Monday, December 17, 2012

Stroke Recovery and Tips to avoid another Stroke

image credit: Google Images

We are pleased to feature this guest post by Alanna Ritchie

One in four Americans who has a stroke will have a second stroke, which may be more severe, and often deadly, as they may affect parts of the brain that have already been injured by the original stroke. Of the nearly 800,000 strokes that occur every year, around 185,000 of them happen to people who have had a stroke before. Strokes occur when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted, and part of the stroke recovery process requires taking whatever preemptive steps are possible to stop another stroke from happening.

Eight Tips to Prevent Strokes
Some stroke risk factors like age and medical history cannot be changed. Others risk factors are in your control, allowing you to take steps ahead of time to lessen the likelihood of recurrent strokes. These controllable risk factors include lifestyle changes. Unchecked, an unhealthy lifestyle can have physical consequences, such as high blood pressure (hypertension), high blood sugar (diabetes) and high blood fats (hyperlipidemia). Making lifestyle changes is a vital way you can protect against future strokes.

Change lifestyle habits to prevent strokes with these tips:
  1. Stop using tobacco products and avoid areas where others are smoking.
  2. Stay active for 30 minutes a day, even with low-impact exercise like housework, walking around the neighborhood or gardening.
  3. Spend time planning meals to make sure you consume at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day.
  4. Shy away from sugar and manage diabetes closely, if you've been diagnosed, as people with diabetes are four times more likely to have a stroke.
  5. Strictly monitor alcohol use, as studies show that over two drinks a day may lead to increasing the risk of stroke much as 50 percent.
  6. Snack on whole-grain crackers and fresh fruit instead of foods with high amounts of salt, fat or sugar.
  7. Schedule a yearly doctor's appointment to check blood pressure, blood sugar, blood fats and weight.
  8. Speak to your doctor if you've been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AF) -- an irregular heartbeat -- to see about taking medications to reduce stroke risk.
Medication to Prevent Strokes
Doctors may prescribe medications to treat and prevent strokes, depending on the overall health and pre-existing conditions of patients. Taking medication can be a precaution that stops health problems from becoming exacerbated to the point of causing strokes.

Types of medication to help prevent stokes include:
  • Antiplatelet agents, like aspirin
  • Medication that lowers blood fats
  • Medicine to control blood pressure, like calcium-channel blockers, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors
  • Medications to control blood sugar, for people who have diabetes
  • Blood thinners like warfarin and Pradaxa

Risks Associated with Pradaxa

Be sure you are aware of possible side effects before taking a new medication. Trials, studies and reports of adverse events together have shown that Pradaxa is associated with increased risk of heart attack and may lead to uncontrollable bleeding events that can be fatal.

In 2010, Health Canada approved Pradaxa (dabigatran), which offered patients an alternative to high-maintenance blood thinners like warfarin. Boehringer Ingelheim spent millions advertising Pradaxa as a convenient alternative to other drugs, but reportedly minimized its dangers.

In just one year, 2011, the FDA received reports of 817 adverse events involving Pradaxa. The same year, QuarterWatch, a publication for the nonprofit Institute of Safe Medication Practice, compiled reports from additional sources, gathering a total of almost 4,000 adverse events. Of this data, 542 cases were fatal.

Alanna Ritchie writes about dangerous prescription drugs and medical devices for

Saturday, December 1, 2012

"Everything You Are Is In Your BRAIN"...

"Everything You Are Is In Your BRAIN"

Would you like to find out more as well as have a deeper understanding of how stroke can effect our brains?

Watch this very interesting video to learn more...

Our brains are amazing parts of our bodies. In fact, brains can also learn and adapt. If you or someone you know or love has been affected by stroke, you need to learn about HOW to teach the brain.

Lets start with a well written book: "The Brain That Changes Itself"  (now available on Kindle)

Follow with another of my favorite books on the topic of stroke "Stronger After Stroke"

And now lets get to work: "Stroke Nation" (Stroke Nation can help through it's growing library of videos available to you, no matter where you live. The video library is available on their You Tube channel) Stroke Nation Video Library

In conclusion of this post I also want to introduce you to "StrokeLink" What is StrokeLink?

It is an application (App) available only for Apple products at this time to help: "StrokeLink empowers stroke survivors throughout their care journey by providing knowledge and self-care tools to bridge the gaps in care delivery. It provides a comprehensive toolkit of health reference material and a powerful tool for rehabilitation designed to guide and actively engage patients as they recover and regain independence."

If you can, check out StrokeLink and take it for a spin. I would LOVE to know what you think by leaving a comment . Thanks!

If the content on this post is helpful to you in any way, I would also LOVE to know. Please leave a brief comment to let me know. Thanks!!!

You can also sign up (top Right of this page) to be notified by email whenever we post to our blog.


Stroke survivor since 2002

p.s. Please visit our Facebook pages: "PEIStroke Recovery" and "My Life After Stroke"

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Let Me Tell You A Story About Stroke Recovery

Receiving  a 2012 Volunteer Recognition Certificate for outstanding volunteer service to the public library of Prince Edward Island and Montague Rotary Library.

Stroke Survivor Gary Gray receiving volunteer recognition award from Minister Allan F. Roache (R) and Mayor Richard Collins (L) photo by Swarna Chandrasekere

This noteworthy milestone in my stroke recovery life gives proof that stroke survivors can recover to a level that will allow them to give back to their community. In order for a stroke survivor to reach this level of recovery they must regain the confidence to work with groups made up of people who are not stroke survivors.

Of course stroke survivors can achieve this level of recovery. Let me tell you my story.

As a stroke survivor we would find it absolutely amazing to stand up to receive a certificate of volunteer recognition for working with a group who are not survivors. Who are in fact members of the community at large. Well there I am receiving just such a certificate from the Provincial Minister of innovation and advanced learning along with the Mayor of the community where I now reside.

How did this happen? After my stroke in 2002 I began the first of many trips to the local library to obtain books about stroke. As my trips grew more and more frequent I became well known to the Librarian.  Along about six years post stroke she invited me to take part in a writers group which had been formed as part of the libraries Winter activities.

This group had no stroke survivors and was made up of library members at large who had an interest in writing. I thought,  this might be an opportunity to help my brain recover in both logical and creative thinking, as well as provide much needed help for my writing skills. As I began to attend the writing group sessions, I found the people to be very supportive and willing to help.

After a few months of meeting and reviewing writing pieces by members of the group, we began to kick around the idea of publishing a book of our works. The excitement mounted, as the different parts  of the book came together. A  central theme, pieces of content, images, proof reading, formatting   the front and back covers, a PDF file, a library system identification number. wow, this was really happening.

Fast forward to our June session  and all 200 copies of our book "Prince Edward Island Tales", packed neatly in cardboard boxes sat in our midst. What an amazing feeling of accomplishment.

Over the following four years two more books appeared from the group. The creative spirit had taken root within our group. Some members went on to do other things and new members took their place. Some members worked on and completed their own book projects. The writing group continued and I remained a part of it. I was more than pleased with how the therapy of writing through this group was helping my stroke damaged brain to recover both the logical left and the creative right.

In the fall of our forth year I was asked to lead the group. By doing so I have kicked my brain therapy up another notch with skill recovery in the areas of organization, time management, team building and planning.

This brings us up to where we began our story. Now, with over 30 writers on our mailing list and the number of published books growing I was asked at our last session to stay on as leader through our upcoming year. As well, I was  surprised and amazed on Monday last with the presentation of my volunteer recognition certificate by the Library.

I relate this as an example of Project based stroke recovery. This is where we identify a project. In my case it was to recover my logical and creative thinking through joining a writers group.  Set a goal such as to improve my writing skills so that I can communicate in a better way within  the stroke community. Work at it every day. The result has been an amazing level of recovery and the opportunity to become part of the greater community once again while giving back to others. Even ones outside of the stroke recovery community.

I do have other projects that help in my recovery but those are stories for other blog posts.

I would like to express a special thanks to Dr. Nancy Mayo, a Montreal researcher and member of The Canadian Stroke Network for her work within the stroke community and especially with the notion of getting on with the rest of your life after stroke.

Dr. Mayo, our meeting in the fall of 2007 has improved my post stroke recovery and changed my life for the better. - THANK YOU!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Working To Be The Best That Your Body Will Allow You To Be!... The Garrett Mendez Story

Today I was reading Chapter 14 of the book "The Man With The Bionic Brain" by Dr. Jon Mukand. This is the chapter that talks about a young stroke survivor, Garrett Mendez. I met the Mendez family through an email from Garrett's mother Eileen a few years ago. Eileen had been following my posts about another young stroke survivor and his mother who lived near me. Eileen was requesting to be introduced to the mom as the two boys were both recovering from brain stem strokes.

Through emails from Eileen I got to follow Garrett's amazing recovery that Dr. Mukand describes in his book. Garrett has created an awareness and support web page and has posted amazing videos on You Tube to help us better understand his recovery.

Click the arrow in the middle of the image below to watch one You Tube video of Garrett and his mom Eileen being interviewed.

I really want to congratulate Garrett for his amazing determination and consistent efforts to be the very best that his body will allow him to be. I also want to commend Garrett's family and in particular his mother Eileen for the amazing support you have given Garrett and by extension the entire stroke community. 

stroke survivor since 2002

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Kathy Spencer's Story Of Recovery After Stroke

I was just reading chapter 11 of the book "The Man With The Bionic Brain" by Dr.Jon Mukand. He tells us of Kathy Spencer and her recovery from stroke. It was in this chapter of this book that I learned about Kathy and her You Tube video. She tells us how she has used the tools that were available to her while being faithful to her daily exercises. She had learned how to re-teach her brain and by setting a goal to play the piano again, she did what I call "project based stroke recovery".  She became along the way a stroke myth buster and an amazing advocate to persons and families affected by stroke.

Kathy says it much better than I ever could, so just click on the arrow in the middle of the image below to start the video.

If you liked Kathy's story and you would like to be notified when we put up a new post, you can sign up to receive an email just by entering your name and email address at the top of this blog. You will be asked to "confirm" by clicking on a link in an email that we send you.

Thanks for reading our post. We hope you are as encouraged by Kathy's story as we were.

You can also find us on our Facebook Page that was created for stroke survivors and their families, friends and caregivers as well as health care professionals.

CLICK HERE to visit "My Life After Stroke"


stroke survivor since 2002

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Good News About Stroke!!!

American Stroke Association's infographic

There is GOOD NEWS about stroke!

According to the American Stroke Association's recent "infographic", (new word) stroke has dropped to the number 4 leading cause of death in the United States. (and by logical extension, the world)

I wonder if that means that we are getting better at saving the lives of persons effected by stroke. OR, we are getting better at preventing strokes in the first place. OR, there has been a dramatic change in one or more of the 3 OTHER leading causes of death.

Just be aware that when one shoe falls we automatically in our minds eye, think "wait for it". Wait for what? The OTHER shoe to fall, of course.


According to the same infographic  stroke is the NUMBER ONE cause of long term disability in the United States. (and by logical extension, the world)

Just think about what that means to the 800,000 NEW people who are effected by stroke in the United States alone every year. (something like one a minute) Now, think about what that means to the 5,000.000 people who are living with disability after having survived a stroke in the United States alone.

Consider the cost to survivors, families, caregivers, health care professionals, communities, governments and tax payers to start with.

Isn't it time that we all learned more about stroke, how to prevent it, how to recover from it and how to be the best that our bodies will allow us to be after stroke.

Many people think that stroke is NOT preventable and that a productive "Life After Stroke" is impossible. Changing the way we think can FIX that. ANYTHING is possible when my ATTITUDE says, "I CAN"

Stroke survivor since 2002

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Know The Signs Of Stroke - CALL 911!

Contributed by Dr. Kathleen MacMillan:

"Dr. Kathleen MacMillan has contributed to clinical practice, education, administration and policy and research and has held policy positions in both the federal and provincial government. Her experience includes serving as the first provincial chief nursing officer in Canada (Ontario) from 1999 to 2001, where she provided nursing leadership, support and policy advice as a member of the senior executive team of the health ministry. Her role involved leading the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the province’s Nursing Strategy and Nursing Task Force recommendations to address critical nursing human resource issues. She led the passage of legislation for nurse practitioners and championed degree entry to practice for Ontario nurses. Most recently, Dr. MacMillan was executive director of the Office of Nursing Services, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, Health Canada, where she led strategies to strengthen nursing services to aboriginal communities."

Thank you Dr. MacMillan

July 16, 2012
"The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) has released Pathways of Care for People with Stroke in Ontario, a report based upon an analysis of 62,000 stroke cases.  It found improved care is reducing stroke deaths but that much more improvement is needed."

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A How To Recover My Life After A Stroke Tool

Happiness is being back in a kayak after my stroke

I am excited to share a little more about my upcoming e-book "My Life After Stroke"

By using the M-I-A method, I am turning my book into an effective tool to help stroke survivors (or persons effected by stroke) regain an independent life with joy and happiness, rather than one of anger, anxiety, frustration and depression.

What is the MIA method?  M = motivation, I = Information and A = action steps

Some of the strongest motivating emotions for someone who has experienced stroke are.

1. The ANXIETY of having another stroke.

2. To have the FREEDOM of living independently.

3. To feel the JOY of being loved and having control over emotions.

4. The GLEE of having arm and leg movement again.

5. The HAPPINESS of doing simple tasks every day.

The positive emotions can motivate to recover if they are stronger than the negative emotions that manifest themselves in destructive ways.

Information of course is the key to unlock the door to recovery after stroke. Here are just some of the information points that are shared in my book.

1. How to relax and bring a feeling of calmness to mind that extends throughout your entire body whenever you want..

2. How to regain the ability to live independently and to become your own caregiver.

3. How to manage emotional feelings of frustration and anger.and how to love and be loved by family and friends.

4. How to kick start your brain into turning paralysis into movement within your body again.

5.How to set goals and take steps to do simple every day things like being able to open a can or zip up a zipper.

The real means to success is the "A" in M-I-A. Action steps! Clear simple numbered steps in each chapter to get you actually doing what it takes to get your body and mind back. To begin doing more and more on your own and making a meaningful contribution to your self, family, friends and community again.

I am excited about getting to write such a book. I hope you are getting just as excited and looking forward to making full use of it in your life after stroke.

I am also excited to hear your thoughts and comments. I hope you will share...

Stroke survivor since 2002

Thursday, July 12, 2012

5 Tips for Stroke Prevention

Today we feature a guest post by Philip J. Reed titled "5 Tips for Stroke Prevention". We extend Philip a very warm welcome and we hope you find his post motivating, informative and actionable. - Gary

--Philip J Reed, on behalf of The George Washington University Hospital Cardiovascular Center 

When a stroke occurs, brain cells can begin dying within seconds. Even prompt symptom recognition and quick access to stroke services may not be enough to prevent long-term damage.The best way to maintain full function is to reduce your risk factors, and we will discuss five ways to do that below.

1. Know your numbers. Your blood pressure and cholesterol can both be major risk factors. High blood pressure, which often has few or no symptoms, is one of the leading causes of stroke. It creates stress in blood vessel walls, and left untreated, can lead to blood vessel deterioration, blood clots, brain hemorrhage and stroke. High cholesterol can be just as damaging as it builds up on the walls of the arteries, blocking and damaging them. Positive lifestyle changes, such as exercise and weight loss, may be able to help you gain control over your blood pressure and cholesterol. Your doctor can help you explore other avenues for reducing your numbers if lifestyle changes are ineffective or do not reduce your numbers enough.

2. Make healthy choices. Excessive alcohol consumption and tobacco use both pose stroke risks and can increase your blood pressure. Smoking, which doubles your stroke risk, forces your heart to work harder to pump blood throughout your body and can promote plaque build-up in your arteries. Quitting smoking and drinking alcohol in moderation may be able to help reduce your stroke risk.

3. Maintain a healthy body weight. Overweight and obesity create extra work for your circulatory system and are linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes. Losing weight can be difficult, but making healthier food choices that include lean protein, fresh vegetables and fruits, and whole grains can make you feel better physically and mentally and help you lose weight. If you are unsure about how or where you should start, talk to your health care professional or a nutritionist to learn more.

4. Control your diabetes. If you have diabetes, your stroke risk may be four times higher than it is for those who do not have diabetes. Many people with diabetes also tend to have co-morbid health conditions, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, further increasing their risk. If you have diabetes, managing your blood glucose levels, staying active, eating a healthy diet and seeing your health care professional regularly can all help reduce your risk of stroke. Here are some additional great tips for managing diabetes.

5. Stay active. A sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, weight gain and other health conditions associated with stroke. Health care professionals recommend exercising at least 30 minutes a day five days a week. Even beginners can enjoy a brisk walk or low impact water aerobics class. Talk to your doctor to ensure you are taking any necessary precautions before starting an exercise regimen.

The National Stroke Association estimates that as many as four out of five strokes can be prevented. Controlling risk factors where you can may help reduce your odds of needing stroke services and help you live a healthier life overall.

Philip J Reed is a health and fitness enthusiast who understands the value of knowledge and prevention.  If you have any questions or would like additional information, please leave a comment here, or contact us through the link in the byline.

Monday, July 9, 2012

"My Life After Stroke" e-book to be released soon

After a stroke you realize that you have survived but your very being is broken and your emotional life is in tatters. These are just some of the emotional needs that come swirling out of the mists rising from the black abyss of stroke.... Will they ever be met?

1. the peacefulness of being safe and secure
2. the calmness of being without anxiety
3. the glee to be able to use an arm and leg again
4. the joy of being loved
5. the happiness of being understood
6. the clarity of thinking and remembering
7. the warmth of talking and communicating
8. the freedom of independence
9  the satisfaction of work
10.the happy ability of being able to read
11.the independance of being able to drive.

After that comes the wants and the nagging worries about the days, weeks ahead. You just can't even begin to think in terms of months and years... "What will I ever be able to do?" you ask yourself.

Just some of the wants:

To move, to walkto talk, to readto write to hugto hold to drive to go to the storeto eat outto work

And some of the worries:

I will have another strokeI will be in a wheelchair,I will be a mental veggie, I can't go out any more, I can't communicateI will be in a rest home No one understands,I will always need careI will loose my familyI will loose all my friends.

So where do the answers come from? They come from someone who has been exactly where you are now. They come in the form of a new e-book that I, a ten year stroke survivor who has recovered much of his life is currently writing. My plan is to have it ready for release on August 10, 2012 exactly ten years after I personally had a major stroke leaving me with these very same emotional needs, wants and worries.

Recovery is possible after stroke and and I will share in my writings, my journey and how I have regained a quality of life that includes independent living, satisfying volunteer work. Joy, peace and friendly association in my life.

Enter your email on this page to be notified when my book is released.

Gary Gray
Stroke survivor since 2002