Arnold before his stroke at
Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History - Norman, OK
Arnold's Diary below was written by Nancy Allen
Summary of Arnold’s Main Stroke Symptoms from Dec. 16, 2014 to July 2015
Dec. 16 – TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) symptoms with garbled speech, weakness in his right arm, and urinary problems all day.
Dec. 17 - Jan, 12, 2015—Original TIA type symptoms gone. Sleeping nearly all the time, hardly eating (no taste to most food and anything sweet, extremely sweet in a bad way), looks extremely ill, hardly talks, has lost weight, and doesn’t seem like himself at all. He has an apparent stroke after the TIA. This is very common.
Jan. 20 to present—appears to be recovering from symptoms and more like Arnold before the stroke. As of July 2015 appears to have fully recovered from his stroke.
Details of what happened during Dec. 16, 2014 to March 6, 2016
Tues., Dec. 16, 2014 - Arnold came in for lunch after working across town. His speech was garbled and I couldn’t understand it all day and evening. Sometimes he would insert an odd word that didn’t fit when he tried to talk. His dexterity was bad with his right hand-arm. He had a very hard time getting his food onto a fork with his right hand. He dropped things all day from his right hand. He looked very sick and couldn’t stay awake most of the day. He seemed slightly more unsteady on his feet. Urinary problems the rest of the day. The right side of his nose was running a lot for no apparent reason.
Almost immediately after he got home at lunch, I sat down at the kitchen table with him and told him I thought he had some stroke symptoms and we needed to go get him checked out right away. There is a short window of opportunity to treat a stroke. I said that over and over. I am a nurse. He refused. He slept most of the day. I thought about calling an ambulance and trying to force him to go. I hesitated to do that. Looking back, I probably should have.
Wed., Dec. 17 - His speech is okay today. His dexterity seems recovered. He seems much more aware of things. We got to his family practice doctor late morning. He thought Arnold had had a TIA that had resolved or was resolving. He got some lab work. He recommended Arnold go to a neurologist and his cardiologist. We will go to his his cardiologist Monday. We thought the worst was over, but it was just beginning.
Thurs., Dec. 18 - He is sleeping all the time except when in the car, eating, or walking around. He is not his usual talkative animated self. He will answer briefly if spoken to. He seems like a different person. He did bring me coffee in bed as usual this morning, get the trash out to the curb, and empty the dishwasher without me prompting him. That was rather surprising. He noted some numbness on the right side of his face and mouth when shaving and brushing his teeth.
Fri., Dec. 19 - He seems quite a bit more with it today mentally. He worked in the garage some and was able to drive his pickup for the first time. He did well driving. (The only time he has driven since the incident.) He still looks quite ill. His gait is not exactly right—hard to analyze since he had his knee surgery though and his gait isn’t perfect. He stayed awake until after lunch. That was good. He has been sleeping way too much since the event.
Sat., Dec. 20 - He was awake from about 10:00 on until about 5:00 p.m. My brother in law who saw him for the first time since the event said he definitely didn’t seem like himself and it looked like he could hardly stay awake.
Sun., Dec. 21 - He seems a little worse than yesterday so far (about noon). He went with me for a brief errand. He slept the rest of the morning, ate lunch, and now going back to sleep. He seems frail and older. He said his back had been hurting him the last few days. When he talks he doesn’t have a strong voice. He looks quite ill.
Prior to this he usually slept a maximum of 4 hours a night if that much. He would often take a little nap after lunch. His problem was not falling asleep but staying asleep.
Mon., Dec. 22 – Went to Dr. Fionnuala Gurley our cardiologist and Dr. Chris Meyer our family practice doctor. Got lab work at family practice office. Lab work normal I believe. Urinalysis had several abnormal readings. Got a strong antibiotic for that.
Wed., Dec. 24 – He got a carotid scan which was normal. Sleeping nearly all the time. Eating little. Losing weight. Looks extremely sick all the time.
Thurs., Dec. 25 – Missed Christmas – still sleeping nearly all the time. Back, neck, and shoulder hurting. Ate a small amount. I, and other family members, began to fear he might die or never recover. He said he was too sick to wear the heart monitor the cardiologist ordered. I sent it back.
Mon., Dec. 29 – Pain really severe in his neck, back, and shoulder. Right hand was greatly swollen and mostly unusable because of the pain. Went to the family practice doctor. He was stumped about his hand and the other pain. Got more lab work. Still sleeping nearly all the time and extremely ill. Still losing weight and eating little. I think Arnold is a very sick man and he probably should be in a hospital.
Wed., Jan. 2 – Went back to Dr. Meyer family practice doctor for a recheck. He was surprised his hand swelling was gone. His lab work showed some sign on inflammation. Still sleeping way too much. Got results from Lyme Disease test which was normal. He has gotten a lot of tick bites when he working at the farm. Talked to family practice doctor about a prescription from the cardiologist. He was afraid for him to take any anti-clotting drug at this point. He said that was because he might have had a small brain bleed and didn’t want to risk it getting worse. I agreed with that. Regarding an anti-cholesterol prescription, I was very hesitant for him to start that as it can cause side effects, and I didn’t want to confuse the situation any more with further symptoms to try to interpret as to what was causing what. Also, my sister had some rather serious side effects taking it. So, I called the cardiology office to explain why he wasn't taking those prescriptions.
Mon., Jan. 12 – Finally starting to wake up and talk more. He is eating some more, but it is difficult for him. He is probably eating half or less than he used to. He is looking less sick. Since the incident, food hasn’t tasted right—practically no taste except sweetness which is greatly increased (not in a good way). It is hard to eat like that. Gradually food is tasting better but has quite a ways to go to be back to normal. I noticed his normally very neat handwriting has changed significantly for the worse.
Tues., Jan. 20 - He ate the most I have seen him eat at a meal since the incident. He said it actually tasted good. That is first since all this has happened. For about the last week he has been awake much more during the day—a lot like normal. I am beginning to think he will probably have a full recovery. He will have to build up his strength and gain some weight though. He noted the numbness in the right side of his face and mouth is gone. He is improving every day now.
Thurs., Jan. 22 - Went to see Dr. Andrew Gin his neurologist in OKC. He thought he had a stroke. He said he really didn’t think he needed an MRI at this point because he seems close to recovering, but if Arnold wanted one he would order one for him. Arnold declined. I was not surprised. They are really tiring and stressful and he was extremely tired already. It would have been good to see what one would have reported back though on the stroke and status of his post-brain surgery condition. His pulse rate at the neurologist was 39—lowest we have ever measured. His heart rate was very irregular all day. Both of those were worrisome.
Tues., Jan. 27 - Continues to improve. Did a little leaf raking in the yard and realized he was in worse shape physically than he thought. Recently Arnold has been concerned about irregular heart rate and low pulse rate. BP has been low also.
Thurs., Jan. 29 - Saw Dr. Gurley his cardiologist. Discussed all that happened since last visit and got a heart monitor hooked up.
Thurs.-Fri. Jan. 29-30 - Wore 24 hour heart monitor to see what irregular beats might show up including atrial fib. The report showed some irregular heart beats but didn't show any atrial fib. If he wore the monitor for a week or a month, it would be more likely to show up if he is having that sometimes. We might try that again later.
Sat., Jan. 31 - Tried to play tennis with the guys again, but was a big disappointment. He did not play well. He couldn't serve the ball correctly at all. His coordination was not right. He needs to work on that. I told him I thought he should go and practice his serving often. After his first brain surgery he had to retrain his brain to play again, so I believe he can this time if he will work at it. He is still having trouble with food in general not tasting right. He has had some improvement. However, we are really hoping that problem will improve a lot more. I can relate to that myself. Over the years when I have had some illnesses food didn't taste right for awhile. I am hoping it isn't a permanent thing for him now.
Sat., Feb. 7 - I would like to report that the Lord helped to pull him through a very serious illness that could have taken his life or left him very disabled. He is having a much better recovery than I thought he would. He is improving every day and getting almost back to normal.
Sun., March 15 - Another very worrisome event: After lunch he began to feel very dizzy and disoriented. We were very worried about the way he was feeling and we debated going to the ER. Then he was really afraid he might die, which was quite alarming. He has never said that before, even with the brain tumor. He was even apologizing for leaving me with so much responsibility. I told him I am a very tough lady and I could handle it. I didn't know what else to say. We hoped he wasn't trying to have another stroke. His BP was elevated (150/107), pulse 83. I gave him a blood pressure lowering pill at 2:45. He still wouldn't agree to actually go to the hospital. He went to sleep and was feeling some better when he woke up. He was still rather out of it for several days but not nearly as severe as on Sunday. It should be noted the day before on March 14 he played 3 sets of tennis and did pretty well.
Wed., March 18 we went to Dr. Meyer his family practice doctor and we all decided he must have an MRI of his brain to try to see what may be going on.
Thurs., March 26 he had a High Resolution MRI Scan at Norman Regional Hospital. The results showed a very small lesion about (6 x 20 mm.) with some hemorrhage that was unlikely to be tumor, but couldn't be totally ruled out. That was on the left side of his brain. There was no tumor seen on the right side--the side of his previous tumor which was removed by Dr. Paul Francel. Overall we felt that was a positive report. The area of hemorrhage wasn't a total surprise since it was believed he had a stroke the week of Dec. 16, 2014. We will be discussing the report with his doctors very soon.
Sat., March 28 he went to play tennis, but there was a cold wind blowing and he doesn't tolerate cold well any more. He began to feel kind of dizzy and had to call it quits early.
Thurs., April 2 we went to see Arnold's family practice doctor, Dr. Meyer, to discuss the MRI report. He was really puzzled about it. He said all the hemorrhagic strokes he has seen have been pretty big and Arnold's lesion that shows some hemorrhage is tiny. He recommended we go back to the neurologist in OKC to see what he thinks. At least Dr. Meyer was very pleased Arnold is feeling so well now. His lab work was all normal also. We will also see what Arnold's cardiologist says toward the end of the month at a routine appointment. It would be good to get her input. We probably should visit the neurologist again as Dr. Meyer thought it was a good idea.
Sun., April 12 he is back to feeling normal again and played tennis yesterday. He said his game seemed back to normal before all the stroke problems started. He still has some problems with food not tasting right, but we figure he is probably stuck with that and will have to get used to it. He is back to mowing and doing many yard and farm jobs. Thank God for that.
Mon., April 27 we went to see his cardiologist Dr. Gurley. She was pleased the way he was doing. We had a good discussion. She felt like the small lesion on this latest MRI was due to the stroke he had. She was going by what the radiologist said. We agree with her. We still plan to go back to the neurologist to see what he thinks. Arnold is still playing tennis once a week and doing yard and farm work. He helps some around the house and assists me in taking care of cats. He related to me recently that he had to relearn to shave and brush his teeth after the stroke. I didn't know that.
Tues., May 12 we went to see Dr. Gin the neurologist in OKC to see what he thought about his brain MRI. He seemed upbeat and very positive about Arnold. He felt the MRI definitely showed the area of the stroke, a very small lesion about (6 x 20 mm.) with some hemorrhage, not any tumor regrowth which is very good news. He suggested Arnold start taking the low dose "baby" aspirin again every day to help prevent a future stroke. He really didn't know what happened on March 15th with Arnold's dizziness and disorientation which was so upsetting. We just hope he doesn't get it again. It was a good trip with my sister and her husband.
July to Sept. 15, 2015 - appears to be fully recovered from his stroke in July. The only hint of it left left is that most foods taste different and not as good as they used to. He did have to relearn to serve balls in tennis. That was all messed up. His serve appears to be back to normal now. He is doing well in Sept. He does have a little bit of a problem of going to sleep when he sits down on the couch for awhile, especially if he isn't watching TV. I think that is because he sleeps poorly and not very long at night.
March 6, 2016 - Arnold related to me that his sense of taste has really improved from what it was for quite awhile after his stroke. Honestly, I wasn't really expecting any improvement this much later, but it has happened. We are both thankful for that.
Medical Condition Update - Vertigo from Inner Ear Problem and Vestibular Nerve Weakness - Aug. 31 to Sept. 29, 2015
Mon., Aug. 31 - He had a temporary complete hearing loss in his left ear that improved as time went by. We went to see the Dr. Charles Vest, his ENT doctor and he had a hearing test on Sept, 2. He has lost quite a lot of hearing in his left ear compared to the test several years ago. The right ear is about the same.
Tues., Sept. 15 - Around midnight he had a severe dizzy spell which seemed to possibly be brought on when lying down on his left side. He woke up. When he sat up it started to clear up some. He said it felt like his head was spinning round and round. He has been rather unsteady on his feet since that event and I have been doing the driving. He hasn't been able to sleep lying down since that dizzy spell as it starts up again if he lies down. When he bends over it may start up again also. He had to cancel tennis on Sat. On this day (Sept. 15) we went over and he picked up his new hearing aids. He also thinks the hearing loss event was related to the dizziness in his head. I am wondering if it might be an inner ear problem. He looks ill since that event, and he is sleeping about every time he sits down especially to watch TV. Since he is sleeping in a chair at night he isn't sleeping well at that time. The vertigo has been severe. Arnold said he didn't think he could live like that if he had it all the time. He is worried.
We have gone to Dr. Charles Vest on Sept. 21 and Dr. Tre' Landrum, and Dr. Teresa Mazza on Sept. 22. Arnold had a number of rigorous tests on Sept. 24 by Dr. Mazza and as a result will have some physical therapy for the condition. Dr. Landrum and Dr. Mazza believe it is an inner ear problem probably brought on by a viral infection. Less likely cause could be calcium crystals that are dislodged and have migrated into the semicircular canals. Also, Arnold has left sided vestibular nerve weakness.
The PT will be helping the brain to compensate for the vestibular nerve weakness. This should bring a great deal of relief for the problem as time goes by. Also, Arnold has been encouraged to get plenty of exercise and not sit around refraining from movement. Moving as normally as possible encourages the brain to compensate and heal the problem. When there is a problem with an area of the body a person tends to not move as much and "favor" that area. In many cases, like this one, that is really counterproductive. It isn't dangerous or ill advised with this condition to move around, in fact, it is highly encouraged in order to make improvement. So Arnold will be concentrating on doing just about the opposite from what he has been doing.
Tues., Sept. 29 - Here is a surprising update to the inner ear problem causing the vertigo. Arnold went to the physical therapy session today for over an hour and worked with a therapist and helper. For about 2 days prior to this Arnold began telling me he felt like he was over the vertigo problem. I hoped that was true, but I was a little skeptical. I was hoping he wasn't just kidding me.
So, the therapists determined that he was fine and didn't need the therapy. They said he should continue keeping active and playing tennis when he could. He really does seem totally recovered. Some feel it is an answer to prayer. Arnold replied he couldn't explain it any better than that. We are very thankful.
My Thoughts in General Regarding Arnold's Stroke
Thanks so very much to God and all those many people who prayed and sent food when Arnold had his stroke. Actually, in thinking back over everything, I believe God used me (his wife) to be his Guardian Angel in this case. I am a nurse and I was his almost constant care giver when he was so ill. However, he may have had other Guardian Angels I was not aware of.
Through Arnold's illness, God gave me his peace that passes all understanding. Even though things were bad much of the time, I felt sure that no matter what happened, God would take care of us and he did! In the past, I normally would have been incredibly stressed out and not handling things well. This time was different. I just knew God was in charge and things would work out one way or another like they were supposed to.
Arnold back to work at the farm