Surviving Injury To Brain Following Stroke

Armen Hareyan's picture
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What would you do if you suddenly found yourself unable to walk or talk? Tommy Beel ate properly, never smoked, wasn't a drinker, exercised and got an adequate amount of sleep each night. At the young age of 32, he suffered a stroke. In his new book, "My Glitch: Personal Experiences During Recovery From a Brain Injury", Beel shares his experiences of being stricken with a brain injury that kept him in hospitals for 27 consecutive months.

Fortunately, Beel had subtle signs the stroke was coming, though he never imagined the outcome. Concerned with the abnormalities he was experiencing, he went to see his doctor and was misdiagnosed with the flu. One evening while walking home from work, Beel was hit with a stroke, introduced by intervals of slurred speech and inadequate balance. He was able to make it to his house and the local hospital without assistance. They kept Beel overnight and released him the following morning, even though he was unable to walk. He took a cab home, walked into his kitchen, and fell into a deep sleep on the floor for three days and nights.

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A colleague, concerned with Beel's absence from work, came to Beel's home, discovered him on the floor and called an ambulance. He was taken to the same hospital he had been released from just three days before, where he was put on a strict medication regimen to reduce his pulse rate, dehydration and kidney stress. He was fitted with a feeding tube and began speech, occupational and physiotherapies. Beel was stabilized and moved to a rehabilitation hospital, where he spent seven and a half months in recovery.

Beel was moved to a third hospital, where he continued recovery for 16 months. During that time, he began to develop a clear understanding of the various ways a brain injury debilitates an individual:

Looking back at the experience, I have never asked, 'why me?' In fact, I have thought 'why me' for having what I consider a very successful rehabilitation. My attitude from the beginning has been to make the misfortune of having a brain injury analogous to having a fall. The survivor may choose to stay down, or to treat the misfortune as a glitch, from which he or she may recover, to move on with life.

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