How Do You Handle the Shock of Discovering That You Have a Stroke?

Shock StrokeThe shock of learning that you have a serious illness is a terrible shock. At first you are likely to cry- yes, even men. It is natural to cry as it lets your emotions out and actually helps you to cope.

Next you will probably want to find out as much as possible about your illness. You will speak to doctors and no doubt, search the internet. If your problem is a common one, like breast cancer, you will listen to those who have suffered a similar medical problem or to friends of someone who has.

In my case, I really did none of these things. On discovering that I had had a stroke and a brain tumour was discovered, I simply lay back (in hospital) and waited for the doctors to keep me informed. It may have been because I felt so normal. I could still function and think clearly. I was not in pain, I did not feel sick. It was not until the second day when I went to read a book and realised that I could not read, did I cry. That was the shock of my life.

I was in hospital for 2 weeks and underwent many tests, but I was not told very much by the doctors. Again, I was in a sense of denial of the seriousness of what I was facing. There was a consultant who discussed a medication for the stroke. The difficulty was, I could not take the drug that was needed, as it would compromise me for the brain surgery that was to take place. So I was placed on an alternative medication.

It was not until the second week that my surgeon came and introduced himself to me and discussed my brain tumour surgery. I was not told much about the actual tumour only that by its shape they thought it would be benign. However, the seriousness of the situation was stressed. The tumour was deep within the brain and pressing the brain stem out of alliance.

My Husband and I immediately agreed to have it removed as quickly as possible. The sort of questions I asked “What is your track record for this type of surgery?”

My surgeon told me he had performed around 2,000 brain operations and only 2 were not as successful as he had hoped.

So my next question was “What are the side effects likely to be?” 

“The left side of your face may droop and you might lose the use of your right arm and leg” the surgeon told me. He went on to tell me to expect to be in hospital and rehabilitation for at least three months.

I was sent home for a week before surgery. On my way out, I was given a DVD of my MRI, which is what the surgeon needed to see exactly where the tumour was and help him decide on how to approach it.

I did not check out anything. I did not look at the internet, I did not speak to anyone, I did not even look at the DVD until the night before my surgery. I just wanted to feel and act as normal as possible until it was all over. It was much later that I had to accept and decide on how to cope with my disabilities. It seemed a waste of energy for me to worry about something over which I had no control.

Tips and Hints

Everyone responds to discovering they have a serious illness, differently. People can feel stronger if they can find out as much as possible; others (like me) find that information somewhat daunting and unrealistic. It is almost as though you are just reading a book about the condition and it is not really you who is suffering. But, in the end, everyone has to accept the inevitable and acknowledge that they are suffering.

28 thoughts on “How Do You Handle the Shock of Discovering That You Have a Stroke?

  1. james

    I agree, when diagnosed with a serious illness a person can feel empowered or in denial, but in the end we must all accept what the truth is and try to handle it with as much grace and courage as we can.

    Reply
  2. Ana B.

    I agree that can be very difficult to acknowledge and accept that you have or have had a serious illness, but it’s key to recovery and can really help you get better and cope with the illness.

    Reply
  3. akku

    A great article on how to Handle the Shock of discovering you have a serious illness. I think this formula wood work well for most folk.

    Reply
  4. sarah keating

    Personally, I like to get all the information right up front. It makes me feel more in control of the situation, but I understand your perspective as well.

    Reply
  5. Jennifer Merkley

    I can’t even imagine how I would respond to finding out I had a terrible illness. It is very enlightening to realize that everyone responds and acts differently with their situation. Thank you for the tips.

    Reply
  6. Chris W.

    It must be overwhelming to learn that you have a serious illness. I like your approach of not worrying about it as the disease was beyond your control. Worrying never solves anything. It is better to be proactive.

    Reply
  7. Sergio Duarte

    We have a family member who is dealing with a stroke and coping with the information coming in daily….It is a little overwhelming for me to deal with….I can only imagine her feelings. This article will help out a lot…Thank you

    Reply
  8. Debbie Boulier

    Acceptance of your illness can be really tough. I mean who wants to admit they really are sick and have a serious medical problem? Also, accepting and understanding what’s happened to you helps your recovery.

    Reply
  9. Karen Payton

    Illness is not picky and anyone is susceptible. I agree that acceptance is very important as it’s one of the first steps to recovery. The quicker you do so, the quicker you can start healing! Thanks for the article Barb!

    Reply
  10. Mike Teberio

    This is really a very serious illness that nobody should take as a joke cause i have seen many close people too me pass away from this and a lot of the time it affects your body in some very serious ways so everyone should be alarmed.

    Reply
  11. udaykumar

    I really appreciate the way this blog is posted as these are all real experiences and this is the language which makes everyone understand.Thanks for these blogs.

    Reply
  12. jinie lara

    It must be overwhelming to learn that you have a serious illness. I like your approach of not worrying about it as the disease was beyond your control. Worrying never solves anything. It is better to be proactive

    Reply
  13. Chalene

    The realization of the illness must be absolutely surreal, and I am sure that it is hard to come to terms with. But if you do, can it help the process to recovery?

    Reply
    1. Barbara Gabogrecan Post author

      Absolutely! I never once questioned “Why Me” – or not believe that it was happening. It was just another chapter in my life. I accepted it and knew that I would simply have to cope with the outcome. Consequently I was not scared, miserable or worried. This meant that I was as relaxes as I could be and I simply worked through each step of the problems that I had to face. I was told that I would be in hospital and rehab for around 3 months – I was home on day 7. All the medical staff put this down to my determination, positive approach to everything and even my caring attitude towards other patients. I am convinced that you heal more quickly and are definitely happier if you accept everything that you have been dealt…just remember – this is life!

      Reply
  14. Austin

    Another great article. Dealing with a serious medical problem or illness is difficult for everyone , but as said in the article it is important to accept what has happened and try to move forward with that knowledge.

    Reply
  15. Carolyn Lee

    Finding out Dad had the stroke was as devastating to the family as finding out Mom had Cancer. The unknown for us. Not knowing how to approach the situation we were thrown in. But months of Google Searches was a Help and having People to stand beside you is a must for both or all involved. Each person needs an outlet to Vent etc.. when going through this. The information and story here is Amazing TY for the Awesome articles!

    Reply
    1. Barbara Gabogrecan Post author

      I am so sorry to hear of the shock of both parents suffering from devastating illnesses. What a courageous lot your family are. I have made the comment often that not sufficient understanding, care and support are given to the caretakers who may actually be suffering more than the patient is (this was the case with my husband; he went down hill fast trying to cope with my brain tumour and stroke and care for my elderly Mum who had Dementia and was nearly blind). In Australia we do have some assistance for caregivers; they are invited out for ‘rest’ days; their is respite centres where the ill can stay for a week or two to give the carers a break; and there is some home help available. Barb

      Reply
  16. S.B. Stewart-Laing (@sbstewartlaing)

    A nice honest emotional post. Thanks for the reminder that everyone deals with a serious illness differently. We all have different needs and recovery styles!

    Reply
  17. Will McCaig

    Great article. my parents are getting on in age and strokes are becoming more and more likely for them. just reading this blog of yours has given them confidence that they will be able to face the obstacles that could arise. bless you and your concern.

    Reply
    1. Barbara Gabogrecan Post author

      I am so pleased that my post was of assistance to your parents. Let’s hope they never have a stroke! Barb

      Reply
  18. Fred Arnold

    I have never been faced with something this big and I’m unsure how I would cope. Who really knows until you are face to face with a doctor talking about potential brain surgery…

    Reply
  19. Mona

    Very thoughtful article. Like you say, everyone will respond differently to such news. When looking in from the outside, it’s easy to judge. But we need to remember that people process information differently, at their own speed, using their own coping mechanisms. Thanks for such a thought-provoking article.

    Reply
  20. Michelle Kafka

    Acceptance and finding out as much as possible on an illness is what I believe to be the steps to recovery. Proactive is key. Being strong, but also having some one to lean on when needed is another sure sign to getting better. Happy to hear that the doctor answered your questions.

    Reply
  21. jane

    Any illness can be incredibly difficult to come to terms with,. It can adversely affect lifestyle and mobility. In relation to being diagnosed with a stroke the best form of therapy would be to develop a support network and try to remain active.

    Reply
  22. Karen Rumps

    It is extremely understandable that accepting such news would seem like a life breaker. I can’t imagine it for myself.

    Reply

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