10 Years?

Holy cow; it has been 10 years since I had my stroke.

Thinking back, my future looked bright:

I was finally earning good money, starting to save for college, saving for retirement, putting savings into my HSA. Things were starting to click. Then BAM…the stroke hit me.  My goals…gone. My life…changed. My future…unknown. I really didn’t think of the effect the stroke would have.

In the beginning, I lost my ability to use my right side.  My wife was able to stay home with me and work on my recovery.  My thinking was that I would be working is 6 months.  How wrong I was!

With help from my wife, we worked through a few different options.

First, I wanted to get back into my business of consulting telemarketing reps.  This was tough for me because I couldn’t talk.  We both realized this in a few months.  I still can’t believe Jill stayed with me though the terrible six months when I was feeling that I could talk; I couldn’t get out more than a sentence.  Not good for a sales consultant!

Then I decided to work with Scott Olsen. Scott was a trainer and we both had similar clients.  I would help him build his pipeline and offering the telesales training as a supplement to his training.  We got off to a great start.  Soon, I realized, that they were actually buying Jill…not me.  I still couldn’t talk!

In the meantime, Jill prepared a speech for me that I wanted to deliver to my friends who got me thought these tough years.  After 6 months of writing (for Jill) …and another 8 months of daily practice (for me), I was able to deliver my speech…1 time…to my audience.

You know how that turned out; you can look at my video clops over the past few years to look at the progress I have made:   https://mybrainllc.com/check-out-this-5-minute-video-clip/

Not being able to talk was my biggest challenge.  Even now, after feeling confident that I had a great conversation,  I cringe with how terrible I sound when I play back the recording.  How could I sound so great…in my head…and turn into sounding so bad.

It is what it is. Thank god for my disability income. I don’t know where I be without the little steam of money coming in each month.

There is ONE thing that DOES bother me:  the loss of my car and the ability to drive:

Image result for 2005 bmw 323i

That BMW was a fantastic car.

Now…I understand the problems I had!

New treatment offers hope for better stroke recovery. Spatial neglect often occurs after damage to the right side of the brain, making it difficult for stroke survivors to see things on their left.

Eating food from only the right side of the plate, shaving or applying make-up to only one side of the face, and running into objects on the left are common traits post stroke and for some survivors current therapies aren’t working.

University of Queensland researchers are leading a world-first project that might help overcome disability that can affect many everyday activities for stroke survivors.

UQ School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences researcher Associate Professor Timothy Carroll said the research would investigate a new therapy in which robots would guide the hand to retrain the stroke survivor’s brain.

“The neuropsychological condition – called spatial neglect – often occurs after damage to the right hemisphere of the brain, making it difficult for stroke survivors to pay attention to the left side of space,” Associate Professor Carroll said.

“Up to 85 per cent of right hemisphere stroke survivors have reduced ability to attend to the left side of space, which can affect many activities.

“A person might fail to eat the food on the left half of their plate, and they might only shave or apply make-up to the left side of their face.

“They may collide with objects or structures such as door frames on their left.

“At present there is no satisfactory treatment for people with spatial neglect.”

One current treatment involves reaching towards visual targets while wearing spectacles containing prisms that shift the entire field of view towards the right.

To reach accurately while wearing the prism spectacles, people with spatial neglect must learn to reach targets on their neglected side.

Dr Carroll said the treatment’s effectiveness varied dramatically for different patients; ranging from long-lasting functional improvement after a single session to no benefit at all.

“We are testing a new approach, in which we use a robot to physically push the person’s hand to one side while they are reaching, instead of using prisms to distort vision,” he said.

“We hope to show that learning to move straight when the robot pushes the hand to one side will help people with neglect to better orient attention to the left side of space.

“This will help us to better understand the links between attention and movement after stroke, and may lead to new rehabilitation approaches for stroke survivors with attention deficits in the future.”

Stroke Foundation figures show that more than 475,000 Australians were living with the effects of stroke in 2017, with this number predicted to rise to one million by 2050.

The UQ researchers are looking for stroke survivors with damage to the right hemisphere to participate in a single two-hour testing session at UQ’s St Lucia campus in Brisbane.

Volunteers must be able to sit in a stable position for an hour, have no significant vision impairments (normal spectacles are fine), and be able to effectively reach to objects with their right arm.

Those interested in participating should email Dr Carroll on timothy.carroll@uq.edu.au, or call UQ’s School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences on +61 7 3365 6240.

Media: Associate Professor Timothy Carroll, timothy.carroll@uq.edu.au, 0431 530 339, Kirsten O’Leary, UQ Communications, k.oleary@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3365 7436.

20-Something Stroke Survivor On Recovery


Nina Mitchell was 26 years old when she suffered a massive stroke that robbed her of her speech and mobility. After surgery, months in the hospital and a grueling, yearslong regimen of physical and speech therapy, Mitchell — now 41 — is a successful writer, blogger, wife and mother.

Mitchell (@mindpop) joins Here & Now‘s Robin Young to tell her story.

Interview Highlights

On having a stroke at 26 years old

“There are various kinds of stroke. There’s the older people stroke, which tends to err on people who have high blood pressure and various other things. But then there’s another kind, and that tends to skew younger. It’s called hemorrhagic stroke. People with the more common kind of stroke have a clot in their brain. People with my kind of stroke have a bleed in the brain. So it’s just blood that leaks out into the gray matter itself.”

On having a smaller stroke prior to the massive one

“I had one that was about golf ball-size, which is not tiny, but that was being monitored. And then at this friend’s wedding, I just felt very strange. So I went home and then I called my parents, which was probably a good sign that something was very odd. My parents lived in Los Angeles, and they suggested that I go to a friend’s house for the night, given my history. And all my friends were at this wedding. So the only person who was home was my ex-boyfriend. And the next morning, I was just not making sense.”

“Your mind is so important to you, and it disappeared in my case for a while. And when it came back, it wasn’t the same as it had been.”

Nina Mitchell

On symptoms she noticed prior to the stroke

“I had had problems typing, and I went to see a hand doctor, and she looked at me and said, ‘Oh, you don’t have carpal tunnel. But I’ll refer you to a neurologist, maybe you had a nerve injury.’ A few days later I went to see the neurologist, and he looked at me and said, ‘Go get an MRI immediately,’ because he noticed all kinds of things that I had just not picked up on. He noticed that it was hard for me to balance on my right leg, on my heels. Things like that where, I hadn’t noticed that. I had asked the neurologist, ‘What are we talking about,’ and he said, ‘Well, [multiple sclerosis], a brain tumor or a stroke, and stroke is the best possible option.'”

On talking with her son about how the stroke affected her

“I don’t really talk to him directly about it. But there’s plenty of things that he picks up on, just as a little kid. And I’m sure at times in the future, he’s going to notice. Right now there are little things like, you know, mom has trouble opening those really annoying pouches, like the baby pouches. Daddy does it better and faster if you’re hungry.”

On the phrase “mindpop,” also the name of her blog

“Your mind is so important to you, and it disappeared in my case for a while. And when it came back, it wasn’t the same as it had been. I just think of that as a good catchall for all the things that have changed.”

On experiencing grief over having a stroke at a young age

“Especially early on, when my lot of my friends were on the make: they were off to grad school and starting companies and writing books. That was very hard to watch that happen, because I had to stop and do rehab for years, while my other friends were, you know, discovering planets. But I think I sort of see my life as having ups and downs. I’m definitely in an up period. I have a lovely son, I have a lovely husband, I work. So it’s all very exciting.”

I’m Back! Wait,I fell terrible. I’ll be back the next day.

(This is how I want to be viewed.) But as I began my routine on January 2, I didn’t feel quite right.  So, I decided to go back to bed for 30 minutes.  I woke up at 11:30am and I just couldn’t concentrate on ANYTHING. I went to my computer and I just stared at the emails.  Nothing seemed to connect. Have you had that happen to you?

I looked at Jill and she seemed even worse. Jill said that we should take a sick day.. and I agreed.  We both slept the rest of the day and through to next day…but I did wake up for meals. For example, at lunch, I flank steak and Cranberry juice. She just had a glass of water.

The next day, I figured I was going to be better and I would get started. On January 3, I felt even worse. I couldn’t keep my eyes open and I just wanted to sleep.  Jill, felt a bit better. again, I awoke just for meals.

What about January 4th? I work up, and I felt ok.   I was finally able to get back to my emails and get started on a few things I had on my plate.  Now, at 6:45pm Thursday night, I will start writing my blog…3 days late!

Just for laughs, here’s what my iPhone tracked leading up to the event.  I  started to fell sick late Monday afternoon:

For stroke patients, rating scales predict discharge destination

Note:  I will take off the remainder of the year and begin again in January.  Happy Holidays!!!


Stroke survivors with higher scores on widely used outcome measures are more likely to be discharged home from the hospital, while those with lower scores are more likely to go to a rehabilitation or nursing care facility, reports a paper in the January issue of The Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy (JNPT). The journal is published by Wolters Kluwer.

Standardized rating scales can help to support decisions about discharge destination for stroke patients leaving the hospital, according to the analysis by Dr. Emily Thorpe, PT, DPT, and colleagues of Walsh University, North Canton, Ohio, under the mentorship of Dr. Robert S. Phillips, PT, DPT, PhD, NCS. “These results provide a framework with which to start the plan of care and discharge process in acute and sub-acute settings,” the researchers write.

Outcome Measure Scores to Predict Stroke Discharge – Pooled Evidence Analysis

In a systematic research review, Dr. Thorpe and colleagues identified nine previous studies of the relationship between standardized outcome measures and discharge destination in patients with stroke. Five studies–including more than 6,000 patients–provided evidence suitable for analysis of pooled data, called meta-analysis.

Meta-analyses assessed the predictive value of two outcome measures. Four studies evaluated the Functional Independence Measure (FIM), which assesses the level of assistance needed to perform daily tasks. The FIM is commonly used in hospitalized patients with a wide range of conditions. Two studies used the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS), which is specifically designed to assess stroke severity and resulting disability. (One of the studies included both measures.)

Both rating scales were good indicators of the discharge destination for stroke patients, according to the meta-analyses. For each one-point improvement in the FIM score (on a scale from 18 to 126), patients were about eight percent more likely to be sent home from the hospital, rather than to a rehabilitation or nursing facility.

On both the FIM and NIHSS, patients who scored in the “above average” range were 12 times more likely to be discharged to home. In contrast, patients with “average” scores were 1.9 times more likely to be discharged to a care facility.

Patients with “poor” scores on the FIM and NIHSS were 3.4 times more likely to be discharged to an institution. For this group, the discharge destination was more likely to be a skilled nursing facility, rather than to an inpatient rehabilitation center.

Interdisciplinary rehabilitation services are crucial to help stroke patients toward regaining their functional ability and lifestyle. With the aging population and increased spending for stroke management, it’s more important than ever to provide efficient care for patients recovering from a stroke. About 20 percent of stroke survivors require institutionalized care beyond three months; many patients need continued assistance after they return home.

Outcome measures such as the FIM and NIHSS are widely used to assess the functional abilities or clinical condition of stroke patients. However, it has been unclear how scores on these rating scales are related to discharge destination.

The new analysis provides evidence-based data to support critical decision-making about discharge destination in stroke patients. “Findings from these meta-analyses are consistent with common sense practice: the better a patient’s outcome measure score, the greater the likelihood of home discharge,” Dr. Thorpe and coauthors write. The results show the “quantitative impact” of outcome measure scores on discharge decisions.

The researchers emphasize that rating scales such as the FIM and NIHSS are just one factor to consider in determining the best discharge destination for each individual patient after a stroke. Dr. Thorpe and colleagues conclude: “Ultimately, standardized outcome measures should be further used and studied among the post-stroke population to improve healthcare policy and compliment clinical judgment in the task of recommending discharge destinations for patients to receive the necessary care for achieving their optimal function.”


Click here to read “Outcome Measure Scores Predict Discharge Destination in Patients With Acute and Subacute Stroke: A Systematic Review and Series of Meta-analyses.”

I received this touching note. Are you turning 60? Read This!

I just amazing received this beautiful note.  Maybe I am thinking the right things?


I just read your post.  Sounds like you are asking the same questions many, many people ask when they turn 60.  There are no magic answers.


Have you ever thought that one gift your stroke gave you is time? Time to do your blog, time to be a grandfather, time to be a caring father,  time to volunteer, time to have quality time with your wife, time to exercise,  time to do presentations, time to pray, time to help Jill around the house, time to have fun, travel, etc.


Perhaps you need to think of yourself as retired……not unemployed.  Is this the life you planned and worked so hard for all those years.  No, but does real happiness come from our jobs or from  our personal relationships.  Only you can find your answer to that question.


Perhaps God has some plans for that time………another door to open…….other paths to follow.   If you ask, he will help you open the door.


The journey is the secret……..not the destination.

From someone still asking the same questions……..

Good News – Bad News

Posted by Steven Reinberg, HealthDay Reporter

While progress is being made in reducing the number of stroke deaths, it seems that more people who experience these brain attacks have significant stroke risk factors, a new study reveals.

The rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, abnormal cholesterol, smoking and drug abuse have all been on the rise in stroke patients over recent years, the study authors said.

The study included over 900,000 people hospitalized for stroke between 2004 and 2014. Each year, prevalence of high blood pressure went up by 1 percent, diabetes rose by 2 percent, high cholesterol went up by 7 percent, smoking increased by 5 percent, and drug abuse jumped 7 percent, the researchers found.

“The risk of dying from a stroke has declined significantly, while at the same time the risk factors are increasing,” said researcher Dr. Ralph Sacco. He’s a professor of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

“We are not exactly sure why these increases are occurring,” Sacco said.

It’s possible that doctors are getting better at diagnosing risk factors. Or certain lifestyle factors may play a role, Sacco suggested. These include obesity, lack of exercise, poor diet and smoking.

The increase of drug abuse among younger patients is especially concerning, he added.

Although the increases in risk factors were seen in all racial and ethnic groups, increases in high blood pressure among blacks and diabetes among Hispanics stood out, Sacco noted.

He stressed that patients need to know their blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. “There are great medications that can be used to treat those conditions,” Sacco said.

“We need to go further in controlling risk factors, like diet and exercise,” he advised.
According to Dr. Salman Azhar, director of stroke at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, “The challenge now is to prevent strokes, and if they have had a stroke, trying to prevent a second stroke. This is where the importance of these risk factors comes in.”

The responsibility to reduce risk factors lies with patients, but also with the community, he continued.

“It’s up to communities to provide access to better food and places to exercise. We have a responsibility as a community and a health system,” Azhar said.

The 922,000 people included in the study had been hospitalized for an ischemic stroke, which is caused by a blocked blood vessel in the brain. These are the most common types of stroke.

The number of stroke patients who had one or more risk factors increased from 88 percent in 2004 to 95 percent in 2014, the findings showed.

For hospitalized stroke patients during the 10-year study period, high cholesterol rates more than doubled, from 29 percent to 59 percent, and the rate of diabetes went from 31 percent to 38 percent.

In addition, high blood pressure rates increased from 73 percent to 84 percent, and the prevalence of drug abuse doubled from 1.4 percent to 2.8 percent. Also, kidney failure increased each year by 13 percent, and plaque buildup in the carotid (neck) arteries rose by 6 percent each year, the investigators found.

Dr. David Katz is director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Derby, Conn. He said the improvement in stroke survival “suggests we are relying on advances in treatment while neglecting prevention.”

Katz, who is also president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, said, “Treating disease is never as good as preserving health and vitality. This study is a precautionary tale of the questionable and costly choices we seem to be making as a culture.”

The report was published online Oct. 11 in the journal Neurology.

Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

How Did I Do at University of Portland?





First thing: I spoke THREE times in one day; I have never done that before!  This was another milestone for me.

I love the University of Portland because I can deliver the same speech, varies ways, to test certain things out.  But THIS time, I delivered the SAME speech, the same way, to all three groups to see if there was any variation in the way certain people view my presentation.

You would think if I didn’t do anything different, all threes groups would behave the same way.   WRONG!  Each of the three groups behaved differently!

To me, I was blown away. How could three groups be so different?I gauge the groups by the laugh I get at the beginning.  If they don’t laugh, I know it will be a tough group.

All three group responded the same way to my questions before I ask before the speech.  I thought if I started with these questions, I would urge them to listen.

I worked up to my first laugh:

I was a young, healthy, active, non-smoking, non-drinking- mostly non- drinking – normal cholesterol man,….. just like this guy! (point, Laugh)






There were no laughs!   I looked at Jill, thinking I didn’t say my line write.  Nope…I said it correctly!  So I continued on, with maybe a chuckle  or two at a few points. Then at the end, they asked a bunch of questions!  Were they the same group that heard my talk?

Then I had the second group.  They REALLY loved the picture!  I had to wait before I could continue because they were laughing so much!  When the end came, they didn’t ask ANY questions…but they stated to thank me…and we had to give another book to someone who didn’t look like she was paying attention but she was actually moved by my talk!

The third group had a few chuckles.  They asked a few questions at the end.  You never know what kind of impact you will have on a group until the very end of the talk, when they are leaving the room.

It must be tough being a stand up comic!

Stroke at 30??

Stroke at 30-something: You Can Come Back.  The Right Attitude, Therapy and Caregiver Support is Vital to Successful Rehabilitation

Stroke survivor Jessica “Jess” McNair can joke about it now—one of the reasons, in fact, she is convinced that it’s her sense of humor that helped her recover from a series of strokes this year. At 32 years old, Jessica experienced what doctors described as “cascades of multiple strokes” resulting from irregularly formed arteries in her neck. The event left the San Rafael, Calif., resident unable to walk, talk or care for herself.  The prognosis was bleak and Jess’ team of doctors predicted she had a five percent chance of living.  Her road to recovery started with a grueling schedule of occupational, speech, and physical therapy.

“I had overwhelming amounts of denial from the very beginning,” said Jess describing her first reaction to the news given to her at the hospital. Although Jess was preparing to move to London and bartending to save money, she doesn’t see herself as a victim: “I consider myself strangely pessimistic in an optimistic way.”

This is where Jess’ older sister Kate comes in.

The Caregiver’s Life is Changed

No individual or family is ever prepared to fulfill the role of a full-time caregiver. Looking back, Kate recalls that both her and Jess were overwhelmed with emotion. “We were both crying, but immediately started joking,” says Kate who feels that maintaining a good sense of humor is a necessary coping skill for everyone – but especially for stroke survivors. “When I walked into the hospital I told her that there are other ways to get a day off – you don’t have to have a stroke!”

A fulltime sales professional, wife, and expectant mother at the time, Kate knew early on that she had to deal with the situation personally. The then 34 year-old recalls the vagueness of the doctors and nurses in answering her questions, which emphasized how important it was for her to take control of the situation. Shouldering the responsibility of work and the physical demands of pregnancy, Kate now had the added role of primary caregiver to her younger sister.

Thankfully, Kate was able to rely on her husband and friends who helped deal with insurance companies, meal preparation, and physical therapy.

“There was a lot of planning. We had to plan how to watch her. It was pretty scary and the frustrations were there,” Kate remembers.

When it came to working as a team, Kate recalls Jess’ determination, “She was really determined. We would make a diary and everyday have these little goals.” This helped support the efforts of her rehab.

A Great Rehab Team

For stroke survivors, rehabilitation options depend on the severity of their stroke, their level of disability, and the intensity of rehabilitation exercises they are able to endure. The goal of rehabilitation is to improve the survivor’s function so that they can regain independence and live life without relying on a caregiver.

Upon suffering a stroke and calling the ambulance herself, Jess was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at Marin General Hospital where she had two more big strokes. She was then accepted to the rehabilitation program at California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC)—Davies Campus while she still had a tracheotomy. At the time, Jess couldn’t speak or make a noise. Through their sisterly-bond, Kate was the only person who could read her lips and understand her. “I guess you could refer to me as a vegetable at that point—I was not moving at all,” Jess points out. This marked the beginning of her three-month stay at CPMC’s inpatient rehabilitation facility, before being transferred to their outpatient program.

“I had three amazing people working with me—I call them my heroes,” referring to her occupational, physical, and speech therapists with whom she remains friends to this day. During her recovery, the skilled professionals got her standing up and walking again with assistive technology such as the EksoGT™, a wearable exoskeleton that helped train her body to walk with a proper gait, and an electronic stimulation machine that enabled her to relearn vocalization.  With these devices, both Jess and Kate noticed improvement, providing Jess the much needed confidence and motivation to continue her therapy.

A Time for Independence

Jess is still in recovery and has been able to regain some of her independence with the help of Kate and her army of “heroes.” The sisters, who will be separated in the upcoming months due to Kate relocating to Minneapolis, feel that this experience has brought them closer and made their relationship stronger.

“Before, we were close – we saw each other on an everyday basis, but now our bond has been reinforced. Silly arguments don’t seem to matter anymore,” mentions Jess.“I love her—she’s one of my most favorite people on earth. I feel like I’m abandoning her, so I’m going to miss her a lot, but I am confident in her progression,” Kate adds.

Jess is maintaining her positive attitude and currently focusing on regaining enough independence to be able to make the move to London.

To encourage others on their own personal comeback journeys, Jess and Kate recently participated in a podcast. The podcast is available through Connected Social Media, Ekso Bionics and iTunes.

To learn more about the advanced exoskeleton technology Jess used during rehab, visit Ekso Bionics.