So I had a stroke...

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Virides

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Hello All

This is Scott from Virides. Whenever you see Virides post or respond to anything online, 99% of the time it's me :)

Big story, grab a cuppa...

So I am 31 (32 next year) and on November 14th I just came home to my parent's place from an early family Xmas dinner. Rather than drive home late at night I stayed at their place to drive back the next day. So come Sunday morning, I woke up from a late night of watching TV shows on the couch at about 6 am. I stumbled over to the guest room (the usual kind of tired, considering what I did that night) because my parents suggested I should go to bed properly.

6.45am...

I wake up and the first thing I say is "Mum! I can't see and I feel really heavy!" My parents come in and immediately dial 000. My Dad reckoned I was having a stroke as the left of my face was droopy but it wasn't clear. The ambulance came and they couldn't figure out was wrong with me. My pulse was about 40, pressure was about 80/65, temp was 34deg and I was extremely dehydrated (they put 2L of saline in me). My eyesight wasn't blurry or black, I couldn't see because everything was double and flicking from right to left. As soon as it was at the left it snapped back to the right.

When I got to the hospital they were all perplexed by my condition since they had to follow protocols and not just assume what my Dad was saying. Everything they did insisted that I was having a very bad migraine. The lead doctor came in on her day off specifically to see me, it felt like I was in an episode of House lol. I was lucky to go to the Mater Hospital which is the big General Hospital on the South side of Brisbane, near the CBD. It has everything and is especially good at figuring out the mystery problems. It also turned out to have the newest and best Neuro section with some of Australia's leading doctors - I was very lucky in that sense.

Came Tuesday and they had done all they could based on how I was. By this time my pressure was all over the place. But mainly I had a HUGE headache. The best way to describe it is imagine those headaches where you feel blood pulsing in your head. Now imagine it was on the whole time, like something was coming out of my head.

Since they weren't sure but the best they could say was I had a migraine, so they were going to send me home. So I asked for a wheelchair because I couldn't walk all that way (my balance was screwed). But they wanted to see how I walked so they could be sure I could function at home and recover. So they helped me up and got me to walk to the door. Now I felt I was upright but to them I leaned left and hit the wall and rested. I said that I didn't feel too good and I remember the doctor say "Hmm, must be something else, lay down".

So I went and had an MRI (the noisiest thing you could imagine, 20mins of keep still). They found an anomaly and got me to have a Contrast CT (the contrast was hot and tasted like, metal?). The surgeon came in to see me at the bed and said "You have had a stroke.". I was surprised at myself to not be upset or anything. I just thought to myself "Awesome I know what it is, now lets fix my headache". He said I had a stuttering stroke so the clot blocked the artery then later (presumably Tuesday) and it ruptured causing the pressure intensify.

They said I needed to have surgery which my Mum was upset but for me there was no thinking about it. To me it was like "If I don't do it, it's not fixing the problem, so just do it.". Signed the form and I had to fast for 12hrs. In that time they had to watch me and always had a theatre on standby. They did a CT scan at about the 11th hr to test no growth in the pressure, which there was none.

So I laid on the bed in the theatre and with my inquisitive nature I asked how I go to sleep (first time I was in surgery of that nature - ever). They said they don't do counting back anymore. What they give you are 2 parts. The first thing I thought to myself was "Assisted Death" lol. First part makes you forget and the second is the general. The reason for the two parts is that the general is given so you are in a twilight mode, hovering just over conscious. The forgetful component just covers those times you wake up mid-surgery. You might feel everything but since you forget it never happened right? The moment they injected Part A my eyes opened to them checking I was waking up. To me it was merely a blink and 4.5hrs of my life I will never remember. It's fascinating. The big reason for the change is that you don't need to recover from the general. The moment I was awake from the surgery, I was like I had woken up from a good sleep, no problems.

I was put in to ICU. Stroke patients go into a special section. My bed was worth about 150k and it was awesome, it could move around to ensure you don't get sores etc. But sadly that wasn't enough to make up for the time there. I wasn't able to move my head much but there was a clock, about 2m away. 1 minute felt like aaaaages. Since by that time I hadn't eaten for about 17hrs, in ICU I wasn't allowed any food or water. I as in ICU for 36hrs or so, add the time I was fasting, that's about 53hrs! Also because I had brain surgery, I had to have Neuro Observations, where every hour they had to get you to move your arms and legs in certain ways. This meant I also couldn't sleep for that time. As I wasn't allowed to drink all I could have was my mouth dampened with a swab.

My name is Scott Owen and a mistake was made on my chart where I was shown as Owen Scott (the problem with 2 first names). So for about 7hrs I was delayed in getting out as a Speech Pathologist had to pass me for eating and drinking (to stop me choking). But because of my name mistake they bed name (Scott Owen) and their chart name (Owen Scott) delayed them. So I had a plan....sort of, it was accidentally actually but it sure worked.

I fell asleep and woke up in excruciatingly desperate times in wanting to take a **** lol. Every patient had to have a catheter inserted and I was going prior to this, episode. So I called over the nurse and asked her if I am supposed to feel this bloated. She said it does feel like that sometimes and you try to stop yourself, but just go it's ok. And I said "Are you sure, it's painful" and she said "It's ok, just go" and I'm alright. So I go ahhhhh then I said "Is it also supposed to be warm and wet?". She just went "Right...sigh" lol. The catheter had slipped out a bit so about 10% went in the tube and the rest went everywhere. It's amazing how they can change a bed with you in it back to being all dry. I even destroyed these expensive air socks (makes it feel like massaging). She just threw them in the bin, there was no saving them. So in a short period I destroyed something, win! and simultaneously I became an old person (I could do my business any time I wanted, someone else had to clean up the mess) lol.

It got all the nurses attentions and the speech doctor was nearby and said "Oh your name is actually Scott Owen" and I am thinking.... umm yea! lol

So I was in acute recovery and all was going good until I got a bladder infection from the incident -_- I have had a temperature before, but for 3 days I was at 41deg, 40deg, 39deg each night. It was horrible and I only got over the medication about 2 weeks ago.

After acute I was transferred to inpatient rehab. I'm 31 and to people of my age you think "I am getting old, I have wrinkles starting, sigh". It's normal at that age. But trust me, when you are in a place meant for those over 60, it's hard to feel like you are old and others certainly have it worse. You are now thinking, well you had a stroke so now you are just like those older folk, just 30yrs sooner. Wrong.

To everyone I was extremely lucky. To me it's taking a long time to understand "lucky" (more on that later). So you hear stroke and think, half your body doesn't work anymore and you are in need of care for a long time. Well I had my stroke in my Cerebellum. This is actually the best place to have a stroke as it has nothing to do with motor functions and muscles. It connects the two halves together and allows them to talk to each other. When I had my stoke and surgery, I lost about 20% of it - either in scar tissue or what was removed. The Cerebellum controls - Heart (pulse, pressure among other things), balance, temperature, and a host of other things I forget. Basically it controls the one thing keeping you alive - the heart. The reason why it is the best is that it is the one that doesn't leave you dependent on others - walking, eating, toilet, etc.

There is still a big chance I could die and the like, but I didn't and in fact I am a small subset of those sufferers where nothing happened. Basically I am top 5% (180000 strokes a year, but the proportion of cerebellum strokes are such that a hospital usually sees only one case a year of my nature). I was a special case and so I had doctors in training use me as an applied knowledge test as such (I liked it, so it was ok). I think I saw something like 15 doctors when I was there :)

So being in the rehab felt even worse when I felt totally normal and everyone else had the problems. So I made sure that I told them I wasn't showing off, I just couldn't help but be normal despite the stroke. They all said they were happy that especially at my age, that I didn't need to think of those kinds of things.

We could never find out the balance problem, because every task they gave me I could beat, some I even did with my eyes closed. It got to a point where they said "We have never done this before, but it's the hardest we can devise, don't break your ankles - be very careful." I was able, with a few trials, do it forward and backwards, eyes closed. Basically balance wasn't a conscious problem, I have since discovered it is subconscious which is why we never could find the fault. This brings me up to top 1% for balance anyways.

My eyes corrected themselves in ICU so I have never had a problem there, so awesome. Most take seeing for granted.

I had to see a psychologist because people in my situation get very frustrated with being "normal" in hospital. So in talking to her she discovered (I am not diagnosed with the debilitating form) that I have Asperger's tendancies which has explained a lot about how I analyse EVERYTHING. But the stroke has exacerbated it so it's best to think of it like I was at 40% now I'm at 50%. So I was naturally able to develop my own coping strategy at 40% but now it's not enough, so I have to learn more. It only gets to me under certain stressful situations but I am sure I can address it. I am going to see someone in the new year who specialises in it to help me and my Mum out. It explains why I tend to argue, but to me it's always about her conflicting with how my brain works. So it will help her deal with me better now :) They said that everyone in the world has it, but different people have different intensities, so typically engineers have it. So this says to me as my chosen career as an Industrial Designer for work was a perfect choice (also perfectly fits the product design nature of Virides and the production requirements for Virides Laser).

I have to be in recovery for atleast 2 months, but looks to be about 3months because of a pre-planned overseas trip to Japan in Feb/March. When I go back to work it will be like 2hrs/week or day, then escalate from there. Work has been really awesome about it. The day of the incident my Mum got a message saying "Forget about work, just focus on getting better". In October I just got my 10yrs there and also I rarely take sick leave, so I had 400hrs saved up. The CEO came in to see me with the General Manager and they reminded me that they also have a Pay Insurance thing, so they pay for their insurance to pay me 75% of my wage, so I don't have money to worry about. They also said that any time I need to get to the rehab clinic in the new year, they will drive me there and home whenever I need it. With 200ppl working at the Airport where it is based and my rehab about 20mins away, they said it's easy and any one will do it. Even if it means the CEOs have time to they will. No questions asked, straight away so no waiting for me. The only thing I can say to anyone is, if you find a great to work, hold on to it and do your best. Respect them and they respect you back 10 fold.

I also can't drive at least for another month as a minimum, but given what work will do, I am in no rush. Though being stuck home is annoying. My eyes are fine but my head hurts all the time (headache ever day since middle of Nov). Also can't drink alcohol for 2yrs, but I don't really drink anyways, so no big deal. Infact I can save more money :)



I know there was a lot and perhaps no one really noticed I was gone, but I like telling my story because the Neurologist Head Doctor said to me "You now have an epic story!" :)
 

Stuart

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Scott, sorry to hear about your misfortune but I am glad you are still around to tell the tale.

All the best for a speedy recovery
Stu
 

BredliFreak

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Sounds terrible, good to know you are still around to tell the tale! I hope you recover Scott!

BF
 

Virides

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Thanks heaps guys. I am just glad I can continue with what I was doing.

It's just so great to know I don't need help doing basic things like walking, eating, etc.
 

Pauls_Pythons

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I'm certainly not envious though you make the experience sound like a great learning experience.
Here's hoping the recovery process continues & you are soon firing on all cylinders.
 

Snapped

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You were very lucky in regards to where the stroke was Virides, I hope your recovery goes smoothly.

An experience, that's for sure. Did they say what caused it?
 

Virides

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You were very lucky in regards to where the stroke was Virides, I hope your recovery goes smoothly.

An experience, that's for sure. Did they say what caused it?

Thanks :)

All strokes come from some sort of clot - blood or cholesterol. In my case it was a blood clot. What happened though was rare.

So it turns out I have a hole in my heart, in the wall between the two chambers. 25% of people all over the world have this hole and it can either be totally open or partially closed. It comes when babies in the whom can't breathe oxygen so a hole is present with a flap allowing oxygenated blood to pass through which comes from the mother. When you take your first breath this flap closes and seals. In some it doesn't do that partially if at all.

A stroke occurs almost always when you are sleeping. This is because blood is able to settle and pool to create blood clots. This is why I woke up that morning with the effects. Normally what is supposed to happen to clots (which everyone at any age gets all the time) is that it forms generally in the legs (not including some sort of trauma which can make it form elsewhere). It travels through your body up to your heart where if you had no hole in the heart, it would pass right by into your lungs where it dissolves - a natural process. Sometimes the clot is too big and this causes and Edema in your lung, still bad but treatable but the problem with a stroke is it is random and so more dangerous.

Even with a partially open hole in your heart the clot can pass by, with a fully open hole it is a higher chance but it still can pass by easily. So there are two sides to the heart, the Up side (brain) and down side (body/lungs). Generally if you get a clot the clot travels to your lungs where it is supposed to dissolve, but it can then travel to the brain. It can also form on the up side of the heart, giving you a stroke. But all my physiology on the up side was fine. So they have figure out what is most likely to have happened.

The clot formed in my legs and it got caught on the hole in the heart. As the blood passed past it built in size. It got to such a size that the blood pressure forced it through the hole into my up side. They said that the clot was shaped and traveled past the hole in such a way that by chance it got stuck. 100s or 1000s of clots in my lifetime have passed through fine and this one happened to get stuck. I will be having a scan to determine the size of the hole and depending on it's size I will either have to have surgery to plug the hole or I have to be on aspirin the rest of my life which has a secondary effect of thinning the blood, reducing clot occurrence.

Also my stroke was known as a stuttering stroke where it first clotted the part of my brain but still let some blood past. The clot then grew further in size where it then plugged the vein and then ruptured. This is why on the day I could still function quite well but my symptoms elevated on Tuesday. If I was sent home that day like I was going to be, I likely would have either died or lost motor functions.

Scan is 12th of Feb 2016 and I am flying to Japan on the 19th. We will be having a consultation later in January where I will be telling them that if I need some surgery it will have to be after Japan and VHS. Because I have had this all my life before so what's another flight. The difference this time is I will still be on aspirin and be wearing my anti-clot stockings. Being winter in Japan at the time, it's no problem.
 

pythoninfinite

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Sounds like you were extremely lucky Scott! I wonder if the docs will support your flying for so many hours at reduced air pressure so soon after this event? Not because of the heart issue, but because of the relatively recent damage to the vessels in your brain. You may need to have certification from your specialists before the airline will carry you. Good luck with your continued recovery :)!

Jamie
 

Virides

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Sounds like you were extremely lucky Scott! I wonder if the docs will support your flying for so many hours at reduced air pressure so soon after this event? Not because of the heart issue, but because of the relatively recent damage to the vessels in your brain. You may need to have certification from your specialists before the airline will carry you. Good luck with your continued recovery :)!

Jamie

I tend to ask people a lot of questions, and the Neurologist said that by that time (February) that it wouldn't be a problem, but if I wanted I could get confirmation from my GP at the time. Considering what the Cardiologist said the only factor would be heart surgery, but I doubt it would be that much of an emergency considering if it was, I wouldn't be on the computer right now :p
 

Ironmind91

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Terrible news mate, thank god you came through. For what it's worth, I wish you all the best mate. Hopefully you recover quickly.
 

Darlyn

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Upwards and onwards. Good luck with your recovery.
 

Snapped

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Thanks so much for replying with all that info, now I can actually understand the mechanism of a stroke.
Very interesting reading!
 

CrazyNut

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Sorry to here mate. Good to here your on the mend though.
 

BillS

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Wow, that was an educational read! Thank you for sharing, and best wishes for a quick and complete recovery.
 
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