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Showing posts from February, 2009

Another interesting side effect...maybe.

Let me start by saying that I cannot say for sure that this is related to my stroke. Let me also say that this is not necessarily a bad thing. The truth is, I don't know that I have ever had a "hungry" feeling since my stroke. I eat mostly because I know when I am supposed to. When I do eat, I feel satisfied, but I don't have the "rumbling stomach" that one usually relates to being hungry. For instance, I am sitting here at 7:30 a.m., I have not had any breakfast, but I am not "hungry". I am, in the sense that I know I am supposed to eat. But I don't have any feeling that alerts me to the fact that I have not eaten. Now, like I said, this is not necessarily a bad thing. I find myself eating less because I never "feel" hungry. At the same time, I have missed breakfast 2 or 3 times only because I never "feel" hungry. Since my stroke, I have lost about 35 pounds. I now weigh (by the way, I did not think I had 35 pounds to lose

I did a little remiscing today...

Just a little bit ago I finished looking at pictures of my when I was in the hospital. Some of the pictures I admittedly cannot remember vividly. I remember that it was taken, but I cannot remember the whole situation. It brought back a lot of memories. Some of them I would rather forget, like being in the hospital. Others I remember fondly, like my parents and brothers, David and Dennis, visiting me. More than anything else, it makes me aware of where I am and where God has brought me. I know that I have said it many times, but the truth is that I nearly died, I have had many doctors tell me that I cannot do the things I am doing, and no doctor so far can figure out what happened to get me in my situation. I realize how much my wife, children and the rest of my family had to go through. I also know that my church family had to go through a lot.  For right now, I am just rejoicing to be alive and enjoying my daughter's 11th birthday. Soon, my other daughter will celebrate her 8th

Well, I went to my kids' first parent-teacher conferences today...

This was my first opportunity to see first hand how my stroke has effected my kids where most people see them...at school. My youngest sometimes cries a little. Admittedly the teacher does not know if it is due to me or the situation on the playgroud (very close together, I know). My middle child has picked up an affinity for smiley faces. This is not unusual because she says that some people are naturally good at football, others at soccer, others at softball...she is just good at being happy. Overall both kids at West elementary are very well adjusted and know that they can talk to their teachers if they need to. My oldest, who is a Junior in High School, is doing, by all accounts, great. His schoolword is suffering a bit (B+ instead of all A's). Each teacher said that he is doing very well and SEEMS to be handling things very well. Scholastically, all three children are excelling in school, and I think that school gives them a sort of distraction that they normally would not hav

I am in an emotonal whirlwind.

I am still having some problems with my emotions. I tend to laugh  alot shen I laugh, cry alot when I cry and I get really angry when I get angry. Every Dr. tells me it is a side effect of my stroke, but I have to learn to get control of it. For instance, when I laugh at work or with my wife, I laugh until I can hardly breathe. When I cry, I cry over simple things like movies that never used to make me cry (like Elf and the Princess Bride). When I deal with the kids, I catch myself getting short (it usually takes me by surprise...I think I am controlling things and my family will tell me to calm dow when I think I am). It is just something I will  have to get used to, and try to recognize the signs of its oncoming and overcome it. On a side note, I go to the Dr. on Tuesday to see a stroke specialist. There is a part of me that wants the Dr. to find nothing out of the ordinary and that she is as baffled as me. On the other hand there is a part of me that wants the Dr. to find something

Okay, so i've had a little time to think about things...

I know that my previous post was pretty depressing. I admit that, it was how I was feeling at the time, but it was depressing. I guess I was letting what the Dr. said today get me down. I know from a head knowledge standpoint that no one knows what happened to me. I get that. I guess that hearing the Dr. being so frank today did not do me well. Maybe it was good for me to hear a Dr. be frank with me. But, I said all this for this reason: I let it get me down. There will come times when I get down, and I know that and am ready for it, but I should understand that it is coming and not be surprised when those moments come. The truth is that my life will, probably, never be the same again. I realize that and have come to grips with that. Every detail of my new life is viewed in the realm of that one event. The truth is that, no matter what I say, I will always be a stroke survivor. I don't have to live like one, but I am one. What I don't want and will not give in to is the tempta

I didn't get any good news today...well, sorta.

I went to the VA for a follow up today. After they took my blood, I just did normal things around the house. But, when I went back the Dr. said that he did not buy the fact that I just had borderline high blood pressure, was on over-the-counter medicine, went for a massage and had a stroke. Basically he said what people have been saying for a long time: people my age just don't have strokes.  What he said is that people have those conditions every day, but they don't have strokes. So, now I just have to wait to find out what the stroke specialist says. He is concerned that they don't know what caused my stroke yet.  I am going through a time that I am unfamiliar with. I cannot do certain things that I used to be able to do, and I don't like it. The truth is that I need help doing almost everything. As much as I appreciate people who are willing to do things for me, I hate the fact that I cannot do them. I struggle with everything, and what I don't struggle with, I

I know it has been a long time since I posted...

I have been in the hospital for the last week. It all started when I went to the ER Monday and they did a scan to see if I had a blood clot. Once it was determined that I did not have a clot, they gave me a muscle relaxant, told me that I just had a pulled muscle, and sent me home. The next morning I was taking my daily medicine, when I passed out. I guess I was out for about 2 or 3 minutes. My wife said that she thought I was dead because my eyes were open, but I was not responsive. She immediately called 911 and they brought me to Knoxville hospital. Initially the ER thought I passed out because my heart rate dropped, but then they determined after many tests that I passed out from the pain in my leg. After many tests and a cardiologist that wanted to put in a pacemaker, they said that I was bleeding in my leg, which caused my heart rate to drop, resulting in my passing out. I spent 5 days in the hospital, not knowing if I would need surgery or not. The problem was that I was on co

I had a different experience at the VA today...

If you have been following my blog for awhile, you know that I have been talkin a lot (you don't have to agree with me so quickly) about what God has brought me through. Normally I spend the time on my blog talking about what an awesome God we serve and how shocked all the Drs seem to be when I walk into their office. God really is good, but today I had a different experience. Today as I left the VA, I did  not focus on what God brought me through; I focused on the fact that I almost died in the hospital. You know, it does something when you know how close you were to death. I may not have survived the surgery. When you hear someone say that, it means a little; but when the Dr. who performed the surgery prepares your wife for the reality that you may not survive the surgery, it means even more. Today, I thought about the place my wife came every day for nearly a month; I thought about me lying there, not able to talk, with a ventilator breathing for me. Today, it finally dawned on

I had a great day today...

Let me start by saying that most people way that they would never know I had a stroke if I did not tell them. I know that; I understand that. I only tell them in case I make a mistake then maybe they will be more likely to overlook it. Anyway, today I was at the hospital to visit someone from the church and in came the Dr. We struck up a conversation, and then my stroke came up (because I was given the choice of doing rehab in that institution). the Dr. asked which person (me or my wife) had the stroke. Now, this was not a normal person...this was a neurologist, someone who deals with stroke patients every day. Now, on the surface someone may say that this is a small deal. But, if you are the one who had a stroke and a Dr. who deals with strokes does not know that you are the one who had a stroke, that is a big deal. After that, we went to Sam's Club. I could have had a field day in there. It seems like everything I saw was something the kids would really like. Sometime I want to

I am still recovering, but almost totally recovered...

The other day (I guess about a week ago) my wife asked me what percent I think I'm at. I said that I would guess that I am about 90% of what I was on December 8th. This is highly irregular. Dr Kabhani said that I should get about 80% back in the first month, and then the other 20% in the rest of the year. Unfortunately, most people don't get back to anywhere near 100%. I would not venture a guess about what percent they do get back, but Dr. Kabhani said that he usually has to give families bad news. But aside from my writing, typing and stumbling (every now and then) I am back to normal. I just told someone the other day that I have to reach up and touch the spot of surgery to remind myself and I had anything happen. I know that people get sick to death of me saying this, but I really feel good. As a side note, I forgot to mention some people in my last post. My children were great in my hospitalization. The bit I remember was really good. My wife says that they were very good

I have spent most of my time here talking about me...

I want to spend this post talking about everyone else. It never dawned on me how much everyone else had to rearrange their schedules to take care of me. There was the person (names will not be released to protect the innocent...not really, but I forget so easily) that took care of my girls for the time I was in the hospital. Even when I was out, my girls were picked up every day religiously. Then, there were the people that brought meals so that my family (which has been known to devour a little food) could be fed. There were the countless people that gave of their time so that my wife could be with me. There was the person that took me to my appointments at the local VA before I got my license, then there was another person that took me to my appointments at the local VA. All of these people gave so that I could recover. They allowed their lives to be rearranged (although they would think it a small task) to make sure I was cared for. Then, there was my parents and my brothers. They
Today I found out something very important...I can still ride a bike!!! We went down to the North Overlook of Lake Red Rock and walked the trails. We had a picnic and I had a good day withe the family. We took our bikes out and rode around. We watched people fishing and just had a good day. As a side note, according to the State of Iowa, I am permanently disabled! I get a permanent fishing license effective the day of my stroke. From now on, I will never have to buy a fishing license again. Now, I am not saying that I am permanently disabled, but the state of Iowa does and so they gave me my license. Slowly I am getting back to normal...I made a visit to a recent visitor to the church and made a trip to Wal-Mart. I know that people are sick of me saying it, but I have to reach up every now and then to remind myself that anything significant happened to me. At night I am reminded all the time because I tend to slur my words when I am tired. But, I plan to go to church tomorrow and d

There are little things that some people take for granted...

Today I had a nice relaxing lunch with my wife. This may seem like a normal day out to most people, but it meant something bigger to me: it meant that I was still here to take her to lunch; it meant that I was able to sit with her; it meant that I did not have to communicate with a board, and it meant that for the most part I was not on a special diet because of my stroke. I just had a wonderful time with her. I cannot express how much it means to be able to spend quality time with her. Each time my kids throw themselves on me, it means a lot to me. My youngest, who has a hard time putting everything together, sometimes says that I cannot do things because I was sick. She is right...I have limitations; life as I once knew it is over. But what I gave up is nothing compared to what I still have with my wife and children. I have been more than just blessed to watch my kids grow up or just have a relaxing time with my wife out for a simple lunch. While I am on the subject, this is about a

I am glad that I am alive...

I have been mulling over in my mind my visit with the neurologist on Tuesday. What she said is not just amazing, it is also alarming. When she showed me the scans, along with my wife and a student in neurology, she said something that is not only amazing, but it could also be alarming to the hearer. When I had my eyes closed (because she had to do some motion tests with my eyes closed) I heard the student say that, if she was reading the scans right, I should not be able to do anything on my own. What the Dr. said was that this man (me) no longer has a cerebellum so he can't sit up, he can't walk, he can't do anything that requires any balance without one. Now, she knows, my wife knows, the student knows that whether I can or can't, I am. THAT is amazing...it can also be alarming. To know that I do not have a cerebellum anymore...to know that I tried to keep myself in good health...to know that I tried to lower my cholesterol...to know that I tried to lower every bad

Okay, I'm over my pity party now...

I guess it was the fact that today marks the 2-month anniversary of my surgery. Everyone, except my wife, is acting like nothing has really changed. I know, I know, I should be grateful that I am not in a state that everyone is reminded of my stroke. From a purely knowing, logical standpoint I know that. It is just the fact that, as of right now, life as I knew it on December 8th has ceased to exist and that affects no one except me and my wife. She has to get up everyday (that I am on it) AT 6:00 to give me shots of Lovenox. She has to fill my pill minder every day. I cannot do the things that I used to be able to do. Life, as I knew it, is changed. I know it has only been 2 months, but at the same time it is a miracle of God that I am walking around, it has only been 2 months for me to get used to my new life. That is not much time. Anyway, probably I won't write much else (I hope) about my struggles adapting. I just wanted to vent a little.

Today, I'm having a little bit of a pity party

Now, fundamentally I understand that I should not be able to do able to do what I am doing. I get that part, and for that I am grateful. But until you have had a stroke, you really are not able to sympathize with me. It has given me a new appreciation for people that chastise me when I say that I know what they are going through. I cannot explain everything, but I have problems controlling my emotions. Saying that I shouldn't have the problem does not take away the fact that I do. I have some problems with my speech. Really, it does not matter what area I should struggle with, the fact is I do. Yesterday, I went on facebook and saw a page for classmates of mine that are no longer with us (I will celebrate, if you want to call it that, my 20th graduation anniversary this summer). The truth is, I almost made that list. I nearly died. Until it has happened to you, it is really an insult to say that you know what I am going through. The truth is, no one knows what it is like to wa

Well, today I saw my VA neurologist.

To sum up a long conversation with Dr. Benjamin, she could not believe that I could sit up, walk, touch her finger or really anything because it requires some coordination. Since I no longer have a cerebellum (or very little of one) that SHOULD be IMPOSSIBLE. Not just difficult, but not possible. I guess I could sum it up by saying that I had a great visit with her. There was a surgical resident in the room with us. She knew nothing about me, but she also said that I should not be able to do anything. (Not that Dr. Benjamin did not know what she was talking about, but the resident did not have any reason to think anything out of the ordinary about me.) Dr. Benjamin also let the resident (and me) see the CT scans from before my surgery. She showed me where the cerebellum was infarcting (stroking). Basically, I would have to agree with her assessment that I no longer have an operating cerebellum left. She also showed me where the CT scan showed my brain swelling, putting pressure on my

Today I go to see the last doctor to see me before my stroke...

Today I have a 10:30 appointment to see Dr. Benjamin. She was the last Dr (neurologist) to see me before my surgery. I am really excited (apprehensive) about seeing her. For those of you that are regular readers, you know who Dr. Bejamin is. For those of you unfamiliar with me, Dr. Benjamin is the Dr. that asked me to stand, touch her finger, etc. The she said that she should not even be having this conversation with me. I should be in a hospital or in a wheel chair drooling for the rest of my life. Now, 2 months tomorrow from my surgery, will be the first time she has seen me since December 22. Needless to say, I will report back what she says to me and what her impression is of me. As a side note, Dr. Benjamin's receptionist said that I have had a real impact on the people in Des Moines. She said that people are still talking about me, my story and my recovery. Sometimes, if I was honest with  myself, I cannot really grasp the fact that less than 2 months ago, I had a stroke and

Yesterday was the first day doing everything for me...

Yesterday was a big day. Not as big as last Sunday, for sure, but it was a big day nonetheless. For the first time since my stroke, I was able to teach my Sunday school class, preach the Sunday morning message, visit the hospital, and do a small group at Westridge nursing home. I had one person tell me (after I told them I had a stroke) that if I hadn't told them, they would not have guessed that anything was different about me. I have to say that it was the first time that I felt "normal" for a whole day. I was able (I think) to convey all the messages I wanted; I was able to preach and think on my feet a little; I was able at the nursing home to take some of the people's thoughts and tell what I wanted them to know. For the first time (I know I have said it before) I really had to reach back and feel the scar from my surgery to know that something had happened. Now, I am still having issues with my typing, but that is to be expected. The Dr. said that since I had