Thursday, May 28, 2009

I know from the emails that I have received that many of you have gone through the agonizing trial of watching a relative or friend recover from a stroke...many accounts have been very encouraging.

Others have been searching the internet and sending me information, but most of you just want some answers and do I.

I'm not a professional reporter like Chris so I hope that you can appreciate that I am trying to relay information from visiting and observing Chris and from talking to his siblings who are at his bedside throughout various times of the day.

I'm writing this for Chris to read when he gets out and to let his friends, co-workers, and relatives get an idea of what happened, and what is going on.
That being said I know that I cannot be completely objective because we have been BfFF....three decades...
and this recovery period may extend into weeks and months.

As to why his rehab is delayed...

Chris still has very high blood pressure, his systolic numbers are frequently in the 190 range. Now I've heard that being hypertensive may be his body's natural way of maintaining circulation after enduring a vascular emergency...
but it is also stalling his recovery by impeding his physical rehabilitation.

His hypertension also makes it risky to sedate him enough to do another MRI.

*Any readers who have medical backgrounds and experience with stroke patients or others who have had to cope with a relative having a stroke, please feel free to clarify and expand. The more information the better and it helps to talk/write.

From what I understand there are plenty of drugs that can lower his blood pressure but it is dangerous to lower it too quickly.

I know that everyone is anxious to see him out of bed. Today one of his sisters said that Chris was assessed by the physiotherapist but there was concern about his blood pressure and that the loss of muscular control on his right side was prohibiting him from being moved into a Geri-Chair?
This was echoed by another sister who told me that once he is up, he is going to need an upright wheel chair (tilt & spin) to do his physio and apparently there is a waiting list for them!?

I wish that I knew when/why/how the Neurologist decides OK today let's try to carefully lower his BP...and how long can a bedridden person cope with hypertension? I don't know.

I try to remind myself that we're dealing with the human brain, the pinnacle of evolutionary engineering and in many ways as mysterious as the universe itself. This miraculous 3 pound gelatin super-computer lodged between our ears has some 100 trillion synaptic connections!
Apparently the brain cannot repair itself on a cellular level like a lot of our other organs in our has to work with what it has...
but with so many avenues and connectors, it can and very often will, find a way to re-route signals.

So Chris, it's time to
Synap out of it!

Chris had clotting in his brain stem. That part of the brain is involved in the control of his cardiovascular & respiratory system, pain sensitivity, alertness, and consciousness!
Managing the alterations while maintaining the basics is a lot for him to handle..he can't just turn it off and reboot the program like a regular computer..
although ideally that's what we all desperately want to witness!

This waiting is compounded by our collective feeling of being of restricted by the complexity of the human mind and spirit...
but when I look at the tenacity and will power that Chris has always had,
I just know, of all the people that I have EVER met during my entire life,

Chris IS that guy.


Cazzie!!! said...

I can help out with most questions you have Donn, email me if you want to mate. I am working on Neurology tonight, night shift. I can ask any questions and get answers from the professionals there :)
Thanks for the updates, It seems the place your friend is in are doing all the right things at the right time.
Monitoring blood pressure is just one of the many neurological observations we attend to as nurses. We also monitor Pupil size and reaction to light (hence the torch shine in the eye) and also limb stengths/weaknesses..everything weights up to formulate the next plan of care. Hence why I keep on saying, one day at a time, baby steps all the way.
Our bodies are such amazing things, we respond to treatments differently and sometimes, only time can tell what will happen next.
Positive thoughts..and lots of heling huggs, Cazzie!!!

gautami tripathy said...

With your and his family's positive thoughts he will come through it all and hopefully someday soon you would both be joking about it.

The human brain is very tenacious and with strong will power it can endure almost anything.

Initially it might seem like baby steps but with time, it can only go up.

I am no professional but I have gone through all this for someone I love very much.

Nothing can beat positive thinking!

moreidlethoughts said...

Cazzie might have more clinical answers(in layman's terms) than I could give, but you are on the right track, Donn.
When anyone has to deal with stroke(friend or blood relative) the really difficult part is stepping back, divorcing ourselves from the "ohmygod!NO!" element.
The human body(brain) can do much more in the recovery than we often give it credit for.
All these comments(and,
I guess, emails) are playing a secondary part here. They are helping YOU and, in that positive role, can help you to relay this to Chris.

I'm not a religious woman, but I suppose, if I were, I'd say "God bless you, Donn."

Sienna said...

Donn, we have in Melbourne, Australia at the moment a (believe it or not) Canadian psychiatrist Norman Doidge...talking about brain (neuro) plasticity.

Norman has written a book:

The Brain that Changes Itself..

His site:

I have heard a small part of his talks, and fielding questions, I want to know more too. We have a family member that received serious and extensive brain injuries, so severe, so critical they ask us to consider removing life support. She suffered a lot of damage via bleeding into the brain as well as a long time with dangerously high intracranial neuro surgeon gave us hope, he had been the guy that saved her life, all the others thought she was irretreviable, then were telling us to consider discontinuing life support...she pulled through, it's taken years of rehab, but at 31 yo she now is back at work, drives a car, is self sufficient, we have our girl back, she faces different challenges in her life-yes, but it is the essence and soul and her personality still.

I wish we had had access to Doidge's work then, what I see and hear of him rings true.

They told us she would never walk again, be in a wheelchair...she put in the yards and walks like you hardly almost notice anything wrong.

She had total paralysis down her right side, it is as strong and almost as totally functional as the other side. She went through what you are describing about Chris, tugging the tubing etc, confusion, we all never left her side either, support and keeping an eye on her...

There is hope mate, Chris has so much love, support and hope...she was 20 days ICU (intensive care, elevated brain pressure) it did come down, it took a while but did drop..

We are all praying and keeping him in our thoughts, close to our hearts as we did with our girl...

If you get time, check out Doidge's work...I think it will inspire you. He has quite a few stories of recovery as well.

You take care too, it's so taxing on family and friends, u guys all take care as much as possible. He will need you down the road too..

Go Chris!!!

Love from Oz.

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

You sound tired and I am sure you are frustrated with how long this feels, but I imagine you being there beside him has helped in so many ways that you are not even aware. You two have this lovely way about you and it will bring him through. I am sure his family is also another great part that helps Chris heal and in time, he will and know, although he may already know, how lucky he is, how lucky you both are. It is a wonderful thing.

My love and prayers are with you, Chris, and his family.

Soft love,

Ghost Particle said...

ill remember this forever. you are the best soul out there Donn.

love and hugs to Chris.

get well soon big guy.

there is a huge big world waiting for you here, and there is Donn.

angel said...

Donn, Chris is indeed that guy, and I for one just know we'll be subjected to more of his wry wit in the future.
~~BUG HUGS~~ Chris!!

Lynne (aka Gel) said...

Even your clever pun is full of energy and determination. Yes, your friend Chris IS that guy.

w/ caring and optimism