Hello this is ______. How may I help you?

I cringe when ever I hear those words!

I think it was from all those times calling HP and all those companies supplying support to the PC platform.  Unfortunalely, I never could understand what they were saying.  It wasn’t THEIR fault,  but it was hard and very difficult to deal with.  The calls were frustrating to me: I had to keep asking them to repeat.  I am sure it was frustrating for them…also.  When I heard a few years that Apple Computer had a total US call center, I went with Apple…and I haven’t looked back.

There is one PC program I still use: Quicken.  I even recently bought a new PC just to run that!  I have been using Quicken for years (since 1989), but never had a problem.  That changed last year.

I used to be able to figure things out.  With the stroke, that changed completely.  Luckily for me, I still try to figure problems out. But when I get stuck, I call the help line.   So far, I placed 3 calls over the past year.  The first 2 were easy solutions that my wife could answer..I just didn’t ask her.

The call today was different

I  won’t bother you with the details, but I spoke to a girl from Guatemala…and I could only detect a very slight accent. I asked her how long she worked there…she told me only a few months.

When the first thing didn’t work, she told me she can fix it, but it will take awhile.   She could tell I was super happy, because I gladly said YES.  She had me looking for things (she didn’t tell me why each thing was important) and told me exactly where to look.  When I didn’t understand (a normal occurrence for me) she didn’t get mad…she just said it in a different way.  Isn’t this the kind of call you always wanted?

When she was done (in 45 minutes) she asked me if there is anything else she can do.  I wanted to  think of something just to see how she handled it…but I told here she did a great job.

Quicken is a fabulous company and they truly care about their customers. Here is what they sent to me after the call:

Quicken offered excellent help and I will tell anyone who will listen. HP and all those other companies can learn something from this!!!!

Another email that I received…

A email that I received yesterday:

Nice article. Explains exactly the problems facing stroke survivors and just getting the care they need. The sheer amount of specialists needed even for a mild stroke is out-of-this-world, despite for some they still need to find the root causes of having the stroke (with me they suspect AFib and on a month long event monitor trying to capture it when it strikes).

Trying to prioritize care is the hardest part now. I’m going to PT and seeing the cardiologist, but waiting to see a neurologist and ophthalmologist as finding the reason for the stroke is the priority (or it can happen again, after having multiple small ones … no more it must be found ASAP).

My strokes were really mild so what I’m experiencing is mild symptoms, like only certain muscle groups are weak, not the entire limb. Enough to notice, but not enough to need a walker/wheelchair and/or splints. Balance and vision took a direct hit, though. Need a cane to keep from walking sideways; and have a bilateral scotoma that makes reading like someone took an erasure to a page. Slow on focusing, like the irises take time to expand and contract, so to read then to look up distance will be unusually blurred for minutes. My strokes were very subtle “around the borders” type. Frustrating because the info online is tailored to the “classic” varieties, not smaller TIA strokes that leave smaller lesions, unlike the massive hemispheric strokes. Easier to deal with, but harder to “treat” as even I didn’t realize what groups got weak at first, which is essential info because of the 90 day window to begin focused neuroplasticisity training. Some areas like the shoulder weakness won’t even be discovered until weeks later when the shoulder pain starts. When I got home I thought I was fine. A week later,  found I was magnesium depleted that made the muscles ache like hell, and made my heart race (probably blew what little  potassium stores I had in the process too). The next week later the shoulder and arm felt weaker as the strength had ebbed by then. Three months later the areas now are all known and “set”, so from there it’s trying to train the exact muscle groups affected before the retraining window closes (have a year to push the brain to work around those lesions).

 Life is tough…but living through it gave me peace and understanding.  Now that is worth it!

Understanding a stroke


See more at National Stroke Association

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in America and a leading cause of adult disability.  Yet, research shows that too few people know what a stroke is and how to recognize when stroke is happening.

Learn more about stroke, how to prevent a stroke from happening to you, and  how learning the signs and symptoms could save the life of your loved ones.

What is a stroke?

A stroke happens when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off.  Brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die.  A stroke can cause you to permanently loose speech, movement and memory.  Read more about what a stroke is, types, and signs and symptoms of a stroke.

  • Hemorrhagic stroke
  • Ischemic stroke 
  • What is TIA?
  • Stroke facts 
Recognizing Stroke

Each year about 185,000 people die from a stroke. By learning the many warning signs of a stroke – you can help save a life.

Preventing Stroke

Up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented. Stroke can happen to anyone—at any time and any age. Arming yourself with information about stroke prevention is the first step in saving your life and the life of your loved ones.

  • Afib-Stroke Connection
  • Lifestyle Risk Factors
  • Medical Risk Factors
  • Uncontrollable Risk Factors 
 Impact of Stroke

With nearly 7 million stroke survivors and as fifth leading cause of death, stroke has a large impact on society. Learn more about the impact of stroke on women, minorities, and kids.

  • Women and Stroke
  • Pediatric Stroke
  • Minorities and Stroke

You are kidding me, right?

It is me...again!

Don’t worry...I NOT sick.  See the camera to the left of my head?  OHSU just want to take a few more shots of me with the nurses.  I know what your thinking. ” For now on, I am going to ignore everything.”  I understand you thinking… but what about those pearls of wisdom that come from my blog!  Won’t you miss that?

Help me understand…

One of the chief reasons I wrote “Painful Blessing” is to give hope and encouragement to caregivers, survivors, and generally those who are struggling.  Our story happens to be about stroke but there are many common threads with a variety of challenges.

We have observed that hospitals do not carry books of hope and inspiration in their gift shops.  This doesn’t make sense to me.  Honestly, I can’t think of a place where more people are struggling than in a hospital.  There are cookbooks, comic books, best sellers, classic literature and even a few “bodice rippers,” but no Bibles or books of inspiration.

What do you think about that?  Help me understand…

Jill Viggiano