In early July, 2011, I interrupted my nonstop journalistic pursuit of paths toward sustainable human progress to focus on sustaining myself. The hiatus was not by choice, but was mandated by a stroke — the out-of-the-blue variant, the rare kind of “brain attack” (the term preferred by some neurologists) that is most often seen in otherwise healthy, youngish middle-aged people.
I blogged on my cerebral misadventure as it unfolded, but only got around to writing up an article about it after Ben Lillie, who left high-energy physics to focus on science storytelling and co-created Story Collider, invited me to tell my stroke tale as part of a special story slam in Brooklyn focused on brain science. (The event was part of Brain Awareness Week.) Here’s the Soundcloud player with my tale, as related to a roomful of Brooklynites in March (I think you’ll enjoy it; no kidding):
Here are some prime take-home points:
Take your body seriously.
Time (wasted) is brain (lost).
Question authority, but not too much.
Old habits die hard.
This line, which I posted on Twitter from the hospital, says a lot, as well:
Don’t stress your carotid arteries if you like your brain and the things it does for you.
This tweet says much, as well:
Read on for the narrative exploration of my cerebral misadventure describing what I experienced and what I learned (much of it while blogging from the hospital) about enormous opportunities to speed stroke diagnosis and treatment. As I explain, a particular opportunity lies in telemedicine, which can connect a top stroke specialist with any suitably equipped emergency room (or even ambulance). Click here — “The Doctor is Not in, But WILL See you Now” — for my video interview with Bart Demaerschalk, director of the Mayo Clinic Telestroke Program in Arizona and the lead author on an important paper demonstrating the method’s cost effectiveness.
I also encourage you to watch this video interview with Yulun Wang, the inventor of the technologies that facilitate long-distance stroke diagnosis and care:
Here’s my Times story, which begins with a marvelous run in the woods with my elder son on a hot summer day on Fourth of July weekend, 2011. And here’s my videotaped discussion of my experience with David Corcoran, the editor of Science Times.
Finally, and most important, perhaps, here’s a great Facebook page from the National Institutes of Health: “Know Stroke.