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Anthony J.

Survivor and Endurer
Survivor and Endurer


Survivor and Endurer

I had my stroke in October of 2007. I called my wife to have her take me to the doctor as I was having extremely bad pains in my neck. A few minutes later my eldest son called her because I had become incoherent and was acting odd. She told him to call the ambulance at about the same time I told him to call the ambulance. My wife then headed back home.

My wife and her parents followed behind as we roared off sirens blazing. Once they realized what was going on, though, they slowed down and shut off the sirens. This launched my wife into frenzy as she thought I had died and there was no further need for the rush. She was later informed that the sirens and bumps were over stimulation and could have ensured my death. The paramedics clocked my blood pressure at 300/160 but they guesstimate it reached over 400 for it to do the damage it caused. I had no history of high blood pressure and have since been taken off medication for it. They have yet to determine what caused it.

I spent the next 6 months-ish in brain injury rehab (inpatient and outpatient) relearning / remembering how to do everything I'd learned from childhood to that point. (I was 35 at the time.) I have scattered memories from that time, which include other patients, nurses, doctors and therapists. But I have no recollection of any family or friends visiting me with exception of my wife (then fiancé) as she left my room arguing with me about having to go to the bathroom before I went to bed. She turned out to be right, I did have to go.

It's very hard for most to grasp the severity of the "event" (as it's known to insiders) unless you have some medical background. I have gotten used to the looks as if they are looking at a zombie from doctors and nurses when I tell them. One of my favorite stories to express how dire the situation was is the one about playing Santa for the BIRC unit where I did my rehab. I play Santa every Christmas for my family and have begun doing some volunteering. I contacted someone from the hospital to offer up my services and they accepted. When I was in the ICU area, the nurses escorting me around called me over to the nurses' station. They told me the nurse there was working ICU when I would have been there but couldn't place my name so asked me to pull down the beard. As soon as I did she turned white, teared up and said; "We didn't expect you to make it." I shot back with, "My wife isn't so sure I'm not still in a coma though." That gave her a chuckle so my work was done.


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