Archive | August 2013

Brain Chatter During and After a Stroke

I want to talk about brain chatter, to maybe make people aware of what might be going through someone’s mind during and after a stroke. Witnessing a person having a stroke can be scary. Every stroke is different, so you never know what will happen. I will tell you my story of my brain chatter, but it may or may not apply to others. However, it’s knowledge that can’t hurt to know.
Most of you know the story, and for newcomers, please read the first story of my blog for details. Basically, I was at The Fairmont Hotel for a luncheon for my dear sweet friend’s 90th birthday. I was the only 48 year old attending with all much-older women, and I was the one carried off on a stretcher! Haha! Funny now, and it was kinda funny then, too!
When the stroke started, my face drooped on one side. I was thinking that something was wrong, but was also fascinated by how much one side of my face could sag. I could feel it!! I never saw it. When I got up to go to the restroom, I wasn’t walking right. In my head I was thinking ~ uh oh, this isn’t good. When my hand couldn’t make my phone work, I thought ~ this is a stroke, and I need help so I can get to a hospital for one of those shots to reverse strokes. If I was really thinking right, I would have put the phone in my left hand, and could have dialed it. I saw David, who is the son-in-law of my friend the birthday girl. I called him over, and when I started talking I didn’t recognize my voice and slurred speech. Fortunately, he had been with his dad during his stroke, and recognized the same speech and slurring with me. While I was sitting and waiting for the ambulance, I actually thought ~ how funny that I’m the youngest one at the party, and I’m leaving in an ambulance! I also thought ~ wow, I’m so calm! I thought that a LOT! I had a history of having my blood pressure go up when it was being taken at the Dr office, and I was thinking ~ huh, I don’t think my BP is going to go up this time, because I’m so calm! Well, my BP was already at least 285/185! I didn’t know it, and didn’t feel it.
David was keeping my husband and parents abreast of my condition, by phone. He was also very calm. The waitress sitting with me, who was a nursing student (and I thought ~ what are the odds of that happening) was also calm.
When I got in the ambulance, I asked where my purse was. Haha! My purse has everything in it! I could win the old Let’s Make A Deal show when he’d ask the ladies at the end, for odd things in their purse! David had it, and was sitting in the front seat. I was thinking how nice he is to stay with me. Speech was worse at this point, so I was choosing to not talk. I wasn’t thinking too much, either. My brain was quiet, without much chatter going on.
In the ER, there was so much commotion going on with nurses and DR’s doing their jobs. I was thinking ~ hurry up and give me that shot! Well, then they told me that I don’t get the shot. It was a hemorrhagic stroke, and my brain was bleeding. They prepared me for possible surgery. In my head I was thinking ~ no, I don’t need surgery because it stopped bleeding. Why did I think that, I don’t know. When I told that to the nurse, she acted like I was crazy, and said that I couldn’t know that. I still kept thinking it, and guess what, I was right!
I still didn’t think too much. I mostly thought about things in reaction to what was going on.
When I realized that I was paralyzed on my right side, it felt like I was moving my right side, but I wasn’t! I thought ~ this is what people feel when they lose a limb!
In the days following, my memory was a little weird. I couldn’t always remember words. Bryan was a great mind-reader, and he would fill in the blanks. I remember thinking things, but couldn’t say them. In my head, I was fine. Then to put things together, was a challenge. But I knew that words weren’t coming out right, because in my head I was thinking clear! I learned to slow down my talking and I could be understood better.
The brain chatter was there, but not constant. My new world was pretty quiet. I think that’s why I needed it quiet in my room. I needed people to be calm. No visitors, especially no high energy people. I was so aware of people’s energy! It could be instant overload! And it showed in my blood pressure!
I mostly had patient nurses. They were so happy with my progress, and were mostly very helpful. I never really stopped talking, and I think that helped me. My stroke was in the left basal ganglia which mostly controls speech and coordination.
I’ve read other stroke stories where people can’t talk at all, and they are treated like they are dumb, or babies. I’m here to say, the brain still thinks! The problem is getting the thought from the brain to the mouth! That’s where it goes haywire! Sometimes, the information isn’t in the accessible brain area, so relearning things is the only option. I’ve experienced that, too. Thank goodness for the ability to rewire your own brain!
It’s important to treat stroke survivors with calm, patient energy. No need to talk in a condescending tone or manner. Chances are, they’re still thinking normally, but can’t make the words happen. Have patience! The brain still knows things! In a lot of ways, it knows and feels even more that ever! Never underestimate the stroke survivor!