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Stroke victor shares his successes at The Community House

By Staff | Aug 5, 2015

Bob Mandell, author and founder of The Stroke Research Foundation had a launch party at the Community House July 26 to share how he went from a stroke victim to a victor. MEGHAN McCOY

Despite the constant rainfall Sunday afternoon, more than 25 individuals attended a launch party at the Community House that shared the message “don’t let barriers get in the way,” after suffering from a stroke.

“I am really thrilled. I am really thrilled because 19 years ago I couldn’t speak,” Bob Mandell, author of “Stroke Victor: How to Go From Stroke Victim to Stroke Victor,” said smiling. “I couldn’t get more than two words out. When I say I’m thrilled to be here, believe me I am thrilled.”

Nineteen years ago Mandell was in the beginning stages of starting a new business and had been married for 18 months to his second wife. Flu like symptoms made him leave work early one day, which resulted with a stop at the doctors and pharmacy to pick up a prescription before heading home.

“That week I was having terrible headaches. That night I had a terrible headache and that is why I went to bed. Suddenly I felt something pop and I couldn’t move. I thought I had a stroke,” Mandell said. “I called 911 and told them don’t come and they listened.”

In an effort to make it easier for the paramedics later after his wife returned home from teaching, he decided to get out of bed and go down to the second level. Unfortunately with the loss of feeling in half his body he fell down five stairs. He remained on the ground until the opening of the garage door woke him and he started calling for his wife to “come up.”

Mandel was in the hospital for 10 days following that night with hiccups, which he said is a side effect of having a stroke. From there he was transferred to a nursing home where he spent three and a half months.

“After a couple weeks I wanted to stay,” he said. “I felt safe. I felt taken care of. I fought hard to stay at the nursing home because I didn’t know what it was going to be like in home.”

After explaining the events leading up to the stroke, Mandell shared how he progressed over the years going from a stroke victim to a stroke victor.

“Caregivers are the unsung heroes of stroke,” he said while introducing his wife Debbie, who continues to help him. “They are very important.”

A stroke plan that includes what hospital to be taken to, Mandell said is very important to have before a possible stroke happens. He said for Lee County the best hospital to go to is Gulf Coast Medical Center because it has a comprehensive stroke center that can do every intervention. He said when he met with a doctor he said “the best thing to do is go to a place with all the bells and whistles.”

Another piece of advice Mandell shared with the audience is how to conquer plateaus during recovery.

“I have a theory. Every therapist has their bag of tricks. They have different tools, different experience levels. They have certain things they learn,” he said. “When you plateau with that person, get another therapist and another bag of tricks.”

The importance of conquering depression after suffering from a stroke was also addressed in his presentation. Depression was beat by taking things one step, one objective at a time.

Other successes he found that has helped him progress were participating in some sort of fitness even if it’s only for a few minutes, listening to evaluation feedback and applying it to a plan, as well as do traditional and integrative therapy.

“If you are not in therapy, how do you know you maxed out,” Mandell asked the audience.

He has spent a lot of time participating in traditional therapy, integrative therapy and clinical research, which he told the crowd has helped him conquer different challenges, such as holding a wine glass and sitting on a bar stool.

“I was referred to the University of Florida. A young gal said you have to go up to the Brain Rehab Center,” Mandell said. “I spent a better part of the summer up there doing several studies, some which worked and some which didn’t work. None of which was negative.”

Clinical research was something he advised people to get involved in because it’s free healthcare.

“You are getting cutting edge medicine, although there is no guarantee it will work,” Mandell said.

Before his hour-long presentation concluded he shared information about his foundation, The Stroke Research Foundation. He said stroke is the number one disabling disease and the fifth most common cause of death.

“Stroke research is difficult because there are no two strokes that are the same and no two stroke outcomes that are the same,” Mandell said.

The foundation’s first annual fundraiser, “Stroke Victor Success Paths,” will help raise funds for stroke advocacy, outreach and research implemented with Florida Gulf Coast University, Lee Memorial and Naples Community Hospital. The fundraiser will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1, at FGCU.

Sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information, call (239) 254-8266, email bob@strokevictor.com or visit www.StrokeVictor.com.

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.