H-Tiques | 5 Insights from a 36-year-young Stroke Survivor
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Family Pic With Stroke Awareness Ribbons

5 Insights from a 36-year-young Stroke Survivor

Ok, so first off I should say to those who know me personally: take a deep breath.
Yes, you read that right.  I had a stroke.

We now know that it happened March 20, 2016 on the way to a friend’s house with my husband.

No, you didn’t miss a status update on Facebook.

Don’t worry.  I’m ok.  No lingering physical effects.
But no, we don’t know WHY yet.
(I am still seeing doctors to determine WHY and prevent another one.)


With that cleared up, I will soon post more about my recent stroke and everything that has happened since then.

Today, however, I want to provide FIVE new insights I wish I had known 3 short months ago, pre-stroke.


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So, here are 5 things I now think everyone needs to know about strokes…

 

1. Guess what?  May was Stroke Awareness Month.

 

I never even knew there WAS a stroke awareness month!  Seems one more person spreading the news might be helpful, huh?
Want to know more? You should!
Take a look at some of the past and future events for Stroke Awareness Month in your area.


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2. Sometimes stroke symptoms are NOT obvious.

 

I think many of us have seen the following picture, or something similar, warning of stroke symptoms:Stroke FAST SignsH
However, it turns out that’s not all of the tried and true signs to look for.
Please, PLEASE, take a look at a few more.  I implore you. My ONLY symptom was severe vertigo (which I have never had before).

I felt ridiculous going to the ER simply because the world was spinning so rapidly I couldn’t get out of the car
(NO, I was not driving at the time.  Thank goodness).


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3. Ever heard of a Cerebellar Stroke?
No?  Me neither.

It can be VERY different from a ‘typical’ stroke.

Let me just say this up front.  Some strokes even the ER doctors often won’t catch…like a cerebellar stroke.
I know that can be scary to hear, but you need to hear it.
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My stroke was diagnosed as a viral inner ear infection that subsequently caused vertigo.
I was sent home with vertigo-relieving exercises to do and directions to take FAR too much ibuprofen for anyone’s gut to be happy with. Red Herrings and my younger age seemed to have thrown the doc off course.
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So please, educate yourself; the symptoms for a cerebellar stroke are often not the ‘obvious’ stroke symptoms.
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Cerebellum Meme


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4. Listen to the little voice we all have and
Make sure you have a thoughtful doctor you trust.

Trust Grover Doctor
Yeah, I know.  Sometimes it’s hard to hear that little voice (call it God, call it the Universe, call it intuition…) but practice being calm enough to hear it. Both my hubby and I heard a ‘little voice’ tell us I should get an MRI when I had the severe vertigo, but both of us thought the ER doc seemed to be knowledgeable and have a logical conclusion so we didn’t bring it up.
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HOWEVER, thank GOD the ER doc instructed I follow up with my primary physician a week later.  Again, thank GOD I have a primary I love and trust.
He is VERY busy (as in booked 3-6 months ahead) but he is a very thoughtful doctor who will always find time to take a patient when he has to.
What did he want to do?  Get an MRI.  Hear that?  Get an MRI.  (Thank GOD he did.)
There are reasons I trust this man…it’s not blind trust…he’s earned it (see my 8/9/16 post).  I’m WAAAY too experienced with doctors to blindly trust any of them.
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Get one for yourself.  Now.  Ask around, try them out, question them, test them, talk to them, feel comfortable with them, but find one for when the improbable becomes reality.


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5. An ‘abnormality’ on a brain scan really CAN be nothing.
OR it can be something.
AND the MRI report can be wrong.
Get multiple opinions!

 

So you got an MRI and it came back with an “abnormality.” Don’t panic.  It truly can be nothing.
In fact, my doctor expected it to be nothing.
OR, it can be something.
BUT, it doesn’t have to be a terrible, horrible something.
Just make sure you get multiple opinions before you take action.

Normal vs Abnormal Brain Tissue

NOT my brain. Just an example MRI.

I had an MRI with an “abnormal mass” (interpretation: tumor) in my left cerebellum and then an MRI with contrast as a follow-up with the same “abnormal mass.”  Random ‘brain mole,’ cancer, brain leech, blood-sucking amoeba from Mars, I dreamed up all the possible things that mass could be….I thought.

My trusty doc sent me to a neurosurgeon that he himself had seen and trusted.  (Again, find a doctor you trust…he/she will have docs they trust…etc.)
The neurosurgeon looks at my scans, comes in the room, and says he’s almost positive it’s not a mass, but a STROKE.
A WHAT?!?!
Now THAT I hadn’t thought of.  (I didn’t even know that you could see strokes on an MRI.)

Wow.  Talk about surreal.  AND I didn’t know at the time that it was far BETTER for it to be a stroke than a brain tumor. That would have been GREAT information for my anxiety level.

Who knew being diagnosed with a stroke was actually a GOOD thing??


So there you go.  Five insights I wish I had known a few months ago.  

There is SO much more I have learned in this process as my family and I go through the slow and anxious process of testing, theorizing, testing, medicating, etc.  If you have any questions PLEASE contact me and comment below.  What I would have given to talk to someone else who had gone through this.

I know this website is for my business, but as a solopreneur, creative, mother, and human the two are rather interwoven.  Therefore, expect blog posts to be a compilation of business, personal, and everything in-between.  I personally love getting to know the people behind the businesses I frequent so that’s part of the community I will be building here as well.

PLEASE COMMENT BELOW:
Tell me if you already knew these insights, if you have any other insights for me, and/or if you have a question about anything I’ve mentioned.
I would LOVE to hear from you! 



***UPDATE***

We now know WHY the stroke occurred.
Well, two possible reasons.  Both of which are very manageable but come with their own issues for me to work through.

3 Comments
  • Colleen Brown
    Posted at 23:02h, 15 August

    I am glad you are working through this. And appreciate you taking time to teach others. I respect your insight and therefore almost always read articles you post. Still, it is different to teach others by sharing your own personal story. Thank you. Thinking of you.

  • Peggy Placier
    Posted at 23:05h, 14 August

    I did not know about this type of stroke, and am very, very relieved that you had a primary care physician with the knowledge to check further. Who expects this to happen at your age? No one. But it did, and we can all look out for the symptoms in our friends and family thanks to you. You don’t say, but I also hope that there are no long term down sides. Take care.

    • htiques@gmail.com
      Posted at 01:37h, 15 August

      Thank you, Peggy. I do hope that this helps someone. That’s the goal. 🙂

      Yeah, the age thing actually worked in my favor with doctors. Because I was so ‘young’ for a stroke, they really paid attention and tested for everything. I was SO lucky in the string of doctors I worked with and it all started with my Primary care physician who referred me to a neurosurgeon who referred me to a neurologist, who referred me to a cardiologist, who referred me to a hematologist, etc. The referrals (personal phone calls!) pretty much solidified I was seeing a great doc AND I got to see them in truly record time.

      As for the long term down sides, there’s good news and bad news. Good news is that I, personally, don’t have any. The bad news is that from what I’ve read, the possibility for side effects from a cerebellar stroke are just as likely as they are for any other stroke. With a cerebellar stroke I believe the symptoms are related more to balance, eyesight, etc. For instance, my vertigo could have been long term or at the very least taken a while to clear up, but I was VERY lucky and it cleared up within days.

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