The Faces of Stroke

When you hear about a person whose had a stroke what is the picture that comes to you?

Many times when someone asks me about my stroke, I get these reactions: “You are too young to have had stroke!” or “you look good for someone whose had a stroke.”

If you had asked me a couple of  years ago what I think a stroke “victim” would look like, I would have said “old, wheelchair bound and frail.”

I had never pictured myself a stroke survivor. Other than high blood pressure, which I thought I had under control, I did not think I was at risk for a stroke. I lived a healthy, active life.  I am learning now that stroke does not discriminate.

These are the faces of stroke: Men and women of all ages, from all walks of life. All of them fighting, surviving, thriving.  


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I would like to thank the men and women who shared their pictures so I can hopefully change public perception about stroke survivors.



And I Get Up Again

Previously on MommaBerna: I had talked about my first (and thank goodness my only one so far.) fall. This was how it happened.  In this installment, I’ll talk about my emergency room experience.  The drive to the E.R was a tad dramatic. I guess the adrenalin from my fall was wearing off.  I took a quick look at the visor mirror and what I saw was my bloodied, swollen mug.  This was when I emotionally fell apart. My poor husband, driving in an already panicked state, now also had to calm me down. IMG_8603

I was crying “oh dear God, I am already crippled and now I am going to be ugly too!” And the tears were falling freely and loudly. I knew I was going to get stitches, I am going to get a huge ugly car. We get to the E.R. and of course, there was a long line of people waiting just to register.  I was called in, given an initial assessment and was sent to get a CT scan (I am pretty sure that after all these CT scans and MRIs I will either be a superhero or I’ll glow in the dark).  I must’ve hit my head when I fell and Armando told them that at intake.  I suppose as someone whose had a stroke, they are more vigilant about checking for internal brain damage. The doctor took one look at my cut, and determined I would need stitches. The room I was given was tiny, imagine Harry Potter under the staircase cupboard room tiny.

So….for my fall I get not one! not two! but four shots of numbing stuff injected to my face! Why don’t they have numbing stuff to numb the face for the numbing needle? I had to get my wound washed out, so i had my face on a bed pan which Armando found hilarious! I was tended to by a sweet, gentle and kind Physician’s Assistant. She had me calm and settled. Her fingers were so light that I hardly felt the stitches going into my face.

The bedpan was on the wrong end of the bed!
The bedpan was on the wrong end of the bed!

I want to say that I jumped right back into the exercise wagon after the fall but honestly, I was scared. I did not want to fall and get hurt worse than I did.  It took me a couple of days to get back to the gym. The gym employees had a great time joking about how I look like a tough guy walking around with my shiner.

I suspect this won’t be the last fall. I am more cautious now, and I really haven’t walked much since then, I have however discovered the joys and safety of water walking and Aqua Zumba.


Much Love,

Momma Berna


Falling Down at 1.99

UFLW9498Part of my therapy, my exercise routine is to go for a walk on days that I do not go to the gym. My very good friend and forever neighbor sent me a text asking if I wanted to go for a walk, it was a bit unusual since it was Thursday afternoon and she is usually at work. I jumped at the chance. To be honest, I have been slacking off on my walks. I have been to the gym and use the elliptical or the treadmill. So off we went. I love our walks Tammy and I, we have known each for ages, since our kids were toddlers. We used to spend many summer afternoons well into the evenings playing at the park. Our kids covered head to toe with sand. We’ve had to spray them off with the hose on at the front yard before going inside. Now, our kids are teens, now busy with their own lives . So it is just now Tammy and I reminiscing about the good old days. We also vent, talk about our day, our week our lives.  So there we were, on a warm Thursday afternoon walking down familiar paths that we have walked many, many times.  We turn around to get back home and I see that my Runkeeper was at 1.85 miles, I of course wanted, no needed to make it to 2 miles. I asked Tammy if it would be ok if we walk to end of the street and around the corner to make it to two miles. I was pushing myself, trying to walk faster and all of the sudden, I feel myself going down, I see the panic on Tammy’s face, I dropped my phone and as if on instinct the first thing I did was to STOP the Runkeeper app. A rush of frustration came over me when I saw that I fell at 1.99 miles! Ok. ok some of you might just shrug it off and think it is no big deal, but another runner would understand the frustration. I felt something warm on my arm, my running capris was dotted with little red spots, the pain now starting to creep up on me. A car pulled up as we sit on the sidewalk, blood dripping on my arm and pants. Two people come out of the car asking if we were ok.

The young man addressing Tammy said “We saw what happened. We saw her fall, can we give you a ride home?” I tried to protest, the house is just around the corner. Tammy accepted their offer, she was shaking. I keep telling her I am ok. Things were getting blurry now. My son, Vincent, heard the car pull up to the curb and ran out to meet us. Tammy’s voice was shaky as she tells Armando what happened.  I had ran to the bathroom to see the damage. I had sustained a cut on the left side of my face, right under my eye barely missing my eyeball. My eyeglass broke and a piece of plastic cut my face. It was decided that I needed a trip to the emergency room.

To be continued…

Much Love, 



Runner, Runner

Misunderstandings are the heart of many sitcoms. Anyone remember Three’s Company? Yeah it’s funny until it happens to you. Then you just have to laugh about it.  The first  night  in rehab, I had to use the bathroom and a  nurse came in to help me. As she helped me get out of bed, an alarm went off. Two nurses rushed in the room and asked if everything was alright. My thinking was still really fuzzy then so all the hassle just went over my head. The next day, as I was wheeled into the physical therapy room, one of the therapists was unbuckling me from the wheelchair. He made a comment on how I was double belted.

“what did you do?” he asked. I did not know what he was talking about. That evening,  I asked the doctor why my bed was alarmed. It had gone off a couple of times during the day.  I was curious. She told me that I have to stop trying to get up and get off the bed on my own. She threatened to place a safety enclosure over my bed to keep me in.  At this time, I still could not move the left side of my body.

This was the 'cage ' that was going to be placed over my bed if I tried to run away.
This was the ‘cage ‘ that was going to be placed over my bed if I tried to run away.

I could hardly feel my leg where did she think I was going to go? The next day, the pt once again said something while buckling me to the wheelchair. He also said that there is an alarm on my wheelchair. I wanted an answer. I needed to know the reason behind the tight security?

The answer made me laugh and to be honest a little proud of myself.  Someone the hospital had made a note on my chart that I  was a “runner“. The staff at rehab took that to mean that I have been trying to escape! I was flattered that someone would think I am capable of running away! I was also confused, where did they think I was going to go?

It took a couple of days before the staff lifted my security order. They had to wait for a team meeting, the doctors and therapists had to make a decision to ease my restrictions. It took two more days before I was given my “freedom”.