Preventing another stroke requires lifestyle changes

Preventing another stroke requires lifestyle changes

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By Las Cruces Bulletin Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of profiles telling the stories of stroke survivors throughout May, which is National Stroke Awareness Month. “I was conducting a seminar at my Lodge and – the light just turned out,” Sidney Goddard said. “By that I don’t mean I fell down or anything, I just don’t remember what happened.” Goddard experienced a severe hemorrhagic stroke in December of 2013. He does not remember most of the stroke and recovery period. His wife, Mary, fills in the dark parts of his memory. At the time, Sidney Goddard had been on Coumadin, a blood thinner for his heart, which can cause severe bleeding. He had complained of a headache for several days. Concerned, the Goddards went to their family physician, who sent them to Mountain View Regional Medical Center (MVRMC) for examination. At MVRMC, the doctors identified that Sidney Goddard was having a brain bleed and transported him to an El Paso hospital in an ambulance. That afternoon, doctors performed brain surgery on Sidney Goddard to mitigate the damage the hemorrhage was causing. “He came through the operation fabulously,” Mary Goddard said. “In fact, he said to me as I was walking through the door … ‘Hi honey, how ya doin’? … I’m feeling pretty good.’ And that was the last thing he said to me.” A short time later, Sidney Goddard fell into a coma that lasted for almost two weeks. “My daughter and son were with us the whole time,” Mary Goddard said. “I personally believe that the thing that kept him tied to us was the fact that we didn’t stop talking to him for three or four days.” Sidney Goddard’s recovery process was a long one. After he was released from hospitalization in El Paso, he was in the Advanced Care Hospital of Southern New Mexico for two months and the Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern New Mexico for three more months, followed by outpatient therapy for a few months. “When he arrived (at the Rehabilitation Hospital), all he could do is blink his eyes,” Mary Goddard said. “He couldn’t walk, he couldn’t talk, he couldn’t feed himself. He couldn’t do anything.” Sidney Goddard has made great advances in his recovery – now he walks down the hall of the Rehabilitation Hospital at a comfortable pace and tells his story in a strong voice marked by upbeat humor. “I knew he was on the mend when he sat on the edge of the bed in the rehab and said, ‘Honey, how the hell did I get here?’” Mary Goddard said. “When you say, ‘don’t give up,’ the patient has to give every bit of strength that they have,” Sidney Goddard said. “And they work on it, they will get better. They may not find themselves able to do all that they could have done (before), but on the other hand, with the exception of my inability to spell – for a guy who likes to talk, this really upsets me. But I try to keep working on my vocabulary, keep working on different things.” More than adjusting to differences in the ways he interacts with his environment, he has had to alter his lifestyle, increasing activity and changing his diet. “I’m walking a lot more than I was doing before,” Sidney said. Mary Goddard has been careful to watch the necessary changes in her husband’s diet, not only to prevent another stroke but to cope with additional challenges. “Since this, I found that I have diabetes,” Sidney said. “So I have to make certain lifestyle changes.” The Goddards also keep a close eye on Sidney’s medication, maintaining regular dosage and watching for potential complications. “I become an expert on everything he takes,” Mary Goddard said. Lifestyle changes are important to prevent the risk of a future stroke. According to the Center for Disease Control, one out of four strokes occurs in people who have had a previous stroke. According to the Rehabilitation Hospital, quitting smoking or avoiding secondhand smoke are key changes to reducing your risk. Another important change is improving your eating habits – decrease the amount of fatty foods in your diet, and consume more fruits and vegetables. Increasing your activity level and limiting the amount of alcohol you consume are also important lifestyle choices to prevent a second stroke. Moreover, the professionals at the Rehabilitation Hospital say it is vitally important to maintain regular checkups with your physician to monitor your overall health. Marissa Bond can be reached at 680-1845 or marissa@lascrucesbulletin.com. Sidney Goddard survived a severe hemorrhagic stroke, and has made adjustments to his lifestyle and diet to prevent future strokes. One out of four strokes occurs in people who have previously had a stroke. Lifestyle changes can reduce the chances of having a second stroke. THE REHABILITATION HOSPITAL OF SOUTHERN NEW MEXICO

Marissa Bond

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