May 29, 2017

A Review of Stroke Books, and The 3 Things I Didn't Have When I Had My Stroke

I finished all three and very different books about strokes as promised: a brain stem stroke, an ischemic stroke, and a hemorrhagic stroke. Here are my reviews, with a few thoughts at the end on what I was missing when I had my stroke.

1. The Calm Before the Storm: A Stroke Survivor's Story by Delanie Stephenson

Delanie's major concern when she had a brain stem stroke at 33 in Virginia was, who would take care of her two young kids before unconsciousness set in with her words, Then everything went dark. Her sister had a stroke, too, a hemorrhagic one, so the strokes were probably hereditary rather than coincidence. She uses religious undertones all through the book in prayers to God, invoking Him for help with the loss of her ability to walk and speak. Delanie has humor in the book as well as she described her embarrassing moments in graphic detail. There was much support, including her mom, her sister-in-law, friends and, of course, Curtis, her husband. She was in rehab for months and the doctors called her "a miracle." She suffers with PBA (pseudobulbar affect when one cries and laughs at inappropriate times) and has been working with a neurologist as of 2013, and her strength and balance are returning. As the book ends, she offers these words: But with God's help, the love of my family and friends, and lots of hard work, this storm too shall pass. Yes, it will, Delainie.

I give this book *****. 

You can find Delanie's book at Amazon:

2. Stroke After Stroke: A Rower's Pilgrimage by Barbara Polan

Barbara thought she was too young to have an ischemic stroke at 52 (she was correct) when she in great physical shape and had a profession--managing editor of a newspaper--she loved. She expected tomorrow to be like today. She masterfully weaves rowing on a gig boat in Gloucester Harbor all through her book about the stroke. Her goal is to be able to row again. She suffered at the time the book was published in 2014 from anosognosia, as defined by a neurologist as "not understanding the extent or significance of one's deficits," i.e. she didn't know her limitations caused by the stroke. Barbara lost the use of the non-dominant side (left side), but she was fortunate in that respect (she is right-handed). Barbara focuses on exercise repetition, and she has tried, among other things, the Eastern practices of Kundalini Yoga, chanting Buddhist 'nam-myo-ho-renge-kyo' for15-minute daily sessions, acupuncture in the ear, psychotherapy, and aquatic therapy. She said she is happy and well-adjusted, although not complacent or accepting of my limitations.

I give this book *****.

3. Love Stroke: Stroke Recovery and One Young Couple's Journey by Kelly and Brad Marsh

The book is actually written by both Kelly and Brad, which I find a fascinating thing in and of itself from a young couple. Kelly, 36, was ill in Cincinnati after she returned from a trip to New Orleans. The both went to the hospital and she was put in the ICU, and when he wanted information about Kelly, a nurse told him, Nothing good happens fast in the ICU. Soon, a doctor confirmed ongoing bleeding in the brain which needed surgery. Her mother was there to help, but Brad, her life-saving point person, kept precise records of her medications, insurance (if filled out incorrectly, it would delay her rehab), doctors, and even the nurses and aides on duty. The book is a moving account of what people can do to help themselves, even after a hemorrhagic stroke, with helpful tips following the chapters. By working hard, she and Brad now have gone on vacations, something Kelly did not think possible early on. Some of the proceeds from the book are going toward the foundation the two of them started--A Stroke Forward, giving young and old stroke survivors, other traumatic brain injury survivors, and their caregivers the resources for their recovery.

I give this book *****.

Now, the 3 things I didn't have when I had my stroke:
1. I wasn't married (although my partner of 17 years considered us a married-ish couple) so I didn't have support that was even remotely close to what Delanie, Barbara, and Kelly had with Curtis, Tom, and Brad.

2. They had friends. Most of my friends left me once they saw what they thought would become of me. But I fooled them. I am now walking, albeit with an AFO (ankle-foot orthotic) and a cane, and I am no longer depressed, moody, and weeping. Sure, I get frustrated some times, but doesn't everybody to some extent?

3. They all had family members to help. My two sons lived far away and they visited me as often as their careers would allow. My parents are dead. That is why I'm moving to Portland soon to be near one of my sons as soon as this "medical condition" is cleared up. The foreboding doctor's call came on Friday and that "medical condition" is the subject of my next post. Stay tuned!


Ricky said...

Thanks, Joyce! Thoroughly enjoyed this run through of stroke books. Much love to you for achieving so much through your own damned bloody-mindedness. Awaiting your next post with bated breath...

Joyce Hoffman said...

Thank you, Ricky! And you have DBM as well! I just published my next post on a class action lawsuit. Cheerio!