Wednesday, March 31, 2010

When the words don't come...

Ever struggle for the right word?

For most people, that happens from time to time. But for some stroke survivors, that struggle happens every day. The next few blog entries will include some resources about stroke-related aphasia - problems that arise when your someone's speech is affected.

A reference from

There are many ways a stroke can affect a person’s ability to speak. Symptoms are typically related to the specific area of the brain affected, as language function in the brain is localized inside highly specialized areas such as Broca’s, Wernicke’s, and other areas.

In my case, I couldn't say a word initially, and hours later, was able to struggle some words. Not all of them made sense. Some were the wrong word. Others just gibberish. And not only speech, but reading and writing were affected as well.

Talk about frustration. I was writing for a living, based on questions I posed and answers I wrote down. That was all suddenly taken away.

Not only frustrating, but incredibly frightening.

I slowly regained reading and writing skills. But still, I wonder when I stumble in speech: Would it have happened if my stroke had never happened?

To get more information about aphasia, read the link above and the previous postings covering aphasia or speech. Then check back for more entries during the next few weeks.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

'Walk humbly with your God'

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
In the Sunday School class I attend, we're studying the book of Isaiah; parts of that book goes over time after time the failure of leaders to "walk humbly" with God - or anyone else, for that matter.

Time after time, the leaders walked away from God, leading the people astray to worship all those things - that is, the man-made objects that were idolized and worshiped - that do not deserve worship. And time after time, after human decisions went horribly wrong, people realized the errors.

We know that continues to this very day. How many things do we needlessly idolize? That we set in high priority?

While I'm not a language scholar, I'll go out on a limb and say that Micah didn't necessarily mean to "walk" literally. In this Holy Week, keep yourself in the presence of God. "Walk" in that presence. What a week it can be.

Friday, March 26, 2010

That one little word: in

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.

As Palm Sunday approaches, an important word to remember: "in."

That small word - " strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. ..." - packs some punch. Those two little words remind us that true strength is found in God.

Stroke recovery can be lonely and difficult. But remember, you are in God's strength and in his power. Rest in his love and strength.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

'Lord is my strength'

The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights. ...

Well, I didn't exactly feel like a deer but was able to finish a race.

Almost a dozen years ago, I couldn't even walk. Last Saturday,  I ran 13.1 miles in a half marathon in Sedalia, Mo. No records set, but God enabled me to hit my own height that day.

Stroke survivors recover at various levels. All require strength. This verse reminds us the source of that strength.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

'Qualities in increasing measure'

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

A logical chain of growth - you take one step, master one level, move on, continue to climb.

Stroke recovery is often that way. For years after mine, from time to time, I felt something changed from time to time, like another piece clicked into place.

And faith is a matter of progress - sometimes, slow progress - as well. Let it happen, even slowly. In your stroke recovery, in your faith journey.

Monday, March 15, 2010

'God works for the good'

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

"In all things" that Paul mentions can encompass a lot. It's a huge test of faith and to take that to mean "all things," even the those that seem bad.

For stroke survivors and their loved ones, it's often hard to see the good. Which brings up some lessons learned in 1 Kings and 2 Kings in the Old Testament. I've been listening to some of the Old Testament books while running in the last few weeks.

In these books, time and time again, those who love God seem surrounded with hopelessness. But God never abandons those who love him, even those, like all of us, who were far from perfect. When things go bad, remember, even those can turn to good with God. Love him and trust him.

(Image from flickr, posted by catiedid)

Friday, March 12, 2010

'God of all comfort' - pass it on

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

Who doesn't need comforting words? And who among us do not confront troubles, even daily?

Paul reminded the Corinthians about the comforts that God can provide. But that comfort is not only a balm, but a joy to share. Stroke awareness means not only being conscious of the signs and symptoms, but awareness of the needs that follow.

So take comfort in Paul's words. Receive God's comfort - then pass it along to those in need.

(Image from Heartlight)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

High stroke risk factor often ignored

IOM report calls hypertension a "neglected disease"
Despite high blood pressure being the cause of death in 1 of 6 US adults, and the greatest single risk factor for deaths from cardiovascular disease, millions of Americans are developing, living with, and dying from hypertension. The decade from 1995 to 2005 saw a 25% increase in the death rate from high blood pressure.

"We are failing to translate our public health and clinical knowledge into effective prevention, treatment, and control programs," observed the Committee on Public Health Priorities to Reduce and Control Hypertension in the US Population. Their report offers recommendations for changes by individuals, physicians, and policies to prevent and control high blood pressure and associated health problems.
 (Image from South Dakota Risk Pool)

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

One is too much - prevention must improve

Preventing recurrent strokes needs improvement
The study, published in Neurology, was based on 10,399 people in South Carolina who had a hospital discharge diagnosis of stroke in 2002. The results showed that nearly 25% of people who had a stroke died within one year from any cause and 8% had another stroke within a year.

These risks rose steadily one year after the initial stroke. By the end of four years after a stroke, the risk of another stroke was 18% and the risk of death was 41%.

“Furthermore, the risk of recurrent stroke was between three and six times higher than the risk of heart attack at different points during the study,” researcher Wuwei (Wayne) Feng, MD, MS, with the department of neuroscience at the Medical University of South Carolina, says in a news release. “Our findings suggest that South Carolina and possibly other parts of the United States may have a long way to go in preventing and reducing the risk factors for recurrent strokes.”

Monday, March 01, 2010

Yes, strokes can happen to the below-45 crowd

Strokes are increasing among young:
A total of 7.3% of stroke victims were younger than age 45 in 2005, up from 4.5% in 1993, says Brett M. Kissela, M.D., of the University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute.

The most likely culprits: rising rates of obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes -- the major risk factors for stroke -- among younger people, Kissela tells WebMD.

The average age of stroke patients dropped from 71 in 1993 to 68 in 2005, he says.
 Mine happened at age 39, and I'm not alone. More and more people of that age bracket are suffering strokes. Mine was apparently caused by a small hole between my upper heart chambers, allowing a small clot to pass from one side to another and to my brain.

Most of the factors blamed are preventable - so pay attention to stroke prevention.