Different Strokes for Different Folks

I love when you stroke my back.

Stroke” yelled the boatswain as she set the rhythm for her oarswomen.

Draw a stroke upon the page.

Cinderella, you must leave the ball at the stroke of midnight!

Hazaah, what a stroke of luck!

My favorite stroke to swim is the crawl, also called freestyle.

Ah, stroke his ego and he’ll probably let you do what you want.

What a stroke of genius these brothers had with their Global Buckets idea!

My mother’s brain had a stroke.

So many meanings of stroke!

Different strokes for different folks.

And so it goes with my Mom, though her different stroke is not one she had on her list of all time “must haves”. Yet, in looking these over, they do share two strong similarities to the type of strokes a brain can have. Some of these strokes are long and ongoing, while the others are short and to the point.

And so it is with a stroke in the brain. My Mom had a long and ongoing stroke, called an evolutionary ischemic stroke. It began on a Saturday, as far as she could tell, and took just over a week to run its full course. Her internist told me that if you’re going to have a stroke, this is the best type to have and also the most common. The doctor described two other types of stroke: hemorrhagic, which is bleeding in the brain and often results in a coma, and embolic, which is a blood clot that breaks off from a blood vessel and travels to another location to create a blockage. [Note: the American Heart Association describes just two types of stroke.]

What appears to have happened in my Mom’s body is a hardening of the arteries, which means that the impacted artery was like a clogged off-ramp on a highway – there wasn’t room for the blood to flow. According to Mom’s doctor, this most likely happened in a larger artery impacting the left side of Mom’s brain, causing the right side of her body to shut down. She cannot move her right leg or arm, and cannot see anything that presents on the right side. However, if we stand in front or her, or to her left, she sees us just fine. Her speech and memory have also been impacted, though I am happy to say that yesterday her speech was just slow but not slurred, and she is finding alternative words to express herself. In a curious way, she is expanding her repertoire of daily words, though she always had an expansive vocabulary.

My Mom is a righty, and both a skilled and heartful piano player, and we think that physical and occupational therapy may bring back sensation and some use of her right arm and leg. What saddens me is her partial loss of vision; I need to ask about the prognosis for vision recovery.

Looks like my next stroke is to skoot ahead in Marian C. Diamond’s Human Anatomy lectures and watch her talks about the eye, sensory and motor pathways, motor pathways and the forebrain, and the forebrain.

Here are a few resources that provide further information about strokes.

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