Experiencing a Stroke at 56… and never letting it get the best of me…

014-1

The last weekend of January, right after I put the finishing touches to this posting, I began to experience something very unusual. You see, I have been in relatively good health, with the exception of acute hypertension that I routinely ignored. But this was something rather alarming as my entire right side of my body became numb. No feeling whatsoever from my head down my torso, my whole right arm, and my right leg. This was a little alarming, and I called down to my room-mate telling him that something was wrong. “What’s wrong?” he asked, and I responded: “I think I’m having a Stroke…”

IMG_5306
Here I am serving a penalty during LeMons New England

I was able to make it down the stairs of my home, slip on a coat (this was January in Connecticut after all), and with a little help, climb into the passenger seat of my Envoy. We headed off to a smaller community hospital in Manchester, Connecticut, and arrived at the Emergency Center some fifteen to twenty minutes later. Don, my room-mate by the way, was an absolute nervous wreck, puffing away on one cigarette after another all the way to the hospital. Once there, I was able to to walk into the Emergency Entrance, and take a seat at the front desk. By this time, I was starting to go in and out of conciseness, but I do remember the nurse at the desk get on the intercom and state the following: “Stroke Emergency!”

IMG_5236
Being Strapped In by my team mate Alex… LeMons New England 2010

I was pretty much out of it by then, but according to Don, I was rushed into a waiting room along with eight to ten people surrounding me, and they proceeded to monitor vital signs, hooking up intravenous lines, and connecting me with various electronic cardiovascular monitors. I was in and out of consciousnesses while I was shuttled around the hospital for the taking of x-rays, and being scanned with the latest MRI equipment. Apparently, there was a blood clot within my brain causing the stroke, and the team at the Hospital was able to break it up using an experimental procedure. However, as a precaution, I was transported to Hartford Hospital in case there were complications.

IMG_52072
L to R: My Room-Mate Don, Yours Truly, Team Mates Alex and Andy Sarkozi, and Blake…

The next thing I remember was waking up in my own hospital room with what seemed like a dozen tubes connected to various parts of my body, including a couple of what can only be described as airbags that inflated and deflated on my lower legs. There was an electronic cardiogram machine that systematically took my blood pressure readings, and promptly sounded an alarm if the readings were too high (which seem to happen consistently). Various drugs were tried, and the machines were kept quiet, at least for a few hours. Most of the day on Monday was spent drifting in and out of consciousnesses, with the occasional blaring of the electronic nanny.

IMG_5266
I really don’t quite know what I am doing here…

A funny thing though, I was starting to get stronger by the evening, and was able to eat something solid by dinnertime. Still, I wasn’t ready to run marathons yet, and there was still a few tests that the doctors wanted to perform, commencing on Tuesday morning. The medication was once again altered, and by the afternoon, they wanted to see if I was mobile. To their surprise, I was able to walk, and I even ventured up and down a set of (fake) stairs. I had a real lunch and dinner, and was transferred off the emergency ward Tuesday night.

LeMons_NE_10-0744

By Wednesday afternoon, I was released from the hospital. Don picked me up with the Envoy that afternoon, and I was at home by 5:00. We had no foodstuffs at the house, and I had to fill my five or so prescriptions, and I said I wanted to get out to the stores. Good thing I did because that Friday, the Northeast was hit with a major blizzard (We received around four feet of snow on Friday and Saturday). Yes, I helped clear the snow over the weekend…

Penalized Drivers Lemons-thumb-550x412
Serving a penalty during the 2009 New England LeMons Race

So, I’m now on the road to recovery. Am I 100%? Hell no, but I am back to work, and I am going through physical rehabilitation. I get easily fatigued now, and my blood pressure remains dangerously high (My Doctor is constantly adjusting drug dosages and it is much lower that it has been), and my penmanship really sucks right now, but I am making progress. I expect to be 95% by Summer…

022
A Reflective Pause…

There is just one thing I want to make crystal clear… If you feel anything that isn’t quite right with your body, don’t leave it to chance. If I didn’t make the decision to get to the Hospital when I did, there might be the possibility of things ending differently. Take care of yourself… there are people depending on you. By the way, thanks for your your warm wishes… I means a lot to me.

37 Comments

    1. Sorry, I think I accidentally hit the tiny downvote button button instead of the tiny upvote button a fly's hair away. My apollogies, I tried to undo it, but it wouldn't let me.

  1. Thanks for sharing this with us, Jim, and thankfully, you are still with us. You were in my prayers daily…………it worked.

  2. Great to see you back on track. Continued best wishes and prayers for the fastest line to a full recovery.

  3. This is excellent stuff. Determination, faith (in whatever or whoever), hope and luck seem to have served you well. Long may good health win through. (*tips hat).

  4. Glad to see you are on your way to a good recovery. Thanks for sharing your story. Folks need all the reminders they can get to listen to their body and go to the doctor if something doesn't feel right.

  5. Freaking attention whore! Any stunt to get the spotlight back on you. But it's pretty tough to top a racing Corvair. Seriously, it's quite a relief to have an update, and hear that you're doing so well. I've been worried that you might now be resembling one of the lumpier vegetables. My deepest hopes for your rapid and complete recovery!

  6. Hey Jim, it's great to hear from you… I was worried there. Glad to hear you're pretty much back to normal… well… in a relative sense at least.

  7. Great to see you're doing better! I liked your original "Obscure Muscle Car" articles, looking forward to the new ones.
    And here's another reminder to everyone else out there who gets told they're hypertensive, do something about it while you can! I've knocked 25 points off mine after being handed a piece of paper year ago that told me I've crossed into that category.

    1. Agreed; one of the great losses to 20th century literature was the early death of Cyril M. Kornbluth, whose WWII-triggered hypertension (try lugging around a .50 cal through the Ardennes during the Bulge and see how you fare) struck him down on a train platform as he was running to attend an interview. He left behind a young wife and 2 children, which is no less tragic than the loss of what he might have published had he lived beyond his 34 brightly burning years.

  8. Jim! So glad you're doing better. I'm not over here too much lately, but when I think of Hooniverse, I always think of you and your weekend postings. Strokes are about as scary as it gets, with a huge range of severity and outcomes, so I'm so relieved and happy to see you doing so well. Welcome back, my friend, you have been missed,

  9. Being a Corvair race car driver, this is probably not your first speedy recovery. Wishing you well…take care!

  10. UDMan…sorry to be late to the party but know I am glad to hear you are doing much better and your sense of timing is impeccable. Congrats Man.

  11. Really glad to hear you are doing better, Jim. Got busy with life and didn't realize you had been away from the keyboard until I saw something mentioned in the blog the other day……. My wife had what the doctors called a 'mini stroke' about a year ago, and she is still experiencing some odd symptoms……. You probably saved your own life recognizing what was going on early.

  12. Glad to hear that all is improving. It is astonishing how quickly we heal with good care.
    Its that damned last 10 percent that takes forever. Just be patient with yourself, things are different now.

  13. I won't say it was your example all by itself, but it was a very strong factor. After some concerned prompting by close friends I have finally made the call to face up to some much needed health maintenance next week. Hopefully it won't be too difficult and if I'm fortunate, will close the chapter on a traumatic accident whose effects have spiralled downward for over 2 decades.
    And being long overdue to visit some dear relatives near Bethlehem, I'm definitely going to try make some in-person time to say hello to you and a few Hoons out that way when I'm there.

    1. You're not the only one. The phrase "I have been in relatively good health, with the exception of" hit a little too close to home for me. I've got a bit of family history I'm trying to stay out ahead of, but haven't been keeping up over the winter. I've been getting back on my exercise program (I do mostly ok with the eat right part of it; it's too easy to put off a workout until tomorrow sometimes).
      Good luck, and take care of yourself. You too, Jim.

  14. not a lot to add but just wanted to say (type) it, i'm glad you're well on your way to a full recovery, and amazed at how fast it is going. stay strong!

  15. Glad to hear you got some help in time to make a difference, and even happier to hear you are on a recovery path.

  16. I don't know you at all, but i love your work and am grateful you are able to continue.
    More importantly is your timely and poignant reminder that strokes and other things can and do happen to many of us.
    We and our loved ones will be much better off if we take care of ourselves.
    Thanks again for your excellent work.

  17. Awesome news, Jim. Keeping up the prayers still. I'm hoping they find the right meds to get your BP down. Are you salt free?

  18. Good to see you're recovering so well and rather quickly if I may say so.
    If this is your penmanship really sucking right now, you (we) really have nothing to worry about!

  19. Jim, I can't add much to everyone sentiments above but my own heartfelt thanks that you're well on the road to recovery. I missed your posts during your absence and look forward to many more now that you're back. Now listen to your doctor.

  20. Thank you very much for not pulling a David E. Davis on us and checking out! Your prose is a happy distraction from the mundane pains of life and as a proper Hoon I'd like to say "stay a while".

  21. Jim was a very lucky man! He lives to play another day. "Don't ignore high blood pressure" is what his story is all about!
    Seems that no Real Guy wants to listen to some joker in a white coat tell them to change their eating/exercise/smoking habits, and then we hear those whispered horror stories about the side effects of medication, especially the one about the limp noodle syndrome. You know, where Hoonivites' second favorite activity becomes powered by a Walbro 1BBL instead of a 750 Holley. BUT that's not always the case, and meds are not always the doctor's answer. High blood pressure will eventually kill your eyes, your kidneys and ALL of your fun, So pull your head out of the sand, or where ever you've had it, grow up, and take care of your blood pressure. Hooniverse needs its readers!

  22. Jim, it's so good to hear you are making such a great recovery. You did the most important thing of all which was to seek help right away when you experienced symptoms. I think the rule of thumb is three hours — wait longer than that and the outcome is a lot less likely to be good.
    Loved seeing all those LeMons Corvair pix. Looking forward to more of your superb writing and hopefully more adventures, if not LeMons then something else!

  23. Nice reality check for the rest of us, Jim; thanks for sharing. He's made a great point at the end..if you think somethings wrong..don't wait. Better to be safe than sorry – once again rules the day.
    Speedy recovery, Jim.

  24. Been a little busy dealing w/ family health issues of my own, so I just saw this. Good to see you back, sir!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The maximum upload file size: 64 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here