View Full Version : ? about stroke victims

Saint Fool
11-02-2008, 06:28 AM
My elderly neighbor (S) had a heart attack followed by a stroke. She is back at home, frailer than I think she wants to accept, but had seemed to be doing well.

Today, I stopped by to visit her and for the first five or ten minutes she was fine. Then, for about 20 seconds, she checked out. Frozen, eyes staring straight ahead, not responsive to my voice. She then continued the conversation as if nothing had happened -- except that for all intents and purposes she was talking in tongues. I could not understand a bit of the gibberish (a mixture of disconnected nouns, verbs, and sounds)she was speaking. Also she seemed to be very weak.

So I went next door to her neighbor and called S's son. No answer. Asked another neighbor to come in and talk to S while I went back with a fabricated excuse that I wanted to borrow some knitting needles. Got son's cell phone off of her fridge and talked with him. Apparently, S has done this a few times and the doctor said it was typical behavior for a stroke victim and not to worry. I went home, talked with the neighbor who came in. She said S was talking clearly while she was there although S did have to struggle with words at the ends of sentences.

I now have S's son's number on my cell so that if anything serious happens while I'm there - or if I find her on the floor, I can contact them. But, my question is this:

Do I tell her what happened and ask how she wants me to handle it if it happens again? I tried to tell her that I couldn't understand a word she was saying, but I don't know if she understood me or even heard me. She's an ornery and proud woman and I don't know if she would even admit to remembering it if she did.

Suggestions? Comments?

Appalachian Writer
11-02-2008, 06:38 AM
I have mini-strokes. I had one CVA (cerebral vascular accident) and about 5 TIA's (Trans ischemic accidents)..why they call strokes accidents, I'll never know. Anyway, when I have a TIA, my symptoms are similar to the ones you describe. I don't speak clearly, I'm weakened, and in my case, the function on my left side is hampered for a while. Strokes are scary, and most victims know that something has happened. They don't know that their speech is unintelligible. They know what they're trying to say. Rather than worry her, I'd just ask her to speak more slowly. If these exasperations of the stroke continue for more than a couple of weeks, it might be time to really worry. Some effects of stroke go away as the brain manages to reroute the nerve impulses around damaged areas but some don't. The left corner of my mouth is paralyzed. That's been an issue since my first event. The one problem with all that you've said is that this woman has apparently been left on her own. At this stage, I'd really be more concerned with that. She's lucky you're around.

11-02-2008, 08:13 PM
I too, would be worried about the fact that she's alone. If one of these attacks should happen while she's cooking or in the bath, it could be deadly.

Unfortunately, as a neighbour, there's not really much more that you can do than you've done already. Bless you for caring.

11-02-2008, 09:11 PM
SF, you're an angel for caring the way you do. Everyone needs a neighbour like you.

But, may I suggest you make sure the son has told S's doctor that she is left alone? It's a worry and a responsibility for her son, not to mention for you and other kind neighbours.

11-02-2008, 09:21 PM
She may be having seizures. Her stroke may have compromised a part of her brain that triggers seizures. This may or may not be the mini strokes someone mentioned above. It is not uncommon for either to occur.

It would be wise to have her checked by a doctor to detect which it is in this case (TIA or seizures). For, if it is seizures, she can be given a med to control such. Seizures are dangerous in their own right for several reasons. Although, some will only produce symptoms like you state. Some seizures are so mild that one will only avert their eyes for a second or stare blankly for a moment. People just think they have "wandered off" again or lost train of thought.

A check up in this case would be wise - given her other med history recently.

Stroke victims compromise some part of their brains (obviously) - and receptive/expressive language may forever be compromised. It may be mild, it may be severe. But, often, "finding" or recall of words seems compromized in some manner. Thus, that indicator (taken alone) does not mean something more is going on. That part may just be residual stroke issue. She cannot know until she is seen by a doctor.

Good luck!


Saint Fool
11-02-2008, 09:29 PM
The being alone scares me too. She's really insistent about being in her house and doesn't want any live in help because she says she doesn't need it. That's for her family to deal with and I'm hoping that my call will help them realize that they just can't come over a couple of times a week and be there for half an hour and that they really need to work on getting some one in there. She does have a a therapist and a visiting nurse who see her on a regular basis and hopefully will note any changes.

The doctor does know that she is home alone.

Thanks for the info Appalachian Writer. Now that I know this is something that's ongoing, I'll follow your advice. It was just strange to see for the first time. Also, she does call her next door neighbor a couple of times a day and Lib has promised me that she will call if she hasn't heard from her.