Brain stem Stroke or Infarction and Herniation


picture of brain stem
Medulla Oblongata and Pons are Breathing centers of the Brain

Late Tuesday night I had a brain stem stroke or infarction and herniation then a pulmonary arrest from increased ICP. Then Wednesday around 5:00 am my general practitioner (doctor) arrived for the first time. He approved the transfer to Medical City of Dallas.

The neurosurgeon and neurologist on staff at that hospital immediately performed a surgery and inserted a ventriculoperitoneal, VP Shunt to relieve the pressure from the accumulation of fluid, hydrocephalus in my brain. The three doctors that God used to save my life were Alan Shulkin, pulmonologist, Worthy Warnack, neurologist and Richard Naftalis, neurosurgeon. Nurses, doctors, an excellent chaplain, therapists and everyone at Medical City of Dallas were and are beyond excellent. Since then I have had several surgeries and stayed in ICU for over a dozen separate hospitalizations. My experiences with Medical City of Dallas over the last eighteen years has given me complete confidence in the hospital and I refuse to go to any other hospital for inpatient care.


Buckshot Effect on the Brain:  Brain Stem Stroke or Infarction and Herniation

 Brain Stem Stroke or Infarction and Herniation Strikes the Brain Like Buckshot from a Shotgun graphic of x a ray of an injury from a shotgun blast.

A stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to the brain. Usually a #stroke strikes the brain in one of the lobes (Frontal, Temporal, Parietal or Occipital).  Each lobe is responsible for different functions. The problems from a stroke can be more or less anticipated by the area struck as well as, the steps needed for recovery afterwards. An infarction is a stroke that occurs in the brain stem which is the area my stroke hit. Brain stem herniation occurs when the brain shifts from its normal position in the skull also my injury. The doctor described it to me in simple terms. In short, my brain slammed down into my spinal cord (the herniation) and the stroke occurred simultaneously. The infarction and the herniation blasted my brain in an unpredictable pattern like buckshot from a shotgun. Buckshot has many pellets that spray in an unpredictable pattern.

 (I have done my best to understand and research information about my condition and its causes. Please contact a medical professional for treatment and explanation, because I AM NOT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL far from it.) 

Is Anyone in There?

Glascow Coma scale chart to determine level of consciousness

The Glasgow Coma Scale is a scoring system used to evaluate someone’s level of consciousness. A score closer to the number three indicates a lower level of consciousness. Over the thirteen days in the coma my numbers fell until they reached a three and there was no sign of brain activity.

I never realized that someone might be somewhat responsive if they were in a coma. For example, my eyes were open in a dead stare, but I was otherwise unresponsive.  (After I went to the rehabilitation hospital, I saw a comatose patient with her eyes open. Every day they took her downstairs for to work with a physical therapist. I was shocked. Since I thought someone in a coma would be totally unresponsive and immobile.)

A Medical Mystery


I was a mystery to doctors and therapists. They treated me passively and expected nothing from me. After six months I was scheduled for discharge from the rehabilitation hospital. The week before I went home my regular occupational therapist, OT was out sick and the therapist that replaced her asked me to try and move my finger. I couldn’t feel so how could I move?  My mom said, “Don’t ask her to do that, because she can’t. You will just depress her.”  Thank God she ignored my mom. For the first time since I woke up from the coma I moved. It was only a tiny movement of my right index finger, but it was a start.

Then the next day my regular OT returned and mom told her about the movement.  I wasn’t able to repeat it for two days and she didn’t believe it happened. She and my doctors thought it had been a muscle spasm or something, not true movement. In a future post I will share how my determined mother learned how to get me to move. It took over two years to regain movement in my left arm and hand. I am a published author and inspirational, educational and spiritual speaker.


Occupational and Physical Therapists

Hot Tip Message White board

My mother didn’t accept the research or recommended methods for recovery, because my brain stem stroke or infarction and herniation said I wouldn’t survive not to mention, recover in anyway. Mom tried anything she could think of to get me to move and when one thing didn’t work she tried another. I want to tell OT’s and PT’s always ask your patients to try. Usually a diagnosis is correct and the expected methods for recovery work.   Please ASK YOUR PATIENTS TO TRY, because if that therapist never asked I wouldn’t have known that it was possible.




Brain Stem Stroke


Locked in-syndrome

Symptoms of Frontal, Temporal, Parietal and Occipital Strokes

Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt VP Shunt

What are the signs and symptoms of a stroke?

For more information on spinal meningitis visit Part 1 Bacterial Pneumococcal Meningitis and Part 2  Bacterial Pneumococcal Meningitis

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