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It was a famous line in the film Casablanca that gave “hill of beans” its notoriety. Humphrey Bogart says to Ingrid Bergman, who’s married to another man, “Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”

I’m having one of “those days” because I wish there was something to do about my stroke. And like Bogart says, the stroke “don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”

Right now, I’d have an operation on my brain if there could be some improvement in my speech, my arm, my leg, any one of the above. Maybe some neurosurgeon could close the hole in my brain with stitches. But I take the blood thinner called Coumadin, and there’s the likelihood of complications like significant bleeding into my brain, especially with stitches. Alas, I have a hole in my head. Please. No LOLs.

In reality, no doctors in their right minds would want to try “it,” i.e. close the hole in my brain caused by dead brain cells that couldn’t regenerate. Cells in the brain just don’t do that once they die. The bleeding causes them to die and I had a hemorrhagic stroke when the clot caused my blood vessel to burst. My stroke anniversary just passed. I had a stroke in April 2009 and I’m tired from it. On the surface, I’m generally pleasing and happy. Below the surface, not so much. Still. Even now.

I’m angry though it never shows, at least to the general public. The bitter side says, “Why me?” The euphoric side says, “Why me?” also. Weren’t you listening? I already told you. I’m having one of those days where floods of memories come back to me even though I attempt to shun them.

A memory of my mother appears right before my eyes. She had a stroke, too, but there were signs years before. Everyone–my mother, her family, her friends–ignored them. She fell every so often when she would become anxious over one thing or another. She probably had a  transient ischemic attack (TIA) which is like a mini stroke, producing like symptoms of a stroke: weaknesses on one side of the body, blurry vision, trouble talking. 

About 1 in 3 people who have a TIA ultimately have a stroke. Then she had the big one, a name that should be only reserved for California earthquakes. But that is what a stroke amounts to–an earthquake in your brain. I feel happier now, for the moment, that I just invented a new phrase for strokes. But then again, happier is relative.

I fell every so often, too, walking along the corridor or on the street. But I’m not a complainer; neither was my mother. So we didn’t do anything about our falling. I attributed my mother’s falling to anxiety; I attributed mine to clumsiness or tight shoes. My mother instilled a fear of doctors in me that was so strong, I screamed when the doctor would touch me in appropriate places so we didn’t take any action on our falling. Or maybe it was the shoes. My mother had enormous bunions. So do I. But I believe the falling was a precursor of the stroke that damaged our lives forever. My mother was in her eighties, but I was 61, the new 41.

That’s enough for memories. I don’t want to spend any more time on them. I can’t; I shouldn’t. I am in the present now. I looked, examined, and researched many ideas–stem cell therapy to make me, even more, mostly whole once again (all the doctors that I researched were fraudulently going after people’s money), the Walkaide and the Bioness to enable people walk more efficiently (I wasn’t a candidate because of my hyper-extended knee), slings that reduce subluxation in my shoulder (I got one from my “friend” on Facebook, but after three months, I didn’t improve any further). I just got the name of a doc who does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. I’ll try that next.

The definition of crazy is when you do the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Maybe I’m crazy. Or maybe I’m hopeful. I’m always searching, and I always reach dead ends. But I still try to find magic in the medical community. Perhaps I’ll blow a hole in that definition of “crazy” yet. 


The weather is heating up, and summer is about 30 days away. But all the seasons the same for me, and just the temperatures are different. The days are consumed by the stroke, searching to find the silver bullet that will make it all, or most of it, or part of it, go away. I’ll take any improvement. My friend calls me Pollyanna, a character in a 1913 novel that turned into a popular term for someone with an optimistic outlook. I say, “How can I NOT be.” Hope and wishes are both traits of Pollyanna.

Today, I’m going to do research on Amazon for pomegranate and chocolate. That’s to take my mind off of the stroke, but only momentarily. I am obsessed with the stroke and who it’s going to hit next. “On average, one American dies from stroke every 4 minutes,” say the Centers for Disease Control, (CDC), and it is a fact. How can I not be obsessed, I scream silently to myself.

Joyce Hoffman

Joyce Hoffman

Joyce Hoffman is one of the world's top 10 stroke bloggers according to the Medical News Today. You can find the original post and other blogs Joyce wrote in Tales of a Stroke Survivor. (https://talesofastrokesurvivor.blog)
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7 thoughts on “Wishes and Hopes: Do They Amount to a Hill of Beans?

  1. Very interesting site. When I have more time I will continue reading your "Tales of a stroke patient."
    Good luck with your recovery in the years ahead.
    I just wanted to share that I am very familiar with the devastating problems of a current stroke, as well as the residual and late effects of stroke, long after SP, OT, and PT.
    My daughter had a massive right sided CVA at the tender age of 19- which was three years ago.
    There was not one risk factor which could have caused her to have a stroke.
    She was later found to have a PFO which is the only conclusion that could be reached, as to why she had a stroke- which in her case is diagnosed as a cryptogenic right sided thrombotic CVA.

    Thank you for sharing your stroke journey.

    ~ Pam

  2. Thanks for sharing again Joyce. I belong to a programme (another one!) that has a famous passage about Acceptance being the key, and focusing on gratitude and taking things one day at a time. All sounds a bit trite but when I feel overwhelmed with the fogginess of it all, it serves to remind me about how it REALLY is- as opposed to how my fatigued old brain THINKS it is.. Hang on in there and keep up your writing. You just never know who may read it and take hope from it!! And if you ever need/ want to reach out and talk, I'd be more than happy (via email or skype or whatever!)

  3. Thank you for sharing. Remember…3 out of 4 survive, like you!! You are still here for a reason. Be strong. <3 love you. Sue Nowak

  4. Yes, I have done the research trying to find the silver bullet that will enable me to recover and be the woman I would have been @ 62 if I had not had a stroke. I did the Stem Cell treatment, and au$42,000 later, I do not feel that I am any less a stroke victim than before. I have done the HBOT and 3 [email protected] au$1700, I am no better except that I watched a movie that I had always wanted to see, but, now cannot even remember the title. Believed the snake oil sales sites and paid hundreds of dollars for the miracle vitamin that would end the chronic fatigue and give me back my incredible, or even an average, memory.
    I am just plain tired of being a stroke victim, of the rest of society seeing me as sub human, of never doing the things that I always dreamed of doing, the way I dreamed of doing them (I could still, now, go on a bus tour of Britain with a bunch of other disabled people using a wheelchair to get around the old buildings, instead of exploring on foot, & with a companion who is the type of person I would like to travel with). But doing stuff as a disabled person does not sound exciting or stimulating. I would do better to sit at home and watch a documentary about Machu Pichu or the pyramids and not have to limp around to not see everything that I want to se. This is not the destiny I dreamed of,

  5. Maree, when did you have the stroke? I guess recently, no longer than 3 years ago. It calls for a grieving process and one model offers acceptance is the last of 5 stages. I tried many things, too, to make me better, but I have come to the point where the grieving process is totally inescapable. You have to through all the stages, some people longer than others, to reach acceptance.

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