Mike Coane


On the sixth anniversary of his stroke Mike writes...


In December 1996, while sitting at my desk at home in Germany at about 8:20PM and smoking what proved to be my last cigarette, my left hand went numb. I had no idea what was happening to me since I knew less that nothing about stroke. I then realized my dog hadn't been fed, so I went downstairs to the kitchen falling down the last third of the spiral staircase when my left leg went numb. I couldn't reach our doctor, so I called my neighbors, and they came over and called an ambulance, which took me to the local hospital.


Since the local hospital didn't have a neurology department, a staff internist ordered the first of several CTs. It was determined that I had had a stroke. The next day I was transferred to the stroke clinic of a hospital about 20 miles away, where I was attached to a machine, which would slowly drip heparin into my arm for the next several weeks. I started PT almost immediately.


The neighbors called mutual friends and explained what had happened, and that my wife was on a business trip to Nuremberg. The friends started calling hotels in Nuremberg until they found my wife who then hurried to the hospital. She also called my parents who were wintering in their Florida home. They flew home to Chicago to get some winter clothes and then flew to Germany to see me. My daughters, who were in Milan at the time, also came.


Then after about five weeks in the hospital during which I had the pleasure of some very uncomfortable tests including several more CTs, an echocardiagram, an angiogram and an MRI, it was determined that I was ready to go to rehab. Application was made at one of the best rehabs in Germany at which I was accepted. In anticipation of this move, I was weaned from the heparin machine and given an oral anticoagulant named Marcumar. Coumidin, which is usually used in the US, in not that popular here. Then after a few days, the MRI detected a slight hemorrhage in my pareital lobe -- not uncommon when weaning from heparin to an oral anticoagulant -- so they decided to wait before transferring me to rehab.


Then the day after the Superbowl in 1997, I was transferred to rehab where I spent several hours a day doing physical and occupational therapy. Finally in early April they determined that I was ready to go out into the world. So, I left rehab in mid-April and came home to daily bouts of PT (4x per week, 1x in a pool) and OT (1x per week). This rather massive infusion of therapy has taken me to the point that I have almost full control of my left arm, although the fine motor control of my left hand is less than ideal, and I can walk almost anywhere unaided, although not very elegantly.


I'm now doing PT 4 times a week (no more pool), and despite the allegations of almost everyone in the stroke rehabilitation industry, I still feel that I have some room for improvement. I'm also able to drive a car with automatic transmission. I wouldn't have achieved anywhere near my current status were it not for the support of my wife, doctors, therapists, neighbors and friends.



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