Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fibromuscular dysplasia

I really never knew my grandmother. I kinda knew her from a distance  I saw here maybe about 5 or six times. My mother did not know her until she was 22 years old. But, my point about all of this is MY medical history. 

The stroke was much unexpected. There was no family history, but last night I remembered that my grandmother died on her 66th birthday and the cause was a cerebral hemorrhage.  Mom said that she told her other daughters that she would die that day--  and she did!  

So, is there a hereditary condition? Who knows.

I often wonder about adoptions.  How would you know about your medical history? For my brothers and me, I do know about our family history I guess.

My Dad’s family history is the usual stuff. Grandpa Selmer had cancer and died at 77. Grandma Agnes had the “Robertson Disease” (her maiden name) but the common name is Alzheimer’s.  My dad has liver disease and died at 63 like his brother who died at 63 succumbing because of liver disease.  His cousins also died of liver disease even though some did not drink at all.

For my mother, Grandpa Bailey had heart attacks.  Mom’s siblings were another story.  Her mother had four kids, and Mom was the second. Three fathers for four kids. I do not know about Mom’s siblings from that side of the family.

For my Mom’s dad, she has two sisters living. They were her "sisters."

So, always wonder about me! Was there precursor? Was there a warning? Was this the luck if the draw. Why me?

At the hospital when the first stroke happened, the doctors said “this is what caused my torn carotid artery."

“Fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD) is the abnormal development or growth of cells in the walls of arteries that can cause the vessels to narrow or bulge. The carotid arteries, which pass through the neck and supply blood to the brain, are commonly affected. Arteries within the brain and kidneys can also be affected.”

Of course, three days later, the “big one” hit, and my journey is continuing to unfold.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


One of the most interesting things about my stroke is relearning everything. Tying my shoes. Using a belt. Using hairspray – assuming I have hair! Using tooth paste. Using a knife properly was a cautionary dilemma for me! 

These very commonplace tasks are a struggle for me.
So the gift that keeps giving is that I have to concentrate for even the most mundane tasks!

Here is the clinical definition:    

Apraxia is a disorder of the brain and nervous system in which a person is unable to perform tasks or movements when asked, even though:
·         The request or command is understood
·         They are willing to perform the task
·         The muscles needed to perform the task work properly
·         The task may have already been learned
Other forms of apraxia include:
·         Ideational apraxia: Cannot carry out learned complex tasks in the proper order, such as putting on socks before putting on shoes.

I am grateful that this is getting better. But one of the last grooming issues I have had is tying my shoes. Really.

I had no problems with the left leg.  I could put on my left sock and shoe with no problems. But, the right sock gave me fits!  I tried and tried. I logically defined the task. I thought about it. But to no avail.

For months and months I practiced.

My son Ethan was the key even though he had no idea. I was trying in vain to put on my right sock. Then Ethan was putting on his socks. And, I had an epiphany! I got it!

No problems now. Of course, I have to think about it just like I have to do with everything I  do.  It was much simpler then!

Thursday, November 8, 2012


I had a wakeup call yesterday. I great friend said something like “buck up! 

Yes, you had a devastating thing happen but I am still living capable of doing great things with your life. And, this wasn't my tragedy. It was everyone's tragedy because we all love you.”

My stroke happened almost 10 months ago, and I do have a lot to be thankful for. Most of my doctors told me that I would get better, but they said I probably would be disabled for life. That was devastating news, but it gave me incentive to tell them “F.U.”
I have good and bad days like anyone, but life is good. I have my family and friends. I have options for my future, and many stroke “victims” do not.

Granted, people really do not know about what I am going through. It is lonely sometimes. Frustrating? Certainly!
But, life dealt a big blow to me. I think that I am handling it well considering what happened to me, but I also know that I have a great support system. Most people don’t have that kind of support.

When I started blogging again, I was focused on my experience. After all, this is MY story and my blog. I am hoping to write a book about my stroke and the aftermath.  But “aftermath” is not only bad. It is a tapestry of my life.
The tapestry is frayed a bit, but I am trying to repair it!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Damn "functor" words!

Language is key for me. I love to write and read.  It is fundamental for my soul. I cannot imagine my life without communication, words, reading the great books and thoughts. But one of the most devastating things about my stroke is the loss of my inner voice that is my “thought.”
I used to read so fast. I used write to fast.
It is ironic that my “voice” is stilled because of my stroke. I was great in math, art, etc. School was really easy for me.  I cannot do a lot of things like I used, but, really, who cares about math!
I do care about reading and writing. It is the essence of my being.
And, I thought it would kill me even if I recovered from my stroke.
It is getting better. The fact that I am blogging again is the testament that I am recovering. I must be patient. I want to read and write right NOW! But, my body is a mystery to me, and I must wait and let nature take its course.
Last night, I noticed my cupboard door in my bathroom. I actually forgot that I practiced different words. What words you might ask?


A word, such as a preposition, a conjunction, or an article, that has little semantic content of its own and chiefly indicates a grammatical relationship. Also called form word, functor. Here are some examples of functors in English:

Demonstratives such as this and that  or

Conjunctions such as and, or, and but or

Conjunctions such as and, or, and but."

On way to say these are prepositions or “connector words.”  It is common that stroke patients have big trouble saying these words. Actually, I make a lot mistakes because of these word, and assume my blog posts are riddled with these functor words. I cannot help myself it seems!
My wife did so much to help my recovery. Throughout our house, she put lists of my trouble words everywhere. We started with “time” words.  I had no clue about things like “tomorrow, today, yesterday, and the weekend.” It wasn’t just the words, I could not comprehend their meaning. I suppose that given that I wasn’t thinking about time, space, matter, and even my future.
So, when I discovered last night, I reminded myself that I have come a long way. I am proud of myself – and Heather!
It is also ironic that the other part of the door says something “We love you Daddy.” The name “Daddy” is something I focused on over and over as I have been recovering.  Ethan says “I love you Daddy.” I love you too Ethan Stanford Dunham. I am getting stronger every day because I want to be daddy for Ethan.
But, I still have some functor words that give me grief. I could use a profane word similar to “functor” to describe my stroke but I digress.