In answering the question in this title, I highly doubt that jerky was the direct cause of my stroke. However, who knows at the end of the day, but most likely not. The doctors performed multiple tests (Computed Topography, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Echocardiogram, Electrocardiogram), and never could come up with an exact cause. I will be tested again next month to see how my body is reacting to all of these various medications that I find myself on now.
Just to recap how events unfolded. It was a Thursday evening around 7:30pm when I first started to notice that I had difficulty controlling the right hand side of my body. Shortly afterwards, I understood it was a stroke, but I was in disbelief. I was too young being less than two months away from my 50th birthday. Besides, I had stuff to do at work the next day, and had plans for the weekend. Somehow I managed to hide the stroke from my family that night. Men have since confided to me that they would do the same idiotic thing. A little after midnight, I looked at myself in the mirror to see if there was any signs of drooping in my face, which there was not. I was tired of coping with the stroke all night, and I was determined to ride it out in the hopes that the stroke may go away on its own, which of course it did not.
After a lousy night of mostly getting no sleep, I woke up at 7:30am on Friday morning like I normally would, and took a shower. My wife Stephanie immediately became suspicious, because of all the noise I was making dragging my body around. Once I got out of the shower with Stephanie already being quite concerned, she immediately called an ambulance realizing that I was suffering a stroke. Soon afterwards I was whisked over to the hospital, where I ended up staying there for four nights.
After a few hours of being in the hospital, I was already feeling much, much better. I was given a blood thinner and who knows what other medications. Because I had waited so long, I missed the three hour window to help alleviate a stroke without any permanent brain damage. I already felt that I had physically regained to at least 85% of my former self. Later that afternoon, I was given a series of tests to complete. I felt that I more or less aced every test, but really struggled with two things. One was straddling a straight line, where I would lose my balance. Second was writing, where I am right handed, and I had a hard time judging how much pressure to put on the pen to write properly.
Being stuck in a hospital, there is not much to do. I was intent on getting myself back to 100%, and started practicing, or rehabilitating. I averaged doing about six 30 minutes walks a day. Plus I practiced writing my signature and straddling a straight line, where by day 2, I felt that I had recovered to at least 90%. By day 3, I could straddle a straight line and write my signature with no problem. By the time I left the hospital, I felt that I had completely recovered 100% physically. Mentally, apart from maybe possibly having a harder time with memory recall, I felt that I was never compromised a single bit.
Once I returned home from the hospital, I felt fit enough to return back to work. However, I decided to take advantage of my short term disability, and took an extra week off work. I ended up returning to my full-time IT job two weeks and a day after the stroke.
Leading up to the stroke, I had gone through a stressful move. But that more or less was behind me, where we had just finally completed the sale of our house two weeks earlier, and had been settled into our new home for over a month.
I had been quite distraught with this jerky review web site, where the site had been broken for near three weeks. I had really no idea how the web site stopped working. After several attempts to fix the web site, I was having no success. Thoughts started to creep into my mind to just reluctantly pack it in with the jerky review web site, and call it a good run. Then the stroke happened, and upon returning home, I really bore down to figure out the root problem. I finally discovered that the web site had inadvertently been upgraded, and some of my code was no longer supported. I spent about 60 hours over the next two weeks fixing all of this old deprecated code, taking full advantage of the time off work. If there was any silver lining to having a stroke, this was it, where the jerky reviews live on. After all it was only January 2019 that the Jerky Shrine was debuted.
Initially when I had the stroke, I wanted to die of embarrassment. I was not exactly a high risk stroke patient. If anything I am slim being 6 feet tall and weighing 165 pounds. Word traveled fast across all four corners of the world that “Mark had a stroke”. Then comes the question of why me, where I could name dozens of people who would appear to be at a higher risk of getting a stroke. Eventually you are forced to accept the fact that it happened to yourself. Then the question becomes what you are going to do about it.
First thing was to find myself a family doctor, where I had never visited a doctor once in my adult life for a physical. About once every year or two I would measure my blood pressure at a local drug store, where it always seemed to be at normal levels. On the day of the stroke, my blood pressure was measured at 138/80. A 125/80 reading is more normal for me. Regardless if I had high blood pressure or not, I am now forced to take a high blood pressure pill for the rest of my life, along with a blood thinner and cholesterol pill grudgingly.
Now I had been a heavy smoker most of my life, where thankfully I had quit on January 2/2018. In regards to drinking, I enjoy my beer just as much as anyone, and probably much more. I never did get into the habit of drinking liquor, where I have since cut down on my beer consumption.
Growing up I had been very physically active and athletic. In the last dozen years or so, I mostly relied on my regular exercise to be playing volleyball 1-3 times a week, which I knew was not nearly enough. I used to scoff at people who went for walks, where I hardly considered walking to be exercise. Now I have a daily walk at work. By far and away the biggest beneficiary of my stroke is our Jerky Ingredients mascot Lexi. I have resumed taking Lexi for a daily walk, and she could not be happier exploring our still somewhat new beautiful neighborhood. Lexi went from a 15-20 minute daily walk with my son to 60 minute walks with me.
In regards to my diet, it was not bad prior to the stroke, but could stand to improve. I have resumed making green smoothies on weekends, where I had stopped after putting my house on the market in the fall. The three S’s continue on in my life (Soup/Salad/Smoothies).
For the last 10 years or so not counting jerky, I have tried to avoid eating meat for breakfast and lunch, which is easier said than done. Of course in reviewing jerky, there is the salt factor that reportedly contributes to high blood pressure. Prior to the stroke we had been averaging publishing three jerky reviews a week. Typically, we would receive minimum one ounce per flavor between Paul, Stephane and I, but often more. Regardless, I have since started scaling back the jerky reviews to twice a week, where it had been challenging enough anyway publishing three jerky reviews a week while maintaining a full-time job.
There is a doctor (Joseph Mercola) who I had been receiving his daily newsletters for many years now. He has suggested that vitamin D and magnesium deficiencies are likely contributors to having a stroke. With me living in a cold climate country such as Canada, it’s a guarantee that I am vitamin D deficient. I have since started taking two 1000 IU vitamin D supplements in both the morning and night. Also added is a magnesium supplement both in the morning and evening. It’s a start, where more research is required on my part.
There is another doctor (Bill Sardi) that I follow online and quite respect. He wrote that high iron levels age you faster. I know for a fact that I have high iron levels, and eating jerky certainly contributes to that. While I am still in the research phase, I want to find a natural iron chelator to reduce the iron levels in my body. I plan on getting my vitamin and mineral levels tested at my next visit to the doctor.
I honestly felt that I had recovered physically 100% from the stroke, but I was humbled when I returned to volleyball after March break. Who knew how much hand and eye coordination is required to serve a ball overhand. I was missing over half of my serves badly, and looked like a stroke patient on the court. I had to relearn that skill, and the following week, I successfully got 13 out of 14 serves over the court.
People have since asked me what the warning signs of a stroke are. Trust me, you will know. An unbelievably intense force grips your body, essentially at least in my case partially paralyzing half of your body. You struggle to work through it, getting increasingly frustrated with your body’s inability to react normally. Trying to curse it away of course does nothing. Experiencing a stroke is a most unpleasant and annoying feeling, one which you would not wish on your worst enemy.
Easily the biggest challenge to deal with since the stroke is temporarily losing my driver’s license. At least in the province of Ontario, your license is suspended a minimum of 30 days. I patiently waited 30 days before getting the doctor to fill out the necessary medical forms to get my driver’s license back, where I was given a clean bill of health by my newly acquired family doctor. Just recently my medical record was approved by the Ministry of Transportation, where the next step is to receive further outstanding licensing requirements. Just bring it on, whatever it takes to get my license back, where it cannot happen fast enough. While my family has been very good in driving me around, it drives me up the bend being dependent on other people.
I had what they call an ischemic stroke, which is how 88% of strokes are caused. Plaque builds up in a blood vessel to your brain, and eventually blocks normal blood flow causing a stroke. Another term for a stroke is a brain attack. The million dollar question for me now is what caused that plaque.
Less than a week after my stroke, the actor Luke Perry from the 90’s television show Beverly Hills 90210 suffered a massive stroke. Unfortunately, Luke succumbed to his stroke five days later, but he really brought a lot of attention to strokes in young people. That’s all I heard in the hospital from doctors and nurses, that strokes are becoming more and more common in people under 50.
So what compelled me to write about this? First, writing for me is therapeutic to deal with issues that I do not understand. Second, people have genuinely appreciated me sharing my story with them. It serves as a reminder to other people to take note of their own health. The last thing I want to do in writing this post is illicit sympathy from people. I had the stroke and you move on, where thankfully I survived except my bruised ego. The reactions between men and women have been polar opposite. With men it’s how are you doing? Good, and how are you doing? Good, and that’s it. Women want to know every last detail of what happened.
Just this weekend I celebrated my 50th birthday, introducing some new friends (co-workers) to my old friends and family. It was a special time that I will remember for the rest of my life. Making further changes in my life is a still a work in progress. I had already planned before moving into our new house to make my new basement a work out area, which will now include an exercise bike. As the old saying goes, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.
I Had A Stroke, Was Eating Jerky A Cause? was last modified: September 28/2019 by