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Jimmy O'C.


I had a what?

In 2007, I was the owner of a small restaurant—which translates too little money and no insurance. On this particular night, I was working on the line to help get orders out. I was scooping up fries to bag when I noticed my hand wasn't acting right. I blew it off as imagination and continued topping hot dogs. Soon I realized I couldn't hold the tongs to get the dogs from their warmer. I stopped and sat down a bit to get my mind right.

My wife wanted to take me to the hospital, but I thought I just needed to rest. I had my son take me home as my wife closed up the restaurant. She told me to lie down and take it easy until she got home.

The feeling kept getting worse instead of better and as soon as my wife got home she said "That's it—we're going to the hospital." By that time I was too weak to argue.

At the hospital, the scan showed I had indeed had a stroke. My doctor called it a "mini-stroke" which everybody reminded me could have been much worse. I spent four days in the hospital and was released to the fact that I could not use my right hand and my leg would drag when I walked. When I asked about recovery from this, I was told "sometimes it comes back -- sometimes it doesn't".

Since the initial stroke, I have had five more mini-strokes that we know of. I say "that we know of" because I was not even aware that I was having them—my wife or friends noticed the droop of the face or the slur of speech. In one case, I refused to let my wife take me to the hospital but rather requested to see my doctor (which she agreed to only to calm me down). When the doctor entered the room she told my wife to take me to the hospital immediately. I told them I didn't need to go—just having a "little problem." The doctor said, "Hon, you sound like you've been on an all-day drunk."—which is strange because I don't drink.
I sat there and tried to convince both my wife and my doctor that I didn't need to go to the hospital—I wasn't having a stroke. But the fact that they were right was confirmed by another stay in the hospital.

As of this date, I have a hand I can barely use, a leg that drags when I walk, an overabundance of medications and a wife who constantly stares at me just to make sure I'm ok. I have had to close the restaurant and have filed for disability. I'm one of the lucky ones.


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