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A STROKE OF LUCK...

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A STROKE OF LUCK...


Before I explain my recent "stroke of luck", I want to take a moment to thank some very deserving people.

FRIENDS AND FOLLOWERS:

You sometimes wonder at my age if your work and overall life has made an impact on the outside world. I've always strived to make a positive difference in the lives of others. That's occasionally easier said than done, but you work at it, It's a goal. Sometimes, you never really know the impact you've made until that obituary comes out, and then it's a bit late. It doesn't diminish what you did, it's just late. Well, I just had what I consider a stroke of luck. Not only did I survive, but it appears I may return to a fairly normal pre-stroke life. On top of that, the thousands of emails and messages with prayers and support are proof that I've made a lot of friends. I can't thank you all individually, but each one of you should know, your thoughts and prayers were deeply felt and noted. You brought me hope and joy at a time of doubt and uncertainty. I am moved beyond words. I salute you.


MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS

When you walk into a situation that is unknown, and you need serious help, there is no better feeling than knowing dedicated professionals are there to help. You see it in their determination, feel it in their encouragement, and you know in your heart this is your best chance to fight another day. I don't know the names of many who treated me, but the doctors, nurses, technicians, and therapists at both St Luke's and Finley were flat out amazing. What a potent team they make. If I had to fight a war, I want them on my side. I tip my hat in deep respect!


MY FAMILY

When you are in need of love and a comforting word, your family is there. But it's much more than that, they are a shoulder to cry on and an anchor to rely on. Carolyn, as always was by my side, doing the dirty work in the trenches. She was amazing. My daughter Eden, soon to be twenty, gave me strength by allowing me to visualize her college graduation, wedding, and perhaps someday a grand baby. My mother Rose, Mother-in-law Dotty, sister Luann, aunt Chick, and many others were the engine of the support train. Special people to be sure!


A STROKE OF LUCK...my unique story

Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail said, "everything ends badly, that's why it ends". True or not, I came closer to the end than ever before thanks to a stroke last Friday. It happened following outpatient surgery for an irregular heartbeat at St Luke's in Cedar Rapids. I came home feeling fine. My plan was to put out a blog, eat something, and call it a day. Little did I know, my day was just beginning.


At 10:15pm I finished the blog, took off my glasses and looked up only to see two of everything, especially from the nose left. As bad as that was, what really threw me was I had no pain, no numbness, and was able to speak and think effectively. If I covered an eye, left or right, my vision was normal, but as soon as I looked with both eyes I was back to double vision (diplopia). Initially, the idea of a stroke never crossed my mind. After 10 minutes with no improvement, I managed to find a number through St Luke's hospital to contact medical help. The lady I spoke with urged me to get to the nearest emergency room. That's when it dawned on me that I may have had a stroke.


By 11:30pm. I was at the emergency room of Finley Hospital in Dubuque. It did not take long for the staff to assess the situation. They issued a stroke alert and doctors and nurses suddenly surrounded me. Next thing I know, I'm in a green gown, hooked to an IV, and on my way for a CT scan.


After the CT scan came back negative, there was a sigh of relief as that meant no clot or bleeding was visible. At that point, it was determined that I would be moved to the stroke ward on the 5th floor. I arrived there before dawn Saturday and was constantly being tested, poked, and prodded....as they say, standard procedure. My next big test would be an MRI around 10:30am. The MRI is a little different from the CT scan, but it's useful since it can often find small areas of bleeding in the brain that the CT scan won’t. Eventually, it came back negative, meaning neither one of the major tests for strokes indicated one.


As Saturday wore on, my vision slowly improved by the left side still was impacted by double vision. At this point, it was determined that what I experienced was a TIA, or transient ischemic attack, which is like a temporary stroke. It means there’s a temporary (transient) lack of blood flow to part of your brain. Without blood flow, the brain cells malfunction and start to die (ischemia). The TIA is a medical emergency that’s very similar to an ischemic stroke. The symptoms of the two are the same, but TIA symptoms go away within 24 hours. The TIA is a medical emergency, just like a stroke is. That’s because there’s no way to predict how long a TIA will last, and every minute counts.


A common nickname for TIAs is “mini-strokes.” But that’s not an accurate name. A TIA isn’t necessarily “mini” or smaller, and TIAs can easily affect large brain areas. Importantly, a stroke may occur after a TIA, within a matter of minutes, hours or days.

There are also two critical differences between strokes and TIAs. The first is that a TIA stops on its own. A stroke doesn’t, and it needs treatment to stop and reverse the effects. A stroke also leaves behind evidence on a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. The changes remain even if your symptoms go away.


My discharge papers say I suffered an embolism of the cerebral artery (likely a blood clot). I had a 6th nerve palsy behind my right eye that produced double vision. That fits the criteria for a TIA.


So now I'm home from the hospital and resuming life. I'm a very fortunate man that my symptoms appear to be temporary. At least for now, the good Lord has more fish for me to fry. The way I see it, I had a stroke of luck, and I'm going to take advantage of it. The weather charts will be fired up tomorrow, and I'll be back in the game of weather and life. Thank you all for your well wishes! Roll weather...TS

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