“The only disability in life is a bad attitude” ~Scott Hamilton
I knew months ago, that this January blog would be about Strokes. Unfortunately, I had no idea that I’d be writing it from a very painful and personal perspective.
Upon waking one morning three weeks ago, my husband, Howard, realized he had sudden significant vision loss in his right eye. Let me tell you, few things are as frightening as that. Agonizing days followed while Howard underwent medical tests.
Finally, his diagnosis: A stroke of the optic nerve, the cable that connects the eye to the brain. It is known as non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAAION).
NAAION is caused by impaired circulation of blood to the front of the optic nerve. It is called “non-arteritic” because although there is reduced blood flow, there is no inflammation of the blood vessels. It is called “anterior” because the reduced blood flow and injury to the optic nerve happen at the front-most part of the nerve, where the nerve meets the eye. It is called “ischemic” because that is the word that describes injury due to reduced blood flow. Finally, it is called “optic neuropathy” because it is an injury to the optic nerve, which disrupts the ability of the eye to send information to the brain.
The exact cause of reduced blood flow to the optic nerve in NAAION has not been proven. But it is known that this condition occurs more often when a patient is over the age of 50, and has conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or sleep apnea. Smoking may also elevate the risk of developing NAAION. Most patients with NAAION have an anatomical variation of the optic nerve, making that area tight and crowded. This anatomy probably contributes to the impaired circulation that causes NAAION. And, although it is controversial, some researchers believe that another risk factor for NAAION may be the use of blood pressure medications at nighttime, contributing to lower blood pressure during sleep.
Howard is over 50, but he has none of the other typical risk factors. An avid bicyclist and hiker, he is physically fit, and has normal blood pressure. He takes no medications whatsoever and has never smoked. But, he does have evidence of the anatomical variation of his optic nerve causing crowding. He also snores. So, he’ll soon be given a sleep study to see if he has sleep apnea as an underlying factor.
Unfortunately, there are no effective treatments for NAAION. But, many patients do regain some vision in their affected eye within 2 to 3 months.
Similar to a stroke of the optic nerve, a stroke of the brain occurs when part of the brain dies after going without blood for too long. In the United States, approximately 750,000 strokes happen each year. Strokes can cause long-lasting disability or even death. However, early treatment and preventive measures can reduce the brain damage that occurs because of stroke.
There are two main types of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic.
Ischemic stroke — Ischemic stroke is caused by a blockage in one of the blood vessels that supply oxygen and other important nutrients to the brain. If the artery remains blocked for more than a few minutes, and enough blood can’t get through, the brain can become damaged. The majority of strokes are ischemic.
Hemorrhagic stroke — Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when blood vessels in the brain leak or rupture, causing bleeding in or around the brain. This can lead to pressure within the head, which can cause damage to the brain.
Ischemic stroke risk factors include the following:
- Older than 40 years
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol levels
- Illegal drug use
- Recent childbirth
- Previous history of transient ischemic attack
- Inactive lifestyle and lack of exercise
- Current or past history of blood clots
- Family history of cardiac disease and/orstroke
Hemorrhagic stroke risk factors include the following:
- High blood pressure
- Illegal drug use (especially cocaine and “crystal meth”)
- Use of blood thinning medicines
Knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke can be lifesaving. Classic stroke symptoms can be recalled with the acronym FAST. Each letter in the word stands for one of the things you should watch for:
- Face – Sudden weakness or droopiness of the face, or problems with vision
- Arm – Sudden weakness or numbness of one or both arms
- Speech – Difficulty speaking, slurred speech, or garbled speech
- Time – Time is very important in stroke treatment. The sooner treatment begins, the better the chances are for recovery. Therefore, call an ambulance right away.
Although stroke is a condition of the brain, it can affect the entire body. A common disability that results from stroke is complete paralysis on one side of the body, called hemiplegia. A related disability that is not as debilitating as paralysis is one-sided weakness or hemiparesis.
Stroke may cause problems with thinking, awareness, attention, learning, judgment, and memory. Stroke survivors often have problems understanding or forming speech. A stroke can lead to emotional problems. Stroke patients may have difficulty controlling their emotions or may express inappropriate emotions. Many stroke patients experience depression. Stroke survivors may also have numbness or strange sensations.
Bio-Touch has been shown to alleviate residual symptoms resulting from strokes. While not a substitute for standard medical care, Bio-Touch is an effective complement to medical protocols.
In my book, “Bio-Touch: Healing With The Power In Our Fingertips” I relate the story of Curtis, a man left blind from a genetic condition. Bio-Touch helped him to see again! And that’s why I give Howard Bio-Touch every day. There are no medical treatments to help Howard’s condition, but we know the amazing thing Bio-Touch did for Curtis, and that gives us precious hope and gives me something I can do to help Howard through this very difficult time.
Giving people hope is why the Bio-Touch organization teaches Bio-Touch, and why it is offering a workshop on Strokes at the Center in Tucson on Thursday January 25th from 6-8PM. Workshop attendees will learn the Bio-Touch points necessary to address Strokes.
So if you’re in the Tucson area, bring your friends and family to the Center at 5634 E. Pima St. It’s so rewarding to share Bio-Touch, and you’ll feel great learning how to help others feel better! For more information or to learn about online classes, go to justtouch.com.