October 12th 2016 started out just like any other day. I got up in the morning, got my kids off to school and went to the gym and then to work, just like I did the day before. There was nothing unusual about this day as it was very similar to hundreds of other days I try to eat a healthy diet and stay in decent physical condition. Certainly, there was nothing about this day or my lifestyle that would lead anyone to suspect what was in store for me later that afternoon.
Sometime after lunch, I returned to my office with a mild headache and slight light-headedness. I wasn’t concerned with these symptoms as they didn’t impact my work and everything else seemed normal. After a while, the light-headedness swirled into dizziness and confusion and I fell off my seat and landed in a heap under my desk. My otherwise normal day took a sudden and unexpected turn.
I was lying on the floor alone in my office drifting in and out of consciousness. I felt no pain and there were no alarms going off in my head telling me that something was wrong. Instead I remember thinking "this is comfortable, I think I'll take a nap". When I drifted back into consciousness I remember thinking, I better get up off the floor. Not because I had come to the realization that something was wrong (I was too confused to have any rational thought). I thought it would be embarrassing if any of my co-workers saw me laying on the floor. I struggled mightily to get back to my seat and looked at the phone and thought I should get in touch with my wife Marie. I still didn't think there was anything seriously wrong but I remembered that I was supposed to drive my young son to soccer practice later in the day and I knew I couldn't even walk let alone drive a car.
I saw the phone and wanted to call Marie so she could come and take me home but I was too confused to figure out how to dial. Somehow I managed to use the call history to call home and luckily Marie was there even though she wasn't due to get home until some time later. She immediately knew that something was wrong based on my slurred speech and confusion and told me to call 911. I told her that I didn't know how and she got in touch with my boss who responded immediately. The EMTs arrived shortly thereafter and I was whisked away in an ambulance to the ER.
It didn’t take long for the doctors to suspect that I had a stroke and a CT scan verified it. The doctors informred me that I had a large stroke which caused damage to over 30% of my right cerebral cortex. Upon hearing the news, my first thought was to blame myself and think “what was it about my lifestyle that lead me to this?” I was in Massachusetts General Hospital for several weeks under the care of a team of world-class neurologists and cardiologists who turned over every stone they could think of to find the reason why a healthy, young man had a stroke. As I lay in my hospital bed getting transported to test after test, day after day, I thought it was only a matter of time before they find something wrong. After all that scrutiny, they never did find the reason I had a stroke or anything else wrong. Aside from the minor deficits left behind by the stroke, I was perfectly healthy.
Upon finally being discharged and undergoing months of rehab, there were no suggestions by anyone along the way regarding what I should change with my lifestyle to avoid a reoccurrence. I no longer blame myself or my lifestyle for having a stroke. The medical term for stroke is Cardio Vascular Accident (CVA). The definition of accident is “an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury”. That’s what happened inside my body on October 12th and there was nothing I could do about it.
I truly believe I received excellent, leading-edge care every step of the way throughout my recovery provided by loving, knowledgeable care-givers and I can’t thank them enough. I’m sure much of the knowledge and treatments provided to me by my caregivers was a direct result of the previous research made possible by the American Stroke Association. Stroke research has come a long way but the fact that a young, healthy person can suddenly have a stroke without warning for no known reason shows that there is still more to learn. During my journey through my ordeal I have witnessed and heard stories that are a stark reminder that stroke can strike couch potatoes, professional athletes, pre-nadal infants and elderly and anyone in-between. Making progress in the prevention and treatment of stroke benefits everyone.
I’m doing pretty well now and am fortunate to be back to work and providing for my family. I joined Tedy’s Team to help raise funds for stroke research and awareness and to try to give back to the community that gave so much to me. I was never a runner before my stoke. I joined Tedy's Team and started to run. I used to say after a short 2 mile run that "I don't like running and I could remember every arduous step". After a while I'd say "I don't love running but I dislike it less". Motivated and inspired by the other members of the team I continued running and ran The Boston Marathon with Tedy's Team in April of 2019. It's not easy to get out of a warm bed in the winter and go out and run in the bitter cold. Alone with my thoughts on a long run I could remember thinking "why am I doing this". I'm so lucky to have been able to walk out of Spaulding Rehab on my own 2 feet. There are many othes that I left behind that may never walk again after their stroke. With this thought in mind the answer came to me. BECAUSE i CAN.
Please join me in this endeavor to do what we can to raise money for this very worth-while cause. Thank you for supporting Tedy's Team, Your contribution is greatly appreciated.