health!

To the above poster, from what i know David's stroke was caused by a genetic condition. Even with his healthy lifestyle he was hit by the stroke.


 POWDRELL agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-10 06:49 AM

Poster 351971: My intent by posting was not to instill fear, but rather to share the warning signs should you or a loved one ever have a stroke. There are both controllable and uncontrollable factors to a healthy life.

I had a full physical exam 2 weeks prior to my stroke and got a clean bill of health. I've never smoked, am 165 lbs, 5' 10", sip an occasional beer and we eat lots of fish and salad.

As a volunteer peer counselor at Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital for stroke survivors, I can attest that strokes happen to people of all ages (even infants) and in all different states of health.

To the extent possible, we should all lead healthy lifestyles but if you see a warning sign, pay attention to it.


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