SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

Writing, Illustrating & Publishing => Research => Topic started by: hairaplenty on March 10, 2013, 10:49 AM

Title: Strokes
Post by: hairaplenty on March 10, 2013, 10:49 AM
I need some info regarding strokes.  Like how soon can a doctor predict how the stroke might affect the patient? 
How soon could a family member visit after a stroke?  Does the patient go in to a recovery room after surgery?  Or, what are the steps after a stroke?
Any sites or info would be helpful.
Title: Re: Strokes
Post by: Betsy on March 10, 2013, 11:19 AM
I'm not sure what surgery you're referring to. In the case of a major stroke, there may be surgery to remove a blood clot. Because blood clots can be different sizes or occur in different parts of the brain--the effects of stroke can differ between individuals, and the prognosis can differ too.

Judging by my father's situation, the effects of the stroke are often apparent immediately--inability to speak and/or paralysis. If you rush the paitent to the emergency room there are medications that can be given to prevent brain damage, but they have to be given within two to four hours. So the question is really, will the symptoms go away. Patients also get physical therapy. You often don't know just how much residual damage there is until months or even years after the event.

Jilly Bolte Taylor describes her stroke in some detail in her book MY STROKE OF INSIGHT.  Also go here:
Title: Re: Strokes
Post by: hairaplenty on March 10, 2013, 11:41 AM
Remarkable!  Thanks so much for this info.
Title: Re: Strokes
Post by: Joni on March 10, 2013, 02:20 PM
A couple of other tidbits, fwiw: stroke can manifest as/be misdiagnosed as a severe migraine. I have a sister-in-law who didn't get the proper treatment until about 12 hours later, and they still drugged her up a LOT when they finalized realized the real issue and hospitalized her, instead of sending her home like they did the first time. By then she'd had convulsions and many other symptoms. A gazillion tests of all sorts were key features of her early treatment.

Years later now, she still has a variety of drug cocktails they mess with on a regular basis to try to make her more functional while also managing side effects. She hasn't done much that she was supposed to do for recovery, and blatantly disregarded a lot of advice, and she's gotten back a fair amount of physical ability, though not all, regardless. What hasn't come back to any significant degree is speech.

I bet you could find a fair amount online about Gabby Gifford's recovery by Googling, and I know there are multiple first-person books about stroke, including at least one by a doctor... sorry, I don't remember the title of it.
Title: Re: Strokes
Post by: Betsy on March 10, 2013, 02:32 PM
Interesting, Joni.

But I'm not sure that Gabby Giffords is a model for a stroke. Damage from a bullet is different.

The actor Kirk Douglas had a stroke. You might be able to find out something about his experience and treatment online.
Title: Re: Strokes
Post by: Joni on March 10, 2013, 05:17 PM
But I'm not sure that Gabby Giffords is a model for a stroke. Damage from a bullet is different.

Duh. Dunno what I was thinking.
Title: Re: Strokes
Post by: MysteryRobin on March 10, 2013, 05:37 PM
My grandmother died of a stroke. There was no keeping family members out (and no surgery). She had it at home, or her daughter's home, really. They rushed her to the hospital, so were with her the whole time. They kept her overnight and determined nothing could be done but to keep her comfortable (administer morphine). So they sent her home to my aunt's house for at home hospice care. My mom and her sisters had a hospital bed set up for her and they had to give her morphine on a regular basis. A nurse came and checked in once or twice and encouraged them to give her more. They couldn't keep her at the hospital because she wasn't going to get better, so the hospital was not allowed to keep her. After a couple of days she died under their care, and then the mortuary came for her body.
Title: Re: Strokes
Post by: Bobi Martin on March 10, 2013, 08:48 PM
A lot of what happens depends on how severe the stroke was. My great-grandmother had a couple of "mini-strokes" which didn't affect her speech or movement but did affect her thinking and memory. Months later she had a bigger stroke--which the nursing home she was in totally missed! I discovered it when I went to visit her and she was slumped in her chair unable to pick up her spoon to feed herself, and she couldn't talk. She could just blink her eyes.

My suggestion would be to write your scene or chapter as you think it might happen, and then see if a local doctor or nurse (at your city hospital, perhaps) would be willing to vet it for you. Or, just call and say you're writing a book and have some questions on strokes.
Title: Re: Strokes
Post by: Betsy on March 10, 2013, 10:55 PM
Joni, I almost made the same mistake. I was going to mention Gabby Giffords too--and then suddenly remembered that she didn't have a stroke.

Title: Re: Strokes
Post by: Liz Straw on March 11, 2013, 04:28 PM
My  neighbor, at the age of 79 had two strokes.  The first one he did not even notice except that he had trouble seeing the next day and was very tired.  A few days later he had his second stroke, it has left him with little vision in one eye and he becomes tired quicker.  Over the last few months he has regained some of the vision in his eye, but he will never fully regain it.  He is learning to live with the loss of vision in one eye.  (I have live with this all my life as I have a lazy eye, I have been able to give him some tips that I have learned over the years)

My grandmother suffered with TIA - Transient Ischemic Attacks, which are sometimes called mini strokes, but are not really strokes, you will have to look them up.  It is when a blood vessel burst in the brain and eventually leads to dementia, and some other problems depending on how many of these occur.

I have known some stroke victims that were fairly young, 30s-40s, and the extent of the stroke was extensive, they did walk again, with a strong limp, never regain full use of one side and never regain full speech back.

My mom's cousin's wife, in her 80's recently had a stroke, and the doctors were telling her to slow down.  She had some minor problems to one side of her body, but with therapy, they were gradually going away.  There were speech problems, but very minor.

I think the results of the stroke are generally determined fairly rapidly now, and physically therapy is started as soon as possible. 

There is a television sports caster in my parents home town (one of those in their 30's) that had a stroke, and he was off work for a year.  He returned to work and you can tell from his speech pattern that something definitely happened.  He does not move his hands like he used to and you no longer see him walk on television. I gather his was a very bad stroke. 

A neurologist will have the best information, but also be one of the hardest doctors to contact. Getting an appointment with one for the first time can be a challenge. :)