The Truth About the COVID-19 Vaccine and Stroke! Plus, how to do your Research

More than a million people in the United States have been killed by COVID-19 in the past 3 years. The numbers would be much higher, but the vaccines were developed with amazing speed. Time and again, the vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective.

Yet some people persist in claiming the mRNA vaccines are causing an epidemic of stroke.

The data is clear. They do not. If you want to reduce your chances of stroke, get the vaccine.

The new thing that causes stroke over the past few years is COVID-19 itself. If you want to decrease your chances of having a stroke (or another stroke) don't get a severe COVID-19 infection. And the simplest thing you can do to reduce your chances of getting a severe COVID-19 infection is to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

If you do catch COVID-19 despite the vaccine, the data shows it will be much less severe and much less likely to be fatal. 

In addition to protecting yourself, you are also helping to protect others who may not be medically eligible to get the vaccine.

The COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are saving lives every day.

In this episode ...

In this episode, I talk with data scientist and epidemiologist Dr. Remle Crowe about the research studies coming out now that show what we already knew from earlier research: the COVID-19 vaccine does not increase your risk stroke.

We talk about several studies, and we talk about how you can do your own research on the credibility of these studies and evaluate how well they reflect the scientific reality of our world.

In this post, you'll also find links to a bunch of these studies that you can read for yourself.

Start by listening to this conversation. If you don't seed the audio player below visit http://Strokecast.com/MSN/vaccine to listen to the whole conversation.


Bill Monroe wears a red T-Shirt and is in need of a shave. One sleeve is rolled up to reveal two bandaids on his upper arm over a tattoo of a brain.I got my Bivalent COVID-19 booster and my 2022 Flu shot on the same day in October.

Who is Dr. Remle Crowe?

Dr. Remle Crowe stands in front of a blurred office background wearing a white blouse and blue blazer

Dr. Remle Crowe is an expert in EMS research and quality improvement. From truck clutches to clinical care, she has shown how research and improvement science work to solve problems across fields. Prior to earning a PhD in Epidemiology, her EMS career began with the Red Cross in Mexico City as a volunteer EMT. She has authored numerous peer-reviewed publications related to prehospital care and the EMS workforce. Now, as a research scientist with ESO, Dr. Crowe routinely uses EMS data to improve community health and safety.

Dr. Crowe previously appeared on the Strokecast in episode 132 to discuss the AHORA pneumonic to help Spanish speakers recognize and respond to a stroke. When it comes to stroke, Time is Brain regardless of which language you speak.

A Sampling of the Studies

When we claim the data indicates that the vaccine doesn't cause an increase in stroke, what data are we talking about? How did "they" analyze it? Who reviewed the studies to ensure they were accurate? Where can you read the details yourself?

As Dr. Crowe explained, there are currently a whole bunch of studies that are coming out. That makes sense; it's roughly 18 months since the vaccines against COVID-19 became widely available. To conduct sound research, you need a large pool of people to look at. You need to take some time to see the results. You need to write up those results. Then you need to submit them for publication. Publications will then need to review before publishing them.

That brings us to where we are today with all these studies now becoming available. Let's take a look at a few of them, and I encourage you to click through to the details and read them yourself. Click the study titles for more.

Surveillance for Adverse Events After COVID-19 mRNA Vaccination

This study published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) looked at nearly 12 million doses of the mRNA vaccine given to more than 6 million people.

This is what they learned:

"The incidence of events per 1 000 000 person-years during the risk vs comparison intervals for ischemic stroke was 1612 vs 1781 "

In other words, the time period at greatest risk for stroke did not see an increased risk.

They concluded:

"In interim analyses of surveillance of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, incidence of selected serious outcomes was not significantly higher 1 to 21 days postvaccination compared with 22 to 42 days postvaccination. While CIs were wide for many outcomes, surveillance is ongoing."

COVID-19 Incidence and Death Rates Among Unvaccinated and Fully Vaccinated Adults with and Without Booster Doses During Periods of Delta and Omicron Variant Emergence — 25 U.S. Jurisdictions, April 4–December 25, 2021

We talked about this report from the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report during the episode.

This study looked at infections and deaths among vaccinated folks and unvaccinated folks. The rate of infection and death from COVID-19 was much higher among unvaccinated folks than among vaccinated or vaccinated and boosted folks.

The report says:

"Rates of COVID-19 cases were lowest among fully vaccinated persons with a booster dose, compared with fully vaccinated persons without a booster dose, and much lower than rates among unvaccinated persons during October–November (25.0, 87.7, and 347.8 per 100,000 population, respectively) and December 2021 (148.6, 254.8, and 725.6 per 100,000 population, respectively) (Table 2). Similar trends were noted for differences in the mortality rates among these three groups (0.1, 0.6, and 7.8 per 100,000 population, respectively) during October–November."

Even though the vaccine does not guarantee a person will avoid COVID-19, it greatly increases their chances of avoiding infection. And if they do become infected, the vaccine greatly increases their chances of survival.

Acute ischemic stroke and vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia post COVID-19 vaccination; a systematic review

This study in the Journal of Neurological Sciences looked throughout the published literature and found just 43 incidents of stroke following the vaccine administration.

"AIS has been reported as a rare complication within 4 weeks post COVID-19 vaccination, particularly with viral vector vaccines. Health care providers should be familiar with this rare consequence of COVID-19 vaccination in particular in the context of VITT to make a timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan."

The report specifically called out the risk of “viral vector vaccines” (and, again, it’s a shockingly small risk). The most common viral vector COVID-19 vaccines are those from Johnson & Johnson and from Oxford-AstraZeneca.

The mRNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer are not viral vector vaccines., indicating that those appear to be even safer.

The recommendation is not to avoid vaccination. It's an extremely rare complication. The recommendation is to watch for signs of stroke, which is something we should be doing all the time anyway.

Association Between Vaccination and Acute Myocardial Infarction and Ischemic Stroke After COVID-19 Infection

This article, published in JAMA looked at what happens after a COVID-19 infection for both vaccinated and unvaccinated folks. If someone does get infected and, does their vaccination status reduce the impacts of infection? Yes, it does.

In fact, folks who got the vaccine and the got COVID were LESS likely to have a stroke or heart attack after their COVID infection.

"This study found that full vaccination against COVID-19 was associated with a reduced risk of AMI [heart attack] and ischemic stroke after COVID-19. The findings support vaccination, especially for those with risk factors for cardiovascular diseases."

Risk of thrombocytopenia and thromboembolism after covid-19 vaccination and SARS-CoV-2 positive testing: self-controlled case series study

This study in the UK looked at patients who had been infected with COVID-19 or who had received the vaccine. More than 30 million people were part of the study. The conclusions were clear:

"Increased risks of haematological and vascular events that led to hospital admission or death were observed for short time intervals after first doses of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 and BNT162b2 mRNA vaccines. The risks of most of these events were substantially higher and more prolonged after SARS-CoV-2 infection than after vaccination in the same population."

Even if there is a slight risk from vaccination, the risk from the actual disease is much higher.

COVID-19 vaccine not linked to increased risk of stroke

Not all research becomes available without a subscription. Researchers at Cedars-Sinai have found similar results to other studies though and have come to the same conclusion.

"Newly compiled data evaluated by researchers in the Department of Neurology and the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai shows that COVID-19 vaccines do not raise stroke risk--but that severe COVID-19 infection does. Physician-scientists hope this growing body of evidence, highlighted today in an editorial in the peer-reviewed journal Neurology, will ease the minds of individuals still hesitant to be vaccinated."

Risk of Myocarditis After Sequential Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine and SARS-CoV-2 Infection by Age and Sex

We talked about this study in the conversation with Dr. Crowe. At first glance it is concerning. This is the conclusion:

"Overall, the risk of myocarditis is greater after SARS-CoV-2 infection than after COVID-19 vaccination and remains modest after sequential doses including a booster dose of BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine. However, the risk of myocarditis after vaccination is higher in younger men, particularly after a second dose of the mRNA-1273 vaccine."

That does seem scary for young men, and there are a couple things to keep in mind.

First, the number of events was so small that it's tough to draw firm conclusions. When you get down to such low numbers, that stats can do weird things.

Second, this was based on the adverse event reporting system. That does not prove causality. It just flags something to look at more closely if there are large numbers. Which there are not.

The point of all this research, though, is to learn more and compile more and more evidence. And ultimately to let the body of evidence guide decision making and recommendations.

What we know at this point is that the risk of stroke after a COVID-19 infection is much higher than the risk of stroke following a vaccination.

And the risk of stroke after COVID-19 infection is much lower in folks that have been vaccinated than it is in those who have not been vaccinated.

COVID-19 is not gone. It is still out there in the world infecting people, killing people, and giving people strokes.

Billions of vaccinations later, this is what the data tells us.

The simplest way to reduce your risk of stroke is to get the vaccine and stay boosted.

Do Your Own Research

We talked about a bunch of research in the podcast, and we looked at a bunch of reports above. You don't have to just accept my commentary or Dr. Crowe's. You can read the reports yourself and look at the data and see why the vast majority of medical professionals have concluded the vaccines are safe and effective.

Dr. Crowe offered a number of tips to help you do your research. You'll find them and more in this list.

Tip 1

Search research focused search engines and directories to find studies and resources. Google Scholar and PubMed are great places to start.

Tip 2

Look at the Publication that publishes the research. Is it well known for scientific rigor? Does it have a strong requirement for peer review of articles? Or can someone publish in it by simply paying a fee?

Tip 3

Search for the publication's Impact Factor. The more other publications that cite its work, the higher the number. A publication with a higher impact factor is likely more credible.

Tip 4

When you get to the actual study, look at what type it is. If it was a case study, that's interesting. If it was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study on a large scale, that's even better. If it was a systemic review evaluating hundreds of other studies, that's stronger still.

Tip 5

Look at how many people were part of the study. A few dozen is interesting. A few million is much more likely to yield credible results.

Tip 6

Look at the results of the study, relative to the size of the study. A few results out of a dozen is one thing. A few results out of millions of subjects is another matter altogether.

Tip 7

Look at the goal of the study. What were the authors hoping to demonstrate? Did they succeed? Why or why not?

Tip 8

Consider confounding. Studies generally deal with a subset of the population -- a limited number of people -- and seek to extrapolate those results and draw conclusions about the broader population.  For those conclusions to be valid, though, the group studied needs to be similar to the group the study extrapolates to. The more different the groups are, the less reliable the results.

Tip 9

Finally, does the study demonstrate causality or just coincidence? There’s a reason folks will often say, “Correlation does not equal causation.” For example, the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) Public Dashboard is a collection of negative things that happen to a person after they get a vaccine. It's not a list of events caused by the vaccine. If a person gets hit by a bus after getting the vaccine, that can go in the database. It's an adverse event. That doesn't mean the vaccine caused the bus accident. Read the study carefully to see if the authors claim a causal relationship and if that relationship is supported by the evidence in the study.


The last time Dr. Crowe was on the show was to talk about the AHORA messaging to help Spanish speakers recognize and respond to stroke. It's basically the equivalent of the BEFAST messaging we talk about a lot in English.

Here is the stroke warning pneumonic device in Spanish. Download it and share it far and wide.

A graphic of the AHORA pneumonic device to help spanish speakers recognize a stroke.Reconocer los signos de un accidente cerebrovascular y responder rápidamente. ¡Llame a una ambulancia si observa estas señales!

Let’s look at a translation.

Letter Abbreviation for Spanish Description In English
A Andar Tiene dificultad para andar? Tiene problemas con el equilibrio? Do they have difficulty walking? Do they have problems with balance?
H Hablar Tiene dificultad para hablar o entender? Usa palabras que no tienen sentido? Do they have difficulty speaking or understanding language? Do they use words that don't make sense?
O Ojos Tiene algün cambio de vista? Tiene visiön doble? Tiene dificultad para ver con ambos ojos? Do they have some change in vision? Do the have double vision? Do they have difficulty seeing with both eyes?
R Rostro Tiene la mitad del rostro caido? Tiene un repentino dolor de cabeza como nunca se ha sentido? Do they have one-sided facial droop? Do they suddenly have the worst headache of their life?
A Ambos Brazos Tiene dificultad para levantar un brazo o una pierna? Tiene debilidad en un brazo o una pierna? Do they have difficulty lifting an arm or a leg? Do they have weakness in an rm or a leg?

And, of course, here is the BE FAST messaging for English speakers.

Stroke symptom graphic highlighting BE FAST (Sudden change in Balance, Eyesight, Facial symmetry, Arm control or speech/language means it is time to call and ambulance),Recognize the signs of a stroke and respond quickly. Call an ambulance if you observe these signs!

Both sets of symptoms look for the same thing. The AHORA messaging includes legs and headaches. The BE FAST messaging specifically calls out calling an ambulance.

Regardless, the more people that can recognize a stroke as it is happening, the better off we will all be.

Pop Culture Moment

During the conversation, Remle mentioned she is a big fan of the movie Sliding Doors. It's an examination of how simple moment can change the course of your life. What path lies ahead if we catch that train or miss it?


Or what happens if we turn right instead of turning left?


In reflecting on the past, it's easy to get fixated on thing were so much better back then, but it's never that simple, is it? Billy Joel reminds us that:

"The good old days weren't always good, and tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems."


Other Shows

Journal Club

Remle mentioned her show, PCRF Journal Club, which is a journal review webinar that meets each month. They go deep into looking at the latest research studies that are coming out. The focus is on research around EMS -- the ambulance and transport industry.

If you'd like to learn more, check out its site here: https://www.cpc.mednet.ucla.edu/pcrf

Successful and Disabled

I was also recently featured on another podcast focused on being successful as a person with disabilities.

I joined host Christ Mitchell on the Successful and Disabled podcast to share my story and discuss how I use mindset to drive my recovery and other goals in life.

Listen to it here. If you don't see the audio player below, visit http://Strokecast.com/MSN/Vaccine to listen to the conversation:

Hack of the Week

Reading a paper book can be challenging with one functional hand. It's even harder if you try to do that while eating a meal. Why? Because books don't always want to stay open on their own. You have to hold them open, which makes it harder to pick up your cheeseburger.

I use my phone to address this problem. I open the book and then lay my phone across the open pages. It's just heavy enough to keep the book from snapping shut so I can enjoy feeding my belly as I also enjoy feeding my mind.

Give it a try.


 Where do we go from here?

  • Check out the links above to learn more about why getting the vaccine is safer than not getting the vaccine
  • Share this episode with someone you know by giving them the link http://Strokecast.com/vaccine
  • Do you have a recent win or victory in your recovery? Share it by calling 321-5 STROKE
  • Get your vaccine and booster to protect against COVID if your doctor advises it
  • Don't get best…get better

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Walking with Electric Pants

A minor electric signal is all it takes to move a couple hundred pounds of human.

When we walk, the brain sends a signal through the spine to the individual muscles of the legs, feet, and core to manage the complex orchestra of contraction and relaxation that makes balance and walking possible. After stroke, the brain may stop sending all or some of those signals. That breaks the ability to walk. It happened to me and millions of others.

There is nothing wrong with my leg, though. The muscles, joints, tendons and nerves in my leg, foot, and core are all still there and as fully functional as they were before the stroke. They're just waiting for he signal from my brain which, in the beginning, never came.

Rehab was about getting the brain to send that signal again. And it started sending some of it. It's not as complete as it used to be. Or as strong. But it's enough that I can walk with my cane and brace well enough, and not quite as well without my aids.

But, again, it's a brain issue, not a leg issue. If you can send a signal to those muscles without the brain, can you effectively get those muscles to move and walk more effectively? Yes you can.

That's what Neural Sleeve from Cionic does.

In this episode, I speak with Cionic CEO and founder Jeremiah Robinson about the Neural Sleeve, why it works, how stroke survivors can learn more, and how his daughter inspired this product.

If you don't see the audio player below, visit http://Strokecast.com/ElectricPants to listen to the conversation.


Who is Jeremiah Robinson?

Jeremiah Robinson is seen from the shoulders up in a white bitton down shirt with a faint plaid patter smiling in an open office floor space

Jeremiah Robison is the Founder and CEO of CIONIC, an innovative company that builds lightweight and durable bionic clothing driven by powerful algorithms that adapt in real time to each individual's mobility needs.

He started the company in 2018 after his daughter was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and he was frustrated at the lack of effective technology available to help improve her mobility. Four years later, CIONIC introduced the breakthrough, FDA-cleared Cionic Neural Sleeve, the first product to combine sensing, analysis and augmentation into a wearable garment.

Prior to CIONIC, Jeremiah spent twenty years at the intersection of data, algorithms, and the human body, driving innovation in sensing and machine learning at Apple, Openwave Systems, Slide, and Jawbone. Jeremiah has a BS and MS in Computer Science from Stanford University.

Jeremiah's daughter

Jeremiah's daughter, Sophie, was apparently in a rush to meet this amazing world. She was born early, weighing just 2 pounds, 4 ounces. She developed Cerebral Palsy in the process.

Cerebral Palsy (CP) and stroke are similar conditions. In fact, as Dr. Heather Fullerton explained in episode 49 ( http://Strokecast.com/PediatricStroke) roughly 50% of CP is caused by stroke in utero or shortly after birth. CP is the result of not enough oxygen getting to the right part of the brain at the right time of development. Brain cells die or don't develop or don't form the right networks the way they should. As a result, a child can develop any number of challenges around mobility, speech, dexterity, and more. Just like adults (and other children) with stroke.

The damage from stroke in the brain is also, in part, due to lack of oxygen getting to the right parts when they need it due to a disruption in the blood supply.

Stroke survivors have a lot in common with our neuro cousins in the CP and MS communities, to name a few.

Jeremiah talks about wanting to help Sophie with her gait, as any parent would. Jeremiah was in a position to do something about it, and the Neural Sleeve comes from that experience.

Sophie herself is now 12 years old and has developed a presence on Instagram with the family's nonprofit at @WAWOSORG. Sophie shares her own inspirational tips and exercise strategies for other kids with CP or other disabilities.

View this profile on Instagram

WAWOS (@wawosorg) • Instagram photos and videos


FES stands for Functional Electric Stimulation. I talked about the technology in more detail in episode 92 - Electrodes and a Stationary Bike — FES for Stroke Treatment.

I've used eStim in therapy while I was inpatient and then at home, too. Devices are available on Amazon for $30-$50.* You put 2-4 electrodes on an arm or leg, roughly at either end of a muscle. The AA battery powered unit sends a minor electric signal to the electrode. The nerves at the end of the muscle detect it and think the brain is sending the signal. The nerve then contracts or relaxes the muscle.

The muscle is doing the actual work. It can be a great way to help an affected limb get some exercise, stretch some tendons, and generally not waste away. In the shoulder, it can even treat subluxation.

FES is the next level of eStim. Instead of just making the muscle move, it makes it, and other muscles move much more precisely to accomplish a specific function. In the case of Restorative Therapies, this was to coordinate movement to drive rahab.


Some of the more well-known FES devices are those from Bioness and Walkaide. They specifically stimulate the muscles that lift our toes (the dorsiflexors) to eliminate foot drop while walking. They are an alternative to an AFO. The look like a cuff that a person wears just below the knee. They work great for some folks, but not all. They're also not typically covered by insurance.

I tried them both earlier in my post-stroke life. The Walkaide worked better on my gait, but at $5K-$6K to buy the unit (in 2019), I decided the benefit simply wasn't worth the cost for me. For others, the device is a great solution. Author Maddi Niebanck who survived a stroke at 22 and was in episode 97 uses the Bioness and is a big fan.

The Neural Sleeve takes this technology further. As Jeremiah explained, the network of electrodes in the device means that precise placement is not as important. Software can adjust for that.  With its larger assortment of electrodes, it can also stimulate more muscles and address other aspects of gait. And it looks less like a home-release ankle monitor.

The rental aspect of the Neural Sleeve also makes it more accessible to more folks, similar to the approach adopted by show sponsor Motus Nova for its rehab device.

The best rehab gear is the gear you won't need forever, and that rental becomes much more compelling. At least under the American model of health care financing.

Cionic Images

You can get a look at the device in these images. Or visit http://cionic.com.

An animated GIF showing the Neural Sleeve from an orbital motion

No Plateau Podcast

Many stroke survivors have heard of Saebo. The make a series of devices for survivors. One of them is the Saebo Step, which is an alternative AFO. They sent me one several months ago, and I use it as my summer AFO. Specifically, it's the one I use when I wear short pants or sneakers.

They also have a podcast called the "No Plateau Podcast" which is a great name for a stroke oriented show. And I'm the guest on episode 6. It was a lot of fun and I didn't have to do the editing.

In the episode, I share my stroke journey and we talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of stroke rehab. We also talk about what I mean when I say, "Don't get best…get better." And we talk about some of the inequities affecting female presenting and BIPOC stroke survivors.

You can listen right here. If you don't see the audio player below, visit http://Strokecast.com/ElectricPants to listen to the conversation. Or go directly to the audio at this link.

And check out more episodes of the No Plateau Podcast on Saebo's website or in your favorite podcast app.

Hack of the Week

Jeremiah recommends patience. Recovery is a journey as we well know, and we can take it just a piece at a time.

It's also important to capture the process in notes, video, audio, and/or pictures. As we make progress day-by-day we won't see it. It's only when we look back at our records that we see how far we've come.

And of course this aligns well with the idea of "Don't get best…get better." It's that incremental progress that matters…little bits every day that over time add up to success and goal achievement.


Where do we go from here?

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Stroke at 35 is no Match for Sportswriter Calli Varner

Calli Varner and I don't have a lot in common. Calli is athletic and into sports. I … am not. I was born in New York City; Calli was born in the Midwest. Calli thrives in Phoenix, AZ. I still don't understand whatever possessed someone to put the 5th largest city in the US in the middle of an oven.

We do have a few things in common, though. We both like cats. We both like to write. And we both experienced stroke at a relatively young age.

Sportswriter Calli Varner survived her stroke at 35 Thanksgiving weekend in 2021.

I first read Calli's story through the America Heart Association's profile and wanted to learn more. You can read that original profile here. I wanted to hear more so Calli joins me in this episode to share her adventure.

If you don't see the audio player below, visit http://Strokecast.com/MSN/Calli to listen to the conversation.


Calli was lucky in her recovery, but luck isn't just about the randomness of fate in the universe. I like the definition that says luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

Getting to an ambulance quickly made a difference for Calli. Getting tPA quickly made a difference. Already being athletic made a difference. Determination in her recovery made a difference. Simple, clear goal setting made a difference. And the help of Lt Dan, pushed it over the top.

Who is Calli Varner?

Calli is a sports lover and writer in Scottsdale. At 35, she never expected to experience a stroke at such a young age. She is active, attending cycling classes three times a week. While visiting her parents over Thanksgiving, Calli suffered from a moderate acute ischemic stroke when a blood clot traveled to her brain.

After eight months of recovery that included living with her parents, and going back and forth to doctor's appointments, Calli is now fully recovered and ready to get back to football games. Here is how she was able to become stronger after her stroke thanks to the support around her (especially her cat, Lt. Dan) and keeping her eye on the prize, attending a Chiefs game in the fall. 

You can follow Calli on Twitter at @CalliDoesSports

Calli wears a white T-Shirt and smiles at the camera while holding a dar, tortise shell colored cat with both her arms.g Calli and Lt Dan

Fast Treatment

The BEFAST stroke warning signs (Balance, Eyes, Face, Arms, Speech, Time) includes time in the list because it is so essential.

Many ischemic (clot-based) strokes can be stopped with a drug called tPA. It has to be administered within the first 3-4.5 hours after stroke symptoms first appear, though.

While research is looking to extend that window, today, those limits apply.

Every minute of stroke means more dead brain cells. tPA can reduce the damage by restoring the flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to starving cells before they die, but can't bring them back once they're dead. Calling an ambulance is the essential first aid step when someone MIGHT be experiencing a stroke.

In Calli's case, she got treatment quickly which helped drive her recovery and get her to the life she lives today.

Stroke symptom graphic highlighting BE FAST (Sudden change in Balance, Eyesight, Facial symmetry, Arm control or speech/language means it is time to call and ambulance),

Fibromuscular Dysplasia

According to the Mayo Clinic, Fibromuscular Dysplasia is a condition that leads to changes in the size of blood vessels, often supplying the brain or kidneys.

Narrower blood vessels mean less blood flow to critical parts of the body. These choke points in the circulatory system can also lead to turbulence and turbulence makes clot formation more likely.

Calli has this condition in the vessels in her neck and it MAY be what led to her stroke.

Ultimately, up to 20% of strokes are "cryptogenic," meaning there is no known cause. It's frustrating because it means survivors don't know how to prevent it.

In Calli's case, they speculate that the reason her fibromuscular dysplasia didn't cause issues before was because she was in such great physical shape.

Being in great shape doesn't mean you won't have a stroke. It just makes it more likely and potentially delays it to a later point in life. And that could well be why Calli had her stroke at 35 instead of 25. But, again, I'm not a doctor. Just a random marketing guy.

Strokecast Gift Guide

Calli recommended the book, "Fear is a Choice" by James Connor.* James survived cancer and went on to an American  football career in the NFL. Calli found great inspiration in the book. You can find it here.*

You can also find it in the Strokecast Gift Guide. If you're looking for books by guests on the show, books related to stroke or recovery from other folks, gadgets to help with recovery, or gadgets to make life a little easier, check out the Strokecast Gift Guide.

It's a list of neat stuff with links to buy it on Amazon. You can check it out at http://Strokecast.com/GiftGuide. *

THE Game

On Sunday, September 11, 2022, the Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL journeyed to Phoenix, AZ to battle the Phoenix Cardinals, and Calli was at the game.

Congratulations, Calli, on achieving one of your main stroke recovery goals. I hope the stadium experience was everything you hoped it would be.

And to top it off, Calli's Chiefs won the game 44 to 21.


Hack of the Week

Calli suggest you let yourself feel what you feel.

So often after stroke or other trauma, we don't want to explore our feelings. We want to pretend things didn't happen or that they didn't affect us. But they did.

Denying our feelings delays dealing with them but we can't delay forever. It's like we're borrowing from the future and we'll have to pay back that emotional energy with interest.

Dealing with this stuff, though, helps us become the new person we are. I think every survivor I've talked with describes the "new me." We're transformed by stroke.

The old life is gone. We may get back to aspects of it, or parts of it, and the person we are now may (or may not) be substantially similar), but we are new. And how do we grow into that?

It starts with letting yourself feel your own feelings.


Where do we go from here?

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast