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Category Archives: stroke support

Signs of Stroke

March 23, 2018 Stroke, stroke support, TBI Comments Off on Signs of Stroke
Signs of Stroke

Stroke.Org and several other major medical organizations have developed the symptom recognition tool for tool called FAST.  But recently, a new general symptom for recognizing that a stroke is imminent has been added.

First, what is Fast?

Well Now, it seems that the T is Fast should be replaced to stand for the TONGUE.

For example, If you, or a suspected person, falls for no good reason, or excuses it as a "new shoe" or "bum knee" ask them to humor you and stick out their tongue. If the tongue is crooked to one side rather than straight, THIS MAY INDICATE A STROKE. 

Another example.  If you or a suspected person is complaining of numbness on one side of their body, you may also want to apply the tongue check, or the entire fast routine.



So I have developed the FastER code.

F:  Is their Face drooping on one side?

A:  can stand for either “Arms”, can they evenly raise both arms.  “A” also stands for “Ask”.  Ask the person that they should know the answer to.

S:  Can stand for either “S”. is one side of the smile drooped? Or “S” can stand for “speech difficulty”, are they mumbling or not making sense?

T:  Now stands for Tongue. Stick it out. Is it crooked or straight?

ER: I added this to stand for: get the person to the ER.  You have an emergency on your hands.


Click here to print this information.


Grieving & Healing

February 23, 2018 Stroke, stroke support, TBI Comments Off on Grieving & Healing

Stages of Grief

Grieving usually occurs after any loss, and aides in the process in getting through a loss.  Any person who has been through a tragic loss will honestly tell you that the goal is never to “get over it and move on”, but to “get through it as you restart your life in order to move on”.

Healing, which is the hopeful result of grieving is not through “getting over it”, forgetting, or forgiving, but rather healing is by rebuilding your life and identity that allows you to get through the loss.

Most people go through a process which is a natural and normal part of accepting what has happened. There are several stages to this process:

  1. Denial:  “No, this couldn’t have happened to me …”

  2. Anger and Frustration: This may be expressive or internalized.  If it is expressive, it can painful to family and friends who are also grieving with the survivor. Outbursts of angry frustration toward equipment, helpers, exercise and any form of safety restraint are normal. If internalized, the long range effects on the survivor can be far worse, leading to a deep seated depression that lasts far longer and is much more dangerous than grieving

  3. Depression and Withdrawal: Survivors lose the motivation to care for themselves, physically and emotionally.  They may feel isolated from friends; who were very supportive initially, but become less involved as the process of restoration drags on. They begin to feel that others see them as a patient rather than a family member or friend.

  4. Acceptance: Over an indefinite period of time, the survivor starts to seek out and join support groups of individuals like themselves. They find new hobbies and methods of expressing their individuality and creativity

  5. Risk of Long Term internalized anger and depression: The survivor is at risk of self-harm and needs to seek help quickly before the risk becomes reality.

Getting Through it.

First, don’t believe anyone who will tell you that will outgrow or overcome the experience of brain injury or severe stroke.  It is life altering.

Second, divide your losses into 3 categories:

  1. Losses to my physical self that, except for miracles, no amount of physical therapy will recover

    1. Can you walk without assistive devices

    2. Is walking improving or getting worse

    3. Can you maintain balance

    4. Are you in a wheelchair

    5. Are you unable to move

      1. Your legs

      2. Your arms

  • Your hands

  1. Your Fingers

  2. Your mouth to make understandable speech

  1. Losses to my dignity and social life that, except for miracles, have no signs or recovery.

    1. Are you unable to work

    2. Are you unable to drive

    3. Do you require 24 hour assistive care

    4. Have you been moved to assistive care

    5. Are you unable to the household chores that were simple before?

    6. Are you unable to perform leadership in your house

    7. Are you not receiving respect

    8. Have your friends left

    9. Has your family turned away and become unhelpful?

  2. Losses to my mental acuity that except for miracles, have no signs or recovery.

    1. Can you calculate quickly, without strain or headache? 100 minus 7, minus 7, minus 7 again?

    2. Have you lost long term memory

    3. Do you have losses In short term memory

    4. Do people asking you to answer question quickly overwhelm you?

Believe it or not, this is just my “short list” for getting through”.

On the next Page, lets review the questions and how you can get through each negative response.

  1. Losses to my physical self that, except for miracles, no amount of physical therapy will recover

In my book, Looking out from the Inside, I explore what I call “Approximate Old Me” theraphy.  Modern After stroke and after brain injury therapy often focuses on getting you to immediately “dump” everything that makes up the essense of who you are, and

Embrace the NEW LIFE or NEW ME that you will now have to succumb to.  My problem was, and is, that this is a defeatist attitude that takes out the fighter in all of us, and shouts “oh! Just get over it and on with life”.

Sometimes, I wonder how different those wise therapist would be, if they themselves were the survivors.  My Approximate Old Me therapy, allows and encourages the survivor to list all the activities that they enjoyed doing and then, if you cannot do that activity any longer, with the help of family members, do something that is the closest possible activity do what you used to do.

I don’t know what your hobbies and interests were pre-stroke or pre-brain injury, but even if you cannot enjoy the actual activity you might be able to enjoy it vicariously through another person, or virtually through computer games, 3D software or roll-playing games

These activities help your brain adapt to the shock in a less shocking environment, they help you pass through the changes.

  1. Losses to my dignity and social life that, except for miracles, have no signs or recovery.

In my book, Looking out from the Inside, I explore the deep meaning of what it is to be a person, to have pride in what you do and accomplish, to feel good about yourself and how you take of others, and to fit in with groups because of shared interests.

I also discuss how often these sensations are shattered after brain injury and stroke.  You even question how you are now impeding the growth of loved ones, spouse, children, parents, who lives and careers are impacting by your condition.  In this section of the book, I tackle the biggest question of all, “why should I survive, if I am now just a burden on everyone, shouldn’t I just check out”.

The answers to this question, how to get through are wound out in our ability to call upon the undamaged part of our being, our heart, our soul, or moral center, that part of us that made us “tick”.  That made us care.   It is seldom, if ever damaged by stroke or brain damaged, and is the strongest part of us, I argue, after stroke and brain injury.  By calling us this internal deep rooted will, it can see us through the confusion of what all the surface level ideas and fears the brain is now processing.

  1. Losses to my mental acuity that except for miracles, have no signs or recovery.

In my book, Looking out from the Inside, I explore how to help your brain in the simplest ways possible.  Since I went through speech re-training, and memory re-training, I found that the advanced software programs were way over my head and impossible to use for my level.  But to get through to my next level, I found that Dr Suess books, and the Simon musical lights memory game were excellent in both categories.  When talking, I know that your brain is moving as fast as it ever was, but IT MIGHT BE DISCONNECTED from your mouth muscles.

Speak slowly, and enunciate EVERY WORD UNIQUELY.

Start Small

February 23, 2018 Stroke, stroke support, TBI Comments Off on Start Small

Rolls, Responsibilities and Life Changes due to Stroke and Brain Injury

Using our past skills and abilities in our new life. Is it possible? Or do we have to accept that everything is a start over?

This is a difficult part of the journey for many, and continues to be for me.

Who I was (as identified by what I did)

  • Senior Software Developer

  • Projects Manager

  • Data Analyst

  • Marriage Counselor

  • Kayaker

  • Hiker

  • Fitness nut

Where I am after my brain injury.

Damage to my left side brain seriously hampers logical thought and number processing. I no longer can write simple lines of software code, much less the extravagant brain activities that I was used to. Nor do I have the memory or function to track the multiple streams of a project.

Due to damage to verbal filters, I often find myself verbalizing thoughts in inappropriate manners. Counseling others is out of the picture for me.

Loss of Balance, dizziness and vertigo have robbed me of managing my fitness. Medications have caused weight gain discouraging my overall fitness desires.

Can anything I did still be used?

Actually yes.

I volunteer at BIACT (Brain injury alliance of CT). Since I possess experience and computer skills that are helpful to the staff, My understanding of the internet allowed me to introduce time new processes and procedures. I was able to use basic logic and practice and procedures.

I utilize my years of business experience to help with some admin activities as I volunteer at Sail Connecticut Access, an organization that provides sailing to individuals with brain injury.

Just due to brain fatigue, I can’t do much many hours, about 4-5 hours PER WEEK, but everything is fullfilling and rewarding.  I also have taken up writing, photography and painting.

My advice. Start.

Start small. Don’t make big promises or bite off more than you can chew. Remember, new activities are likely to be VERY tiring. Build up your stamina.

But do start