On December 3, 2008, I had a catastrophic massive stroke. It was a consequence of the dissection of the carotid artery. It took me a decade to communicate again.
A little bit about Alon
On December 3, 2008, I had a catastrophic massive stroke. It was a consequence of the dissection of the carotid artery. Arterial dissection is well known to be a cause of thrombus formation and subsequent embolization. The carotid artery is likely a result of the blunt force trauma caused by a text-addict who rammed her car into my minivan that I sustained in 2008.
Carotid dissection, and indeed all arterial dissections, can “smolder” for days, weeks, even months. That is to say, the injury to the vessel can occur at one point in time; for example, my seatbelt bruised my aorta in my neck, during the crash, releasing blood clots which swum up and exploded in my left hemispheric brain. I still have a golf-sized hole in my brain.
Challenges that I faced during recovery:
After the stroke, I was not able to speak at all. It took me a decade of work to be able to communicate again. The right side of my body "vanished" in terms of my motor system and my body map in my damaged brain.
Health specialists involved during my rehab and recovery:
Me, myself and I. And, my drill sergeant, an outpatient PT, ten years ago.
What I enjoy doing:
Horseback riding, dancing to the tango, hiking, cooking, napping, doing roadtrips and inventing my prototypes.
I’m the owner of startup neurological design studio called AlonTree Company.
My sources of support:
I am incredibly fortunate to have the strong and ongoing support of my family, community, neighbors and friends. I am also grateful to be able to share my experiences with the stroke community, and to listen to their and their families’ stories.
The highs: What has been most successful in the recovery journey?
I designed and built my own neurological prototypes!
I went to Thailand.... by myself.
I spend time with my daughters.
I dance the tango with several partners.
My horse and I began to gallop.
I pitch my company and my Stroke Warrior manifesto to my audiences.
The lows: What’s missing in the recovery journey and ways it could be overcome?
Failures are stepping stones towards victory!
For example, my AlonTree team had failure after failure designing a glove that stroke survivors can put on and take off, by themselves, one-handed. I realized that stroke people, who have immobility in their hand, do not have functional fingers and thumbs. They have a flipper. Combining those facts, I designed a glove that has fingerlings that can come off, which helps frustrated stroke survivors who want to be better.
My advice to other survivors:
Keeping going on your baby steps, incremental changes lead to bigger changes and achievements. Dark humor, laughing with my family and a bunch friends, crying in the shower and naps in the afternoon are necessary!
My favorite quote:
“Hard work conquers all!” My Ashkenazi-Jewish ancestors in the European medieval ages bore this slogan. It has become part of my company and Stroke Warrior manifesto.
Find out more about AlonTree Co. here