What does it feel like to have a stroke?

Katherine Scott Brantley suffered three strokes at the age of 24; this is how it felt, and how it’s impacted her life


A question posted on Quora asks, “What does it feel like to have a stroke?” Read Katherine Scott Brantley's opinion on the topic, and please share your own experience of what it was like.

I was 24 when I suffered mine, which explains some of it ...

It didn't hurt. This isn't unusual for me; when I was pregnant with Norah, I had contractions I didn't feel, either. My nurse looked at me, felt my stomach, and said with gaping mouth, "You can't FEEL that?!?!"

But in other ways, it was devastating. Imagine a pitcher who gets his arm blown off, a quarterback who loses his ability to throw, or a Nobel laureate who can no longer remember the language she wrote her masterpiece in. It was like that for me. I used to be a scientist - and a pretty good one, too. Post-stroke, though, I was too tired to think. I remember wanting to write a 10-line program in Matlab, for example, that I'd written before the strokes but hadn't bothered to save because I could rewrite it at the drop of a hat. I never did.

I can't drive for the same reason.

I can't go into crowds because they wear me out. Cross football games off my list of things to do; they would send me into a panic.  

I avoid noisy places because noise wears me out. Crowd noise is the worst; football games would be a really bad choice. Also bad are weddings, concerts (the loud kind), schools, and IKEA on Memorial Day weekend (OK, maybe not my best idea ever...).

I can't go out in the sunlight without my super-duper, 98 percent light-blocking sunglasses because it's too uncomfortable. It doesn't hurt, but then again, neither does puking. And I hate puking.

I can't write anything by hand. My handwriting shrinks down to nothing in less than a line. Taking notes in a meeting is not an option unless I have my computer with me.  Writing numbers on a geologic map isn't, either. And, as I discovered this weekend, it's humiliating to go to a service day at church and find yourself unable to write messages in greeting cards for Meals on Wheels folks.

I had hemiparalysis and aphasia, both of which have pretty much cleared up. You can't even tell there's anything wrong with me. I would give anything to get my cane back, though, because invisible disabilities are just as frustrating and you get ZERO credit for living with them.

Anyway, I would strongly warn your patients that they do NOT want a stroke.

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