from the Foreword
On June 9, 1992, at the age of 43, I had the stroke, followed nine days by another. The type of stroke I had is called "ischemic," referring to inadequate blood flow to some parts of the brain. Because the strokes were caused by a congenital heart defect, within a month I had surgery. Although this is my personal acccount of emotional and physical recovery, more than 750,000 people are affected each year by stroke in the United States. It is the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of major disability in this county. Stroke leaves challenging deficits; simple tasks become, at times, extremely difficult to perform. Over the years, I have grown by learning to adapt to a new way of living.
After the stroke, questions plagued me. As a nurse, why didn't I see the warning signs? As a middle-aged person, how could someone so young have a stroke? With no family history of stroke, why me? What part of my brain was affected? What it the meaning of the word recovery as it relates to stroke? Could it happen again?
During rehabilitation, I attemped to answer some of these questions by seeking information in medical textbooks. I found a book--Stroke: A Clinical Approach--written by Louise R. Caplan, M.D., of Boston, Massachusetts. This book was written for the medical community, but because of stroke deficits, I could not understand even the basic medical terminology I had once known. I knew, however, that he held key information to understanding strokes. In 1994, I sent him a letter--full of syntax errors and misspellings that I was not aware of making--requesting his help in finding answers to my many questions.
Dr. Caplan responded, and we decided to collaborate on this book. From there, it took several more years of stroke healing and education before I could even imagine finding a publishing home for our manuscript. In 2002, ten years after the event--yet with ten years of stroke recovery, experience, anda wealth of medical knowledge from Dr. Caplan--we give you an inside look at stroke.
The effects of stroke are challenging. My challenge to the reader is to gain knowledge so that together we may prevent stroke. And while we await significant research developments toward better treatments, I challenge the reader to face stroke head-on, to assist persons who have experienced a stroke to reach their full potential, to assist families who are providing care and support, and to help improve outreach measures so that every stroke survivor may have the best chance for recovery.