Stroke, Blood Clot, Seizures, Brain Surgery, and Memory Loss

by Diane
(Akron, Ohio)

Early in October of 2014, I had a stroke and a blood clot in a vein at the same time. I had many seizures in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

memory problems story
They spent four days doing tests, and finally decided to go in and get the blood out of my brain from the stroke. Then a few hours after that, I had another brain surgery to get the clot, but that was extremely dangerous, because the clot was in a vein and not an artery.

From what I'm told, the walls of a vein are very thin, so the doctors told my husband that if on the slim chance I survived, I would probably be paralyzed on my left side. I'm here, and I have no paralysis, but I'm noticing more and more that I cannot remember a lot of things that just happened recently.

Sometimes it's something that happened only a few minutes ago, sometimes it's things that happened six months ago. I really felt like I was losing what little mind I have left!

It is good to know others are going through similar things as me. My husband reminds me all the time what a "miracle" I am, and believe me, I'm happy to still be alive, but at the same time, the memory thing is driving me crazy!

I have asked my neurologist about it, and all he says that with all I have been through, it's pretty normal. My family is very supportive, but as much as they try to understand, they really have no idea what it's like to have these memory issues.

Since my doctors call me their miracle, they all tell me they
can't even figure out how I'm still here, so I'm not getting many answers to my questions. My frustration level is very high.

Doug's Reply

I have heard the brain continues to heal for a couple years after trauma. Although there's no guarantee, of course, it is within the realm of possibility that some of the short-term memory issues may subside to a degree eventually.

A visitor named Gwen Mann lost most of her memory ability as the result of a brain tumor. Here is some practical advice she gave a mother whose daughter lost her short-term memory from brain surgery and who was very anxious as a result:
index card

  • "The things I do that really help me are to have a whiteboard calendar with my appointments and important events on it.

  • "I also use index cards that tell me the date, any appointments for that day, and any to-do list items I want to get done.

  • "I take photographs of things I do throughout the day to help me feel more connected to my life.

  • "I have an alarm that goes off 3 times a day to remind me to journal about what I've done that day."
I hope one or more of Gwen's tips may be of use to you. As your neurologist implied, you may need to adjust to this "new normal" for now, while holding out hope for future improvement.

Thanks so much for sharing your story. I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

Best regards,
This is information only. It is not medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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Jan 19, 2015
Suggestions for Diane
by: Gwen

Hi Diane,

I've just read your post and wanted to reach out to you to give you some support and suggestions of things that have helped me that might help you.

I suffer from memory loss as a result of a stroke. I would suggest that you ask your Neurologist to set you up with Neuropsychological Testing. This will pinpoint exactly where your strengths and weaknesses are. From there you should be able to get into Cognitive Therapy where you will learn ways of compensating for any losses or changes you are experiencing as a result of your brain injury.

Cognitive Therapy helped me learn how to organize myself, stay focused, and in general taught me how to compensate for my weaknesses by using my strengths. Before my brain injury I led a somewhat unstructured life. Now, I depend on structure and find it gives me a sense of power over my memory difficulties.

Memory loss was a very frightening thing for me, but once I learned coping strategies, I found that life was far from over. I have a new way of living, and ironically, I am actually a more organized and responsible person from who I was before. I guess that's my silver lining. :)

I know how difficult it can be to accept that you are a little different from who you used to be. Just be sure you love the new you, because the new you is just as wonderful and valuable as the old you.

I hope this helps.

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