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There are some things about me that shock people.  Mostly it’s the things that I say.  I’ll give you an example.  The other day I was in a conversation with a couple of people and my friend said to me “you’re always thinking.”  This is what I replied……”some would say that I think too much.  You’d think that I wouldn’t think as much after I blew out a part of my brain but I think that I think more now.”  One of the people in this conversation was kinda mortified that I said I blew out a part of my brain.  The other person in this conversation is quite used to me saying things like that.  It made me realize that saying stuff like that scares the normals of the world.  After what I’ve been through there really isn’t anything that could shock me and I wouldn’t hesitate to say something like that to you guys but I guess if you haven’t experienced this yourself or with a close loved one that kind of humor freaks some people out.  So I guess I maybe should start watching what I say to certain people.  Or not.




Sleep and Rest

There is a theme in stroke recovery and that theme is ‘repetition.’  I say it all the time.  But I think I say it too much.  I think I’m giving the wrong impression.  It’s easy for me to say that now, 3-years post-stroke, because that’s what I need to do.  I need to do a crapload of repetitions.  But that first year this was NOT the case.  I don’t know when the right time is after a stroke to start exercising intensely and for long periods of time.  I don’t know.

What I do know is this…..The importance of sleep and rest is EXTREMELY downplayed.  Healing takes place in the brain when you are asleep.  That’s when the brain recharges.  The first year after my stroke, I was afraid to move – so I barely did.  The first year, why I did this I have no idea because I very much wished I was dead, but that first year I would walk on my treadmill for an hour and a half to two hours every single day.  This meant holding onto the handrails with a death grip but I did it.  Don’t ask me what motivated me to do that because I have no clue.  I’m serious, I was suicidal, I wished the stroke killed me.  But it didn’t, it left me disabled.  Walking on the treadmill would wipe me out for the rest of the day.  That was it for me.  Other than my treadmilling, I rested.  I slept.  A LOT.  Max of 3 hours of activity a day.  Then at 9 months post-stroke I started a practice of meditation and chanting.  For nearly a year, everything I did in my yoga practice was sitting in a chair.  There was very little physical movement.  I sat in a chair, did meditations and breath work using very specific brain protocols.  A little at a time, a very little at a time, I was able to do more and was less afraid of physical movement.  The meditations and breath work rewired my brain without actually performing a specific movement.  And also, I still slept and rested a lot.  I got back into exercise very SLOWLY and with A LOT of rest.

Look, I’ve been through absolute hell so I have a WILDLY different perspective on things than other medical people.  What I’m about to say I would not have said 3+ years ago.  When you spend years and years in school to become a doctor or therapist it makes you have a certain air, an ego, an arrogance.  I get it.  I had it.  I had it big-time.  Every single doctor or therapist I’ve ever met has it to some degree.  Some a little, some a lot.  I had it, then I had something else.  I had a stroke and those arrogant doctors not only didn’t help me, they made it worse.  I did my own research and found my own ways to get “better.”  That involved a hell of a lot of sleep and yoga. the real kind.  It’s expensive and not covered by insurance(which is utterly ridiculous) so you have to pay out-of-pocket for it but the price is irrelevant to me, it gave me my life back.  I now know things, a lot of things, about recovering from a brain injury.  Again, I wouldn’t have said this 3 years ago but today I’ll say it – Why on earth would you take the advice of someone who hasn’t walked this path?  The “experts” I saw gave me NO helpful advice.  If I offended anyone with this post, then you’re gonna be offended.



I had lunch a few weeks ago with my old boss, the greatest man in the world, to discuss my upcoming job thing.  We were talking about my capability of treating patients and I told him that I couldn’t because of my tremor.  Because of that, I couldn’t do any manual(hands-on) stuff.  Also, I couldn’t guard anyone while they were practicing walking because I have my own walking/balance issues.  Especially on stairs.  He said “well you sure hide it well.”  I said “yeah I know, I know what I look like but I got issues.”  He replied “So do I.” 🙂  You can’t tell anything is wrong with me to look at me and for that I’m very lucky but I have a lot of issues.  DO NOT judge a book by its cover!  I couldn’t/wouldn’t tell someone that they will be safe as long as I’m next to them because I can’t guarantee that.  I mean, you can’t guarantee that not having had a stroke but I really really really couldn’t guarantee it now.  But I can most certainly tell people what to do.  I like that.



Here’s a picture of my dog looking out the window…….


This may not seem like a great picture but here’s why I took it.  The sun is out.  Seeing the sun is a rarity in Pittsburgh.  It’ll be gone in a few hours, it’s very fickle.

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Letter From Your Brain

Just a reminder, everyone should read this.

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There’s a labrum at the shoulder joint and at the hip joint. These joints, the shoulder and hip, are called ball-and-socket joints. At the end of both the upper arm bone and thigh, the end near the body, is a ball. The ball fits into the part of the joint on the body that is a socket. This kind of joint allows all kinds of motion. In order to make this socket deeper, there’s a labrum. It’s a ring of tissue that goes around the edge of the socket to deepen it. Sometimes, this ring of tissue gets torn and labral tears can hurt like a mother, or they may not hurt. A labral tear may cause a feeling of severe instability, but no pain. If contracting your biceps causes a lot of pain in the shoulder you might have a certain kind of labral tear called a SLAP lesion because part of the bicep attaches to the labrum. If you hear a lot of clicks, pops, or a catching sensation, you might have a labral tear. The most important thing at the shoulder when dealing with a labral tear is to have a strong rotator cuff. The most important thing at the hip is….uhhh….I don’t really know if anything is ‘most important’ at the hip when dealing with a labral tear.


Quabity Ashwoods

I’m going to start working soon and my job is going to be Quabity Ashwoods.  The first person who can tell me what that means and what it’s from gets a prize.


Transverse Friction Massage

I could never have long nails as a PT and one reason is that I gave a lot of transverse friction massages.  But I was sick and tired of not being able to have long nails so I had a stroke.  I can grow my nails long now.  A transverse friction massage is when you rub back and forth perpendicular to a tendon.  It’s always over a tendon.  Usually if you have tendonitis, you’ll get a transverse friction massage.  It breaks up scar tissue and increases circulation to the area promoting healing. I would do it for I think about 5 minutes. I don’t know, I forget. They hurt at first but then they feel good.



When I had a stroke and for the first year afterward, I was clueless. To all newbies: DON’T ORDER SPAGHETTI AT A RESTAURANT! You will embarrass yourself greatly. Order finger foods. Nothing that needs to be cut. Pasta is a bad bad choice, especially long noodles. Especially to someone with tremors. Especially on a date. Especially with someone you’re not extremely extremely comfortable with. Things like chicken fingers, fish that’s easy to cut with a fork with one hand, pizza, maybe sandwiches, maybe. Depends. Things that are already in bite size pieces. As an adult, asking someone else to cut up your food – oh my God that’s humiliating.




Thanks for a great weekend Barb and Tom!
Everything about post-stroke life is very monotonous.  Everything.  When I first had the stroke and for about a year and a half afterward my speech was incredibly monotone and I had an insanely flat affect.  I couldn’t express emotion.  I had emotions -and lots of them – but to the outside world it didn’t appear that way.  I think the only emotion the world could see was when I cried.  I cried all the time.  Now things are very very different.  I’m able to be very expressive.  My external voice matches my internal one.  For a long time, it did not.  During the first year or two after something like this, no matter where in the brain your injury was, I think something similar to this might be a problem not because of the area of the brain that was injured but because there was a major brain insult.  But I don’t know for sure.  I was not affected cognitively at all but it sure seemed like I was that first year because my brain as a whole was injured and recovering from being very swollen.  My brain just wasn’t right.  I mean my brain is still not right but the effects are much different now that I’m chronic.  But I wasn’t dumb or a different person, I was injured.


3 Years

Friday is my 3-year stroke anniversary so I’m getting the hell out of town.  Out of sight, out of mind.  I think though, that this will be the last anniversary/holiday/birthday that I’m gonna leave town.  I don’t think I’ll feel the need to leave anymore.  But this year I’m leaving!  I’ll be going to Boston, well close to Boston, and visiting Barb and also meeting Grace, who lives nearby.  I’m excited, this will be a good trip.

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Brain Damage

I remember once in rehab my PT was talking about another patient that she was treating that had an acoustic neuroma(brain tumor) and had a stroke during brain surgery.  Don’t have brain surgery people, you’re likely to have a stroke.  But if you need brain surgery, you need it, don’t listen to me.  Anyway, sometimes my therapists talked to me like I knew something and my PT said to me “I never treated her for the acoustic neuroma.”  Well, no you wouldn’t/couldn’t treat her for that, you would treat her for the brain damage and ensuing effects that the brain damage caused.  But I didn’t correct her because some people still don’t think I know anything and REALLY didn’t think I knew anything then.  Like I’ve said before, it doesn’t matter where in the brain you have damage.  It doesn’t matter if it’s the frontal lobe, parietal lobe, temporal lobe, occipital lobe, or cerebellum.  It doesn’t matter if it’s damage from a hemorrhage or a blood clot.  No kind of damage is worse than any other.  The EFFECTS are going to vary GREATLY but brain damage is brain damage.  A stroke is a stroke.