Interview with Carol, a Stroke Survivor

Living_Brain_Disorder.jpgBRAIN BLOGGER (TONY): Hello Carol, On behalf of Brain Blogger and the GNIF, I’d like to welcome you to our forum entitled Anti-Stigmatization.

Our intent is to analyze and resist the societal tendency to stigmatize neurological and psychiatric patients. Further, we’d like to focus on how you have improvised, adapted and overcome your neurological challenges to regain some sense of normality and contribute to society. So, if you don’t mind Carol, please tell us a little about your stroke.

CAROL: I had my stroke on February 11, 2003. I had been feeling “off” all morning but went to work. When I realized I couldn’t type I called my daughter to take me to the hospital. While waiting for her, my symptoms got worse. I couldn’t talk well, my left side was weak. When she arrived I got up to go with her and collapsed. They called the paramedics. At the hospital things went from bad to worse. I couldn’t speak at all and my left side was paralyzed.

BRAIN BLOGGER (TONY): Carol, are you aware of any precipitating factors that led to your stroke?

CAROL: My stroke was caused from high blood pressure.

BRAIN BLOGGER (TONY): Carol, would you please give our readers a little insight into what your rehabilitation was like?

CAROL: I was in the hospital about 3 days when they transferred me to a rehab center. There I spent the next 5 or 6 weeks. By now I could speak with some impairment, but my left side was paralyzed and I was in a wheel chair. I went through intense PT, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy, 2 times a day except Sunday. In about 2 weeks I was walking with a cane part time, wheelchair part time. I was accompanied to the shower each day.

BRAIN BLOGGER (TONY): Interesting, I guess we don’t typically expect that one day we may not be able to bathe on our own. A sobering thought indeed.

CAROL: One thing that was embarrassing was I couldn’t shave under my right arm.

BRAIN BLOGGER (TONY): It really is the little things that we miss I guess. What happened next Carol?

CAROL: After about 3-4 weeks my speech had improved enough that I stopped speech therapy. When it was time to be released, I had home health nurses, both PT and OT at home 3 times a week. I was still in a wheelchair and cane.

BRAIN BLOGGER (TONY): Was it necessary to change your home furniture or architecture?

CAROL: I had a seat in the bathtub where my son got me in and out but I took care of the washing. I exercised and used many of my son’s inventions and I am convinced that they helped in my near complete recovery.

BRAIN BLOGGER (TONY): I’m sorry to interrupt Carol… your son is an inventor?

CAROL: Yes, he actually became an inventor to help me recover.

BRAIN BLOGGER (TONY): What kinds of things did he invent for you?

CAROL: Well for instance, my hand had to be taped to a Styrofoam board several times a day to keep it from curling up. He had to do it for me so he came up with the idea to make a splint out of a plastic hand form and it had Velcro closures. After a short while I could do it myself. I was astounded as was the hospital staff. At each juncture of my rehabilitation, he would come up with something to aid me, from a toilet arm rest, an apparatus at the sink to rest and stimulate my arm, to different types of exercise equipment.

BRAIN BLOGGER (TONY): Do you feel that you gained a degree of autonomy from your son’s inventions?

CAROL: I feel he saved my life, not literally, but his “inventions” made my recovery much faster and so much easier.

BRAIN BLOGGER (TONY): Carol, are you able to participate in any community, volunteer, or extracurricular activities?

CAROL: I work at a church and that keeps my real busy. I make greeting cards and sell them, and I especially love to garden. I haven’t had the time to volunteer but I would love to. The hospital asked me to come and speak to stroke victims, you know, give them courage and hope, but I have not do so yet.

BRAIN BLOGGER (TONY): Well Carol, we are so grateful that you’ve shared your story with us. Further, we’d like to extend an invitation to your incredible son. Maybe he could chat a bit with us regarding his incredibly empowering inventions–such a fascinating story. Until next time Brain Bloggers,


For further information on strokes (cerebral vascular attacks), please consult the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Tony Brown, BA, EMT

Tony Brown, BA, EMT, graduated cum laude from Harvard University. He served as an EMT in the US Army stationed in Germany.
See All Posts By The Author