October 2020 Jamie Bean
October 21, 2020
It was Sunday, December 9, 2018, and I was just getting home from watching a very unpleasant football game with some friends…the Patriots lost to the Dolphins and I swear it had something to do with what came next. When I got out of my truck at home, I felt a little off balance. I went into the house and used the bathroom. When I could not zip my pants, because my arm would not work, I came out toward the kitchen and my daughter questioned me because I was not able to walk straight. I turned to look at my wife and daughter and said, “I think I am having a stroke.” I was 39 years old.
I was rushed to the emergency room where they confirmed I was having a hemorrhagic stroke. At this juncture, they were unsure if I would need surgery to stop the bleeding in my brain and sent me to intensive care with neurology. Fortunately, I did not require surgery, but I spent the next nine days in ICU. These were frightening days for myself and my family. Untreated high blood pressure was the catalyst for my stroke.
With the persistence of my wife as my advocate, I was transferred to acute rehabilitation at MaineGeneral in Augusta. It was there that I found the strength and support to move forward. I was blessed with the very best therapists who helped me to find ways to cope with my new limitations caused by left side impairment. I had to learn to do so many things over again, things I took for granted, like getting myself dressed and learning to walk again. I was fitted with an AFO (ankle-foot orthosis) on my left leg, which I wore for about a year. I have since gained enough strength to walk without it, but still use a cane.
I feel like a lucky man. Partly because I survived this stroke, which has a very low survival rate (only about 26%). Partly because despite my stroke, I still won the fantasy football championship while I was in ICU (I did not suffer cognitively, thank the Lord). Partly because I have a wife and children who love me without limitation or expectation. And partly because I found a new piece of myself that I did not even know existed, one that is strong, willful, determined, and persistent. One of the hardest things to do is accept where you are right now, each day. Some days are better than others. Some days I feel challenged and frustrated. Some days I feel accomplished and strong. ALL days I feel loved and very thankful for my place in this world.
My name is Jamie Bean. I am 41 years old. I am married to my soulmate and love of my life, Erica Bean. I have two daughters, Hanna, and Halle. And I am a SURVIVOR.