My Stroke

I suffered a stroke on September 19 around 10:00 p.m.

It happened very quickly. I was pretty calm, but I didn’t know what was going to happen. At the time, I was frustrated I wasn’t able to tell my family, including my kids who had gotten out of bed, that I loved them, possibly for the last time. In fact, I delayed the ambulance trying to get the words out but couldn’t. I was very disappointed!

Thankfully, Joleen was able to call 911 and get help. Moments later, I remember waiting in the ambulance in front of the house but don’t remember anything after that. I was life-flighted to Altoona and then onto Pittsburgh where I spent the next 15 days at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital.

I don’t remember the first few days at the hospital, but I gradually became more aware. It was a pretty surreal experience. The nights seemed especially long; I described them being three times as long as the days. I sometimes wondered where Joleen was because I didn’t see her for so long, or so it seemed.

Doctors suspected a brain bleed, but it wasn’t until a second angiogram revealed the cause of the brain bleed, an AVM (arteriovenous malformation). I underwent surgery on September 29, a craniotomy, which went well. The surgeon described the brain bleed as “severe”; he later said it was the size of a lemon.

A few days later, I was transferred to HealthSouth (Altoona) for therapy and spent 25 days in occupational, physical, and speech therapy. I would have stayed longer to make the most of my inpatient therapy, but that was as long as our insurance would allow. I appreciated my time at HealthSouth. I enjoyed visiting there six weeks after I was discharged for a routine appointment with the rehab doctor. I got to see my three therapists. It was especially rewarding to walk in without a wheelchair or a cane!

From early on, I discovered I was “fiercely independent” (a phrase used by a speech therapist at HealthSouth). I quickly learned to dress myself, including socks and shoes, and open my own food, all with one hand.

With the stroke I lost the use of my right side and my communication. Thankfully, my communication has come back pretty well (I was recently discharged from speech therapy), and my right side continues to get stronger. I continue to go to Drayer Physical Therapy for occupational therapy and physical therapy three days a week.

The toughest part is the daily battle. There’s no time to settle. There are always new accomplishments to achieve. This is how it’s going to be for a while!

I’m so grateful to God and the many people who have helped with my recovery, including surgeons, doctors, nurses, and therapists at Presbyterian Hospital (Pittsburgh), HealthSouth (Altoona), as well as the physical and occupational therapists at Drayer (Clearfield) and a speech therapist Penn Highlands (Clearfield). I’m especially grateful for my family, friends, and the prayers of God’s people!

Well, we wish that was the end of the story. However, a routine follow-up angiogram revealed some “residual AVM.” Hopefully, this will be addressed in the next few weeks with different procedures.

If you’d like to follow the journey, visit my Facebook timeline. We continue to put our trust in God’s hands!

7 thoughts on “My Stroke”

  1. Pastor Willis, Mike and I are sorry to hear of your health issues. We will keep you in our thought and prayers and hope for a complete recovery. Hopefully the latest problem will be solved.
    Mike and Linda Herring from St. John’s Heritage Center.

  2. Continuing to keep you in prayer Randy as you inspire me to be patient and strong in my storm. May God continue to bless, strengthen, and keep you in your days of recovery. Your faith certainly shines through in this storm. Prayers lifted for whatever is yet to come.

  3. Praying for your healing. I can relate to much of your suffering and healing. Mine was the result of a motorcycle accident that my husband and I were in… He died that day. I suffered many breaks in my body, internal hemorrhaging,and concussion. After 7 surgeries, much prayer, and loads of physical therapy, I was able to walk again, use my hands and wrists, and hopefully my brain works well 🙂 All that to say, Father is no respecter of persons and what He did for me, He’ll do for you and more! My late husband’s favorite verse was Psalms 103:3. God used him to pray for many people who were healed using that verse. God bless you!

  4. I made a comment on a different post regarding the photos I sent you. I’m hoping that you are well and have regained full use of your right side. God bless you. Hope to hear from you when you can.


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