Outstroken Post #80 Punxatawney Phil says six more weeks of winter… I Say “Adios Amigos”

For 12 years, I‘ve coined February as my personal “Stroke Appreciation Month”. And we all know my shenanigans of celebrating and reflecting on the cause and the journey. This month yet again, I shall attempt to push the limits and inspire all of you who have been a part of my recovery.

After my second go-around this past September (an ischemic clot and a completely separate incident from the hemmoragenic bleed as a result of my surgery years ago) the doctors and professionals agreed unanimously that at my age and degree of life and health, I am a bit of an anomaly. I feel that I’ve embraced the challenges in recovery and never let personal goals fade due to disabilities handed to me. And at some point between hospitals, therapy, and recovery, I began to embrace the challenge especially years later when I started to notice that my story inspired those around me…Especially Stroke and Traumatic Brain Injury survivors, healthcare professionals, and the caregivers whose lives were also impacted by disability and challenges of loved ones. I’m neither a therapist nor doctor, but I’ve lived it! And for myself to give anyone in my shoes a bit of hope and sound direction is of the best feelings I can think of. It drives me to be better physically and mentally and to push on to live a full and enjoyable life.

I had a wonderful run with the same logistics company for 16 years, which brought with it experience, a degree of success, and some of the best memories of my life. Certain opportunities have a shelf life and I decided in December to follow suit and sell my business back to our corporate office in order to focus on my “Passion Project” which has been in the works for almost a full year to this point. With outstroken.com (now over 1,000 followers strong), I feel this is the right time to follow my head and my heart on this path.

I will be relocating to Dallas, Texas in a couple short weeks to start an organization focusing on Stroke and Traumatic Brain Injury consultation on a national scale with the goal of building a foundation. A huge hospital base, logistical travel sense, professional connections in the area, and of course, my partner in adventure who has put countless hours of time and knowledge into building this business model out, makes the transition a no-brainer as I see it. I had a goal a few years back to relocate to a major metropolitan area to start this new venture. So this is it and time is now!

Thank you all for your continued support and I will keep you updated on the progress of everything in the Lone Star State!

Lessons Learned…Think FAST!

So a very considerable lesson has been learned out of this weeks events that I would like to share with you all if ever confronted with these effects. As a survivor and advocate of stroke you’d think I’d know if I was having an episode…Well, in fact, I did not! In fact 2 symptoms were noticed, ignored, and precautionary measures were not acted upon for nearly 48 hours…

Always think of FAST:
F…Face-Ask them to smile. Does the face look uneven?
A…Arms-Ask them to raise both arms. Does one arm drift down?
S…Speech-Does their speech sound strange?
T…Telephone-Brain cells die every second. Call 911 at any of these signs.

Now the timeline…
1. Thursday/Friday/Saturday/Sunday…PSU home football weekend, typical shenanigans, rowdy tailgate, cheer hard, a couple aggressive “WE ARE” chants, and in bed by midnight.
2. 8:30am Sunday…I wake up see my fellow PSU buddies off with no sign of compilation nor confusion.
3. 9:15am Sunday…Back to bed at for an hour
4. 10:30am Sunday…wake up to say good-bye to the final houseguest and I immediately realized that my sentences were slurred something awful. I thought nothing of it a concluded that it was due to vocal fatigue from events of a rowdy evening prior.
5. 12:30pm Sunday… Still feeling fatigued so I went back to sleep and wake up with no change in vocal deficiency.
6. 10:00pm Sunday…Commence to bed, thinking this all would pass by morning.
7. 5.30am Monday…woke up and got ready for work. I could still hear my effected voice and noticed slight “facial droop” when I smiled on left side.
8. 9:00am Monday…I made a phone call into one of my customers to realize immediately that I was truly struggling getting sentences out (mentally structuring words was fine but delivery was certainly noticeable that something was off).
9. 11:00am Monday…I start to get very concerned and start making phone calls to family
10. 1:00pm…Enter Mt Nittany ER where CT scan is performed and no sign of brain bleed is found
11. 11:30pm Monday…MRI performed to pin point root cause.
12. 5:00pm Tuesday…Neurologist confirms that acute ischemic stroke was detected having nothing to do with hemorrhagic stroke from eleven years ago. Complications due to a torn vessel in neck sending blood clot to brain.

Again, this outcome could have been far worse. Educate yourselves warning signs. Acknowledge when something is off with your body, and don’t wait to seek medical treatment!