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Thinking About Giving Up Cigarettes? Doc Velocity Just Had a Stroke...

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posted on May, 28 2010 @ 02:15 AM
Well, I suppose I should have seen this coming and heeded the unsolicited (and solicited) advice from those around me, including my personal physician.

I've just returned from the hospital after spending the last 30 hours on the Stroke Ward. I had a stroke Wednesday morning.

For those who have never experienced a stroke, I thought perhaps it would be useful to describe the event in some little detail, to give you a first person perspective. Then you might need to seriously consider a few lifestyle changes, such as giving up smoking.

I've been smoking since the first day of college in 1978. Yes, I tried giving it up a couple of times, for as long as a year in one case. Although I have beaten plenty of other addictions and bad habits in the past, it seems that I just didn't have the willpower to abandon cigarettes.

Until now, that is.

Early Wednesday morning, around 7:30, I stepped away from the computer and went outside for a smoke, as is my wont several times every night (and every day, for that matter). I noticed instantly that my cigarette had a harsh and disagreeable flavor, and I tossed it after only a few puffs. It then occurred to me that it was garbage pickup day, so I went about the routine of gathering up the garbage and litter bags from around the house for deposit on the street corner.

I was struck by the foul odor of the garbage, which was highly unusual — we normally compost all organic matter, and as far as I knew there was nothing rotten in the garbage. Still, there was this pungent, acrid, fecal smell that seemed to be growing stronger — like an evil mixture of Pine-Sol and diarrhea — so I hurriedly disposed of the bags in the appropriate receptacle outside and wheeled it out to the end of the driveway.

But the foul odor followed me back inside. Very curious, indeed.

I realized, then, that I had forgotten the wastebasket next to my computer, so I retrieved it and headed outside to add it to the other trash at curbside.

As I descended the seven steps from my front porch, wastebasket in hand, my left leg suddenly buckled and went out from under me. The sensation was that of stepping right though the wooden step. I caught myself, preventing a more catastrophic fall, and realized that I was on my left knee, yet there was no pain — it was as if my leg had disappeared for a split-second. I regained my footing easily and continued out to the garbage can.

It was when I returned to the house, entering the front door, that I was abruptly overwhelmed with an unreasoning sense of despair, which descended into gloom within a few moments, followed by utter hopelessness a moment or so thereafter. Alarmed with this freakish mood swing, I decided not to return to the computer, but rather headed upstairs for a lie-down.

Reclining in bed was not the answer. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw wild and colorful scenes flashing past, which gave way to dark, somber, monochromatic images that quickly flickered away like a celluloid movie running off its reel, as though the projectionist had missed his cue. I started having Death thoughts.

My awareness of the passage of time seemed retarded, as well — I had no idea for how long I lay there until my wife Mary entered the room and announced that it was 8:15. She then asked me who I was talking to.

I wasn't aware that I was talking at all.

She asked me again, more persistently, and I said something stupid like, "You know I talk to myself all the time." Which I don't.

Coming to my bedside, she peered hard at me and asked, "Have you been drinking?" She knew that I gave up drinking ten years ago, and it angered me that she would leap to such a conclusion. I said, "No, of course not!"

"Then why are you slurring your words?" she asked worriedly.

That's when it finally hit me, when I finally assembled all the data of the last forty-five minutes: The bad-tasting smoke, the foul smell, the collapse on the steps, the inexplicable mood swings, the chaotic thoughts, the slurred speech...

"Oh my God," I said faintly, "I think I'm having a stroke."

Mary was stunned for a moment, then immediately shifted into high gear, grappling my arms and pulling me into a sitting position. "When did it begin?!" she said sternly, trying to look into my eyes.

I was now having difficulty articulating what I wanted to say... I knew what I wanted to say, but I couldn't figure out how to formulate the words. With some effort, I finally managed to mutter, "Seven...thirty..."

Come on!" she cried, "We have to hurry!" See, she has been preparing us for a stroke event for years — there's a high incident of stroke in her family, and we've educated ourselves in preparation for such an incident — but we never ever anticipated that it would be me.

As with a cardiac event, you have a fairly small time frame for action before massive and untreatable damage sets in due to depleted oxygen supply. With a stroke, there is a "Golden Hour" of action, just as with a heart attack. Every minute counts.

Once I was on my feet, supporting myself against the door frame, Mary flew downstairs to alert her mother of the emergency. This was the moment when I realized how far gone I really was.

The sensation of a stroke, in my case, was very claustrophobic. It was very much like wearing a large fishbowl over my head — that's how my hearing and vision were distorted. When I spoke, the sound of my own voice was like speaking from inside a fishbowl. And my senses were rapidly deteriorating as a weird pressure increased in my temples.

The sense of unreasoning hopelessness was now like a heavy weight pressing down on me, pressing down on my neck and shoulders — thoughts of Death were looming around me. I felt a childlike panic building in my chest, I wanted to tell my wife that I loved her, that I was going to die, right now.

But the fear only lasted a few moments. I stopped it with my Faith, and cast the fear off of me, by sheer force of Will. I tried to recite The Lord's Prayer aloud, but the words were impossibly difficult to form in my mouth — nonetheless, the fear dissipated, the Death thoughts evaporated. I felt serene.

Just then, Mary came flying back up the stairs, put her arm under mine, and supported me down the staircase — I could tell she was on the verge of panic herself, but I managed to speak to her, Don't...worry. What I wanted to say was Don't worry, it's in God's hands now.

The drive to the hospital emergency room seemed swift, but I had lost my sense of urgency. I was quite impressed with the efficiency with which the ER staff took over the situation — anyone who doubts the high level of medical care in the USA just hasn't been to the hospital recently. It was nothing like I remembered or imagined it. It was superb.

Within a few minutes of arrival, a stroke specialist was at my side, rapidly assessing my awareness, my vision, my hearing, my physical strength, my tactile senses, my ability to coordinate my movements, and my ability to speak — which was practically gone at that point. The specialist gently assured me there was no need to speak, the only thing I needed to do with my mouth was hold a couple of aspirin under my tongue.

I looked down and was surprised to see an intravenous drip already inserted in my left arm. I turned my head slowly, quizzically to the nearest ER tech, who, without further prompting, answered that it was a blood thinner. Just then another tech came to my side and assisted me into a wheelchair and took me straight away to the X-Ray labs... I was in the CAT scanner less than 15 minutes after my arrival at the ER.

One hour after my admission, I was already in a private room, attended by a charge nurse, her immediate assistant, and a number of other nurses each wheeling in her own bit of vital signs equipment. Much to my relief, I was not surrounded by beeping, humming monitors (as was my last hospital experience) — this time, my heart, respiration and blood pressure were monitored by a small telemetry pack carried in my patient gown. I was free to move about, if I so wished.

Within three hours of my admission, an echocardiagram was performed right there in my private room, followed shortly thereafter by a much more sophisticated ultrasonic doppler-carotid examination. Within five hours of my admission, I was already on a pharmaceutical regimen and a cardiac diet...

And my ability to speak articulately had completely returned.

What is most astonishing, to me, is that I could observe, very objectively, my rapid deterioration and rapid recovery under the care of a stroke team. They were nothing less than amazing.

At about 3:00 pm, my personal physician arrived at my room, came to my bedside and gave me a hard look. The first words out of his mouth: "WHAT is the Number One contributing factor to Stroke?"

I set my jaw defiantly, then sighed: "Smoking." He had told me this many times during our association — I just never listened.

"Smoking." he affirmed.

I grinned sheepishly, "Funny you should mention smoking, Jeff. Did you hear that I gave it up just today?"

He smirked at me and nodded, "Yeah, I heard that."

— Doc Velocity

[edit on 5/28/2010 by Doc Velocity]

posted on May, 28 2010 @ 02:24 AM
Wow. That makes my migraines suddenly not sound so bad. I'm glad you seem to have made it through okay. I've never had a friend or relative of mine have a stroke. I think one of my cats did once, and the effects are strangely similar. His right legs didn't work so well, one side of his mouth drooped, he meowed strangely, and his personality completely reversed. He didn't last long after that, mostly because at the time I had no idea what to do. It's good that your wife came home when she did and got you to the hospital. Hopefully that won't happen again.

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posted on May, 28 2010 @ 02:31 AM
So, he ordered that I remain in the hospital for another 24 hours for observation — which meant cognition and dexterity testing every 3 hours all day and all night. Every nurse and technician I encountered instantly asked for my full name, my birth date, what day of the week it was, AM or PM, and a whole slew of other innocuous questions designed to assess my awareness, my focus, my cognitive abilities.

Three-o-clock in the morning, even, a pretty nurse came in, woke me up, and asked me who was the president. I told her Richard Nixon, just to give her a scare.

Thursday morning my doc came back in with a clipboard full of test results — Brain clear, heart, aorta and brachial arteries clear, but carotid arteries showed mild plaque build-up...

He postulated that a tiny little bit of plaque had undoubtedly broken away and gone to my brain, which precipitated the stroke.

"YOU ARE LUCKY," he intoned. He did not see evidence of massive and irreversible brain damage — but no thanks to me. He said, very seriously, "Consider this a warning shot over your bow. Not many people seek immediate treatment, and many, many people suffer massive brain damage as a result."

I got the message.

So, I was released late Thursday afternoon, and now I sit here, still wearing my patient's bracelet, with a few syringe bruises inside both arms, and a nice big nicotine patch on my left shoulder.

I would ask any of you out there who are still smoking and eating poorly to at least reconsider your lifestyle choices at this point in time. I'm not going to lecture, but I speak as one who was just yanked back from the cliff ONCE AGAIN.

And I'm getting too old to keep living like I'm physically immortal.

— Doc Velocity

[edit on 5/28/2010 by Doc Velocity]

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posted on May, 28 2010 @ 02:35 AM
S/F and an applause if I could give it. But you still get a standing ovation from me. I really needed this post as I myself am currently battling the ole cancer stick. Again I appreciate you taking the time to pen down your experience.

posted on May, 28 2010 @ 02:39 AM
Star and flagged

Pleased your ok and i appreciate your posting up the symptoms. It might just save somebody their life or their faculties. As someone who is battling VERY HARD to give up smoking after 29 years its also a timely reminder of my own mortality and frailty and a kick up the backside for me to keep fighting. My sincere thanks and best wishes doc

posted on May, 28 2010 @ 02:40 AM
Wow, I'm a fan of your work here Doc, and I'm glad to see you're ok!

Just one thing though, I think you used to many italicized words, it really got to me for some reason.

Star and Flag, glad to have you back with us!

posted on May, 28 2010 @ 02:47 AM
Hey doc glad to hear your ok and I'm sorry you had to go through that mess.

I am a smoker, have been for about 6 years now and I can't even bring myself to quit. I tried quitting for a couple of days and just broke down. This has happened numerous times even with the help of a patch.

Smoking is my only crutch, I quit drinking for the most part(I only drink when there is a social event and even then it's only a few drinks and I have also completely changed my diet over the past 8 months no fast food, pop, junk food) but I just can't shake the addiction I have to cigs.

The thing that scares me is that I too have been living like I am somehow immune to the dangers of smoking and I'm afraid that the only thing that will get me to quit is to have something happen to me like what happened to you.

I wish I never smoked the damn things in the first place but I know I need to do something and do it soon to get over this crap.

Maybe I will try and quit and read your story from time to time to remind me of the reality that smoking can cause.

Again I'm glad to hear you're alright and hopefully you stay in good health.

[edit on 28-5-2010 by TV_Nation]

posted on May, 28 2010 @ 02:47 AM
Wow...what an incredible telling of your story. I am sure this will touch many people and perhaps help some make a positive lifestyle change.

You are obviously meant to be here for awhile longer. It's great to hear that you had such a positive stay at the hospital. The technology and ability to treat Ischemic (clots) strokes is there, but as you clearly stated, time is the most important thing.

S & F

Thank you for sharing! I'm glad to have the opportunity to still enjoy your posts!!!

posted on May, 28 2010 @ 02:59 AM
Whoa. Glad you made it doc - you are lucky. Very good thing you guys prepared for such an emergency... even if it wasn't supposed to be you in the emergency room. I hope you continue your recovery unhindered - you're a very lucky man.

Edit to add - thanks for the description. It will probably help someone reading this down the road a bit.

[edit on 5/28/2010 by hhcore]

posted on May, 28 2010 @ 03:01 AM
So it really was diagnosed as a stroke? Even though they failed to find the clot? If yes, then lucky you and that it resolved with blood thinners and you recovered.

What strikes me odd, is that the exact same symptoms can be associated with a panic attack, and a panic attack is cleared up by some of the medication they might have given you for stroke.

[edit on 5/28/2010 by above]

posted on May, 28 2010 @ 03:03 AM
Thanks for a happy ending. I felt saddened a bit from reading about your ordeal. Being in an emergency situation gets the adrenaline going: I know - I've been through so many - down the flight of stairs, zooming down the roads at high speeds and just being there for the family. Welcome back to a healthier lifestyle!

posted on May, 28 2010 @ 03:05 AM

Your story is a bit overwhelming..

I can only hope that you will be back in the saddle of peak health soon Doc..!


posted on May, 28 2010 @ 03:06 AM

Originally posted by above
So it really was diagnosed as a stroke? The ultrasound or x-ray found the clot? If yes, then lucky you and that it resolved with blood thinners and you recovered.

Yeah, it was a stroke, diagnosed. They anticipated a more severe aftershock, if you will, which is why they kept me over for observation.

The blood thinners and aspirin, of all things, worked wonders within a few hours — I could actually see and feel the drugs at work, restoring circulation and oxygen to my brain. Incredible experience.

— Doc Velocity

[edit on 5/28/2010 by Doc Velocity]

posted on May, 28 2010 @ 03:11 AM
Glad to hear you're doing fine now. Could have been much much worse. Your description was downright frightening however, one of the scariest things i've ever read. Smoking is one of the worst things you can do to your body, I am quite glad I quit 4 years ago. It was hard, but worth it in the long run.

Throughout our lives we all think that it can't happen to us. There will always be time to correct any mistakes done to our health. Eventually an acceptance of lifestyle takes over and it's now who we are. I find myself in a similar situation with weight now, but am working hard to control it.

Once again, glad to hear you're okay. I hope for a speedy recovery and will consider you and your family in my thoughts. Best of luck in the coming days and weeks.

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posted on May, 28 2010 @ 03:11 AM

Originally posted by heyJude
Just one thing though, I think you used to many italicized words, it really got to me for some reason.

That's just the way I write, I write in HTML and BB code, the bold and italics commands are my means of adding inflection.

Glad I can still write. Period.

— Doc Velocity

posted on May, 28 2010 @ 03:13 AM
i dont like your posts but its cool your still alive to reply to ats banter.

posted on May, 28 2010 @ 03:16 AM
reply to post by Doc Velocity

truly amazing thread bro
my prayers go out to ya
for a speedy recovery

And I fear I may not be far behind ya
as I also have an addiction to the
cancer stick as well. My smoking
hasn't been a solid time frame but
segments of adulthood. I'd smoke
for a while, then quit for years, then
start again due to some traumatic
event which happened to me personally.

But I was truly impressed with how
you articulated this event AFTER the fact.
That is nothing less than a spectacular
bird's eye view account.

thank you for this thread.

posted on May, 28 2010 @ 03:18 AM
reply to post by Doc Velocity

I've never had a true life recounting here on ATS give me goose bumps before.
Yours did.
I so hope you and your wife recover well and fast (I see both people as stroke victims - the victim and the loved ones)...

Thank you for sharing...

As for the smokers who read this?
Don't just have a mini epiphany over Doc's thread...

Thank God for your faith and your strength.
In prayers and thoughts from me to you and yours...

[edit on 28-5-2010 by silo13]

posted on May, 28 2010 @ 03:26 AM
reply to post by Doc Velocity

Damn, that's heavy.

Glad you're ok Doc.

It's a good thing our bodies do give out a final warning.

Good luck with kicking the habit, and may you return and stay in good health.

I'm curious, what causes the bad smell and taste?

posted on May, 28 2010 @ 03:27 AM
This is such a great story. Thank you so much for sharing it.

A few details from your account of experiencing a stroke--particularly the rapid mood swings, incoherence, mild hallucinations, and loss of time perception--had me wondering if some of the effects of a stroke are similar to those brought on by psychedelic drugs.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not some stoner wanting to know whether or not it felt like you were tripping.

I've read that, in extreme conditions, the brain gives off chemicals that mimic the effects of psychedelics. I personally find it fascinating...I don't know why.

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