Stroke Affects you, too.
What are the 10 most common questions people ask?
My father recently had a stroke, and now he cries all the time. Is that normal?
Yes, crying after a stroke is normal. Your father had a major injury to his brain. When he cries, it doesn't mean that he is even sad or depressed. He likely has a pseudobulbar affect (PBA), meaning that he cannot control his emotions. In addition to crying, PBA can also affect people in other ways like excessive laughter, anger, or sadness.
My family insists that I have gotten lazy since my stroke. I can't find the energy to do anything but sleep. Is that normal?
Yes. I think of sleep as an important piece of healing. Your system had a shock when you experienced a stroke, and you need time to heal. Do you know that 90% of stroke survivors have deficits, and that kind of healing can take a lifetime? Only 10% get back to the way they were before the stroke. The good news is you can get better as long as you believe you can.
Is it normal to feel unsociable after a stroke?
Yes. Too much noise, too many people, or whatever makes you feel 'itchy' means that you are not ready to deal with getting together with other people. You just need to stand your ground and tell them that it is too soon. For me, I couldn't deal with more than 1-2 people for a couple of years. People need to understand that we repair our own pace.
Is it true that some people have memory loss?
Yes. Again, we are dealing with an injured brain and short-term memory loss could be expected. If you eat a healthy diet, exercise, play games, and repeat . . . repeat . . . repeat . . . your memory will likely improve. It takes time and a lot of effort to see significant improvements.
My spouse is out of it and seems unable to do much of anything. Is there help?
Yes. It is traumatic looking at a spouse and knowing that your life has changed so dramatically. The first thing I would say is that you have to take care of yourself. Strokes are a long-term disability so, if you are the caregiver, you have to be ready for the long haul. Your spouse might have to learn to walk, eat, speak . . . the list goes on. There are a number of places where you can get help, and I would start by asking at your hospital or rehab hospital. In fact, the hospital might have a stroke survivor's group. If you have been away from the hospital for a while, you can try groups like the Brain Injury Association of America.
Aphasia is a word I haven't heard before, and the speech therapist says my mother has it. Is it permanent?
No, it may not be permanent. Aphasia means that she may have trouble speaking, reading, writing, or perhaps understanding the words spoken to her. If the symptoms are not treated in the first three months, it is likely your mother will have aphasia for life. The good news is that she may get better with time.
It doesn't sound like good news. Is there anything I can do to make her aphasia better?
Yes, there are a couple of things you can try. You can find a doctor who does Micro Current Neurofeedback (or MCN). The brains of stroke victims “freeze” in a dysfunctional homeostasis (much like a computer freezes). This frozen state confuses or disarranges the individual’s brainwaves. IASIS MCN Micro Current Neurofeedback briefly stimulates the brain at a micro-level, creating a temporary fluctuation in brainwaves. This allows the brain to reset or reorganize itself, thus releasing itself from its frozen or stuck patterns. This is analogous to re-booting a frozen computer. Does it work for everybody? Experience shows that about 85% of people observe a noticeable positive response in one to three sessions. (My book, Stroke Forward, gives some guidance, here.)
I have also found that Lingraphica has very good sessions moderated by speech-language pathologists, music therapists, and aphasia experts. These virtual connections offer a wide range of topics for aphasia survivor and their caregivers.
Is it true that Low-level Laser Light therapy works?
Yes, laser therapy works wonders for people that have had strokes and have aphasia, but again it doesn't work for everyone. The brain has a cellular structure (mitochondria), which generates chemical energy through adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. If you have mitochondria that are dying, the laser treatment can cause them to regenerate. I believe that regeneration made my brain increased my neuroplasticity.
I am so depressed, I want to cry. Is there something I should do?
Yes. I would recommend that anyone with depression should get professional help. I would also like to leave you with this thought. I have found that negative emotions lead a person to exercise very little. That works against you because you have to work every day to regain mobility, speech, or whatever you have to regain. You need to look at the day you had your stroke as your rebirth because you are starting over from that point. Remember to be grateful for everything you gain, regardless of how big (or small) it is. Never. Give. Up.
That sounds like great advice, but some of the things you are recommending fly in the face of what my doctor says.
Yes. I am not surprised that some doctors wouldn't like these recommendations. Some of my own doctors didn't. For me, as long as the treatment wouldn't harm me, I decided to try a treatment. If it didn't work, fine. If it did work, I was better off. I discovered along the way some holistic doctors that helped me become a whole lot better.
Do you want to know more? Get Stroke Forward: How to Become Your Own Healthcare Advocate . . . One Step at a Time.