My post on Intel executive vice president Sean Maloney's stroke prompted an e-mail from wireless and telecom industry analyst Jeff Kagan, who's himself a stroke survivor. I wanted to bring you the exchange, because I expect it'll open your eyes, the way it opened mine, to the unpredictability of the illness and the recovery period.
My post on Intel executive vice president Sean Maloney's stroke prompted an e-mail from wireless and telecom industry analyst Jeff Kagan, who's himself a stroke survivor. I wanted to bring you the exchange, because I expect it'll open your eyes, the way it opened mine, to the unpredictability of the illness and the recovery period.Here's the e-mail Kagan sent me:
"I just wanted to share some information to help you better understand the situation. First let me say I am recovering from a stroke, which occurred five years ago. I have experience in this area. Something I never did have beforehand.
The people you spoke with at Intel simply don't know anything other than he had a stroke. They can tell if it was minor or major, but that's about it. However, even if it was a minor stroke, what does that mean? Does that mean he will recover completely and quickly? We simply don't know and cannot predict.
I tried to pin the doctors down on that question myself and they didn't know. It depends on quite a few issues from age, to severity, to medical attention, to the part of the brain that was injured. Remember strokes are different for everyone. The symptoms depend on the part of the brain that was injured, as well as how much injury there is.
Some people are very lucky and recover pretty quickly. Others take years. Still others never regain the ability to do what they did before. Yet another angle is sometimes people no longer want to follow the same path. It all depends, and we cannot predict.
We just have to be patient and wait and see, and hope it is a full recovery and quick. However, we can do nothing to rush it. It heals as quickly as it wants to."
Kagan added that he is pretty much back to normal now, though it's been a long road. He pointed out that some 750,000 strokes occur each year in the United States, and there are 5 million fellow survivors out there.
I pinged him back asking about the primary cause of strokes. I wrote that I had always assumed they were due to untreated hypertension. Here's his reply:
"Good question. First let me say that I had a million questions. Answers were much fewer. We know more today than ten years ago, but we do not know enough yet.
Most strokes are caused by a clot. In your arteries, we have bits and pieces stuck to walls. Once in a while, one of those pieces breaks. If it goes through arteries and veins, we don't know about it. However if it goes through smaller and smaller arteries until it can't get through anymore, then we have a clot. A stroke.
Some clots break free after a while. That's a transient ischemic attack (TIA).You are back to normal but you better get to the doctor. You were lucky this time. Next time you might not be. You need to start blood thinners like Plavix, to prevent another event.
Some clots stay there. You have to get to the hospital within the first few hours. If they can catch it quickly, and if they can determine it is a clot, and not a bleeder, then they can give you a shot to thin your blood and break it up. The quicker the better.
Most people don't get to the doctor on time. Like me. I had no pain. No obvious symptoms except I was very sleepy and I said things that didn't make sense. However, I also said things that did make sense. So there was not an obvious sign. Of course, now I know better and would go more quickly.
We have to make sure everyone understands the signs. If they see someone they know and love acting strange, it is always better to rush to the hospital and check. If it is a stroke and if they can break the clot, then they can limit the damage. If they can't, the damage occurs, and can take years to recover."
If you're interested in learning more about Jeff's recovery, check out the "Life After Stroke" page on jeffkagan.com.
Here's a YouTube clip of Jeff on Georgia Public Television, discussing his stroke and recovery:
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.