What I’ve Learned So Far

A week ago today marked the day I had my cerebellar stroke and I must say, it has been pretty interesting. Having to explain to people what happened has been difficult since this is something I never thought I’d have to understand. However, I’m very grateful to be able to tell the story and move forward. I’ve put together a few facts that I believe are pretty important in beginning to comprehend the nature of strokes.

What is a stroke and can cause one?

A stroke is defined as “a sudden disabling attack or loss of consciousness caused by an interruption in the flow of blood to the brain, especially through thrombosis [aka a blood clot].” What this definition lacks is the fact that there are two ways you can get a stroke, through ischemia (a blockage of blood flow) and hemorrhage in the brain.

Blood clot become more likely due to certain factors, such as:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Not exercising
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure

Although this would be the norm, the body also attempts to heal arterial dissections with blood clots. This is what happened to me. In my case, I had a vertebral artery dissection, in which my body started this healing process and in result the blood clots went up my vertebral artery and stopped blood flow in my cerebellum.

In my last visit with the neurologist, I realized how lucky I had gotten. Apparently, the blood clot went through my vertebral artery and took an unexplainable hard right to my Posterior Inferior Cerebellar Artery (PICA). If it hadn’t taken that right turn, I would likely still be in the hospital today.


There are stroke types?

This is one of those things you just don’t think about it until you need to. Lots of people give me a wide-eyed look when I simply tell them I had a stroke. They have no idea how to respond because every time I’ve heard someone’s had a devastating stroke – it’s just “a stroke”. There are a few different types of strokes, and each have different outcomes. See below for reference:

Type Function of Brain Section What Happens if a Stroke Effects the Area?
Cerebellar Regulates balance and movements. Coordinates speech muscles and body movements. Lack of balance or coordination, slurred speech. This could cause the victim to lose the ability to walk, and even talk.
Right Brain Stroke Generally controls the left side of the body. Weaken or paralyze the left side of the body.
Left Brain Stroke Generally controls the right side of the body. Weaken or paralyze the right side of the body.
Brain Stem Stroke Controls breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate. May cause paralysis on both sides of the body.
Transient Ischemic Attach *This type of stroke is a smaller “warning” stroke that is caused by an interruption of blood flow to the brain. Could have any signs of any other type of stroke, but will only last up to 24 hours.

What are the long-term effects of a stroke?

This is a very awkward question for me to answer. The best I can do is speak for myself. Four months in and I still don’t know how to reply. I’ve got this question many times in person, and it hasn’t been easy to stand there and shrug it off. I’ve thought about it a lot, and I’ve concluded that all I can do is live life to the fullest and not let a stroke stop the goals I had set out before. I choose to live my life UNHINDERED by this and any event, you all should too!

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