I Survived: You and Your Family Can Too

Dear Readers,

You have not heard from me since January because I had a major stroke.  It was most probably January 19th, but I was found and taken by ambulance to Harborview Medical Center on January 21st. I was in assisted living from February 11 to March 2nd when I returned home, with care.  It is a miracle I am alive. By all rights I should be dead.  But I’m not.

Ironically I was working on all the pieces I should have had in place before the stroke. I now have them in place.  You should have them as well if you live alone or have family and friends who do.

I am just flat out miraculously lucky. I have friends who worried when I had not called back or returned e-mails for a day or so—“that’s not like Kathleen.”  A friend called a friend who called the manager of the complex where I live.  The manager found me and I gather I was every shade of purple, green and blue that can be imagined.  I was lying on the floor and luckily still, but barely, breathing.  By all rights I should be dead. By all rights I should not be able to write this at all.

I know other people who live alone.  One fell.  He was seen on Tuesday but did not come to a couple to meetings he never missed.  Friends called his manager who found him dead on Friday.  He had fallen and had died from sepsis.  This does not need to happen.

If you are over 60 and live alone you can protect yourself:  1) get a signal necklace or other device to alert others if you fall or have pain in your chest; 2) have someone designated as power of attorney (POA) for medical decisions if you cannot act or speak for yourself; 3) have HIPPA clearance for family and friends who can speak for you if you cannot, otherwise no one can speak or advocate for you when you cannot;  4) complete an Advance Directive so friends and doctors know what you do and don’t want to happen to you medically if you are in an accident or are seriously ill.

There’s more, but I will stop for now. These are good places to start.  Small steps can save lives—yours or someone else’s.

So, dear readers, I am not going away.  I will continue writing but just not as frequently.  And with a new and different lens.   Thank you for your long-standing support.

Kathleen O’Connor © March 14, 2014  And a Happy St. Patrick’s Day (published 3/17/2014)

About Kathleen

Kathleen O’Connor: 30+ year health care consumer advocate, non-profit executive and author. For more information about Kathleen, please see "About" on the main content bar above.
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5 Responses to I Survived: You and Your Family Can Too

  1. Alan Singer says:

    So glad you’re doing better! I am shocked and overjoyed you’re OK! Thank you for the advice!

  2. Bob Ness says:

    Hello Kathleen…so sorry to hear of your stroke, but so happy to hear that you were found, got some treatment and are on the mend…STILL WITH US!


  3. Gerald W. Roller says:

    Your have always been rather “tough”, and this just is another way of proving the point! I am very happy to hear from you, and especially after this incident happened. Do they know the exact cause….blood vessel rupture, or closure? Or,
    was there a problem with the flow of blood from the heart to the head?
    There is still plenty for you to write about….comment upon. It doesn’t get better, just charges emphasis from time to time. Our MD son has to spend about 1/2 day in the week on paperwork….not seeing patients. We had a lot, but not quite that much. The new insurance may help some, but it may affect adversally
    those persons in the margin of income!
    Keep on with your activities…let me know if I can help.. Gerald Roller

  4. Janice camp says:

    So sorry to hear about your stroke!! Would love to catch up when you have time and energy.

  5. Sue linnell says:

    Kathleen so glad to hear you are doing better. So sorry this happened to you. You certainly tell a wake up call. Take care!

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