A Stroke Survivor’s Tale – Clinically Dead

~ A Sudden Paralysis ~

It was after a weekend in St. Augustine, Florida that Jim Olbrich had his too-close-for-comfort brush with death. That night a blood clot rushed into his brain and caused a major hemorrhagic stroke. A stroke that has left Jim walking like Frankenstein.

Jim had driven the two hours back to his home in Orlando. Tired, he went to bed … but, found he had trouble rolling over … couldn’t easily get into position for sleep.

During the night, it felt as if a little girl’s hand pulled him out of bed. Jim headed for the bathroom … not yet aware that his left side was already losing control. He banged off the walls … stumbled his way … finally made it. Jim fell off the toilet … lay on the floor for awhile.

Next thing … Jim was in a helicopter — being whisked to the hospital. It happened that quick! And, it happened while he was sleeping.

~ Blood Pushing on the Brain ~

Later, in the ICU, Jim heard his skull crack … a cracking sound on his right side. Then, his head started hurting. The on-duty nurse offered a simple solution, “Well … I’ll get you a couple Tylenol.”

But … this wasn’t a simple headache to be solved by a couple of pills. Soon, Jim was in a coma.

In the operating room, his skull was opened … blood was drained … the pressure was released. But … “My brain fell out!”

When Jim woke up the next morning, “I got a gazillion staples in my head … holding everything together.” He’d also died.

~ Waking Up in the Morgue ~

Declared was declared dead and put in the morgue. A body bag was nearby and a nurse was putting a tag on Jim’s big toe. Luckily for Jim, the rubber band tangled with the hair on his toe. When the nurse pulled it back … she ripped out some of Jim’s hair. He woke up!

When Jim sat up and spoke … the startled nurse ran for the door. Instead she ran headlong into the wall. Now … Jim had to wait for her to come to. Finally, he was wheeled back to his room … a lot nicer than spending a night in the morgue.

“I would have spent the rest of my life looking at somebody else’s feet.”

~ What caused the stroke? ~

After years of being checked out constantly … Jim feels the doctors are still guessing. His cardiologist believes it was an artery on the front of Jim’s heart … it exploded and blew off … sending the deadly clot on its way to Jim’s brain.

The clot caused a “brain bleed” — a destructive hemorrhagic stroke. Pressure from the pooling blood “crushed” Jim’s brain.

~ Jim’s Still Paralyzed ~

Now, three years later, how’s Jim doing? “Not bad.” Jim’s not one to complain. His sense of humour is one thing that has gotten him through this ordeal.

Sporting a carbon-fiber plate in his skull … completely paralyzed on his left side … suffering from constant headaches … Jim chuckles at all his problems. “I walk like Frankenstein … on a cane.”

Jim is still on therapy and hopes to one day “become more graceful.” If Jim’s doctor had been correct … Jim wouldn’t walk at all. But … Jim is stubborn. He may not walk pretty … but, with his persistence, he does walk.

It is a source of relief to Jim … he never lost his ability to talk. Also, his memory is still quite good … barring a few blank spots. “They’re a total mystery to me.”

They may be lingering in a small piece of brain … in a jar. A piece of brain — “The size of my small finger” — is still sitting in a jar downtown. Jim hasn’t been able to see it yet … but he’d like to. “I want to see where my memory is.”

~ Can Jim’s paralysis be treated? ~

“That’s forever!”

Or, until more T-cell research is permitted. Jim needs that … he’s on everybody’s list to volunteer. What Jim needs now is a new president … someone who won’t be against such research.

Why is the current administration against T-cell research? “That’s because they’re healthy!”

~ How to Avoid a Stroke ~

Jim’s advice? “Keep an eye on your cholesterol. Arteries clog up … that’s the problem.”

High levels of LDL cholesterol will lead to atherosclerosis. And, the poor dietary habits that create this problem also bring on high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. All put you at a high risk of heart attack and stroke.

Take some time out today … look at your diet. Could it be healthier? Start eating better, get some exercise, live a healthier, longer life.

Jim doesn’t want you to join him. He’s quite content being the only one who walks like Frankenstein. If his story can keep you from suffering what he has suffered … you’ll put a bigger smile on his face.