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angelphyre 01-22-2011 05:12 PM

Stroke in Foreign Country
On 1-18-11 I got a call from my brother's GF telling me my brother had suffered a stroke and they were taking him to the hospital. He was in China and being treated for a day and was then moved to a hopsital in Hong Kong. My brother is only 37yo I dont' understand how this happened. He is half paralized on the left side, is concious, and is alert and repsonsive. My brother and father arrived there sat morning their time. The doctors told us that he will need to stay in the hospital for at least a month. Possibly 2-3 months. We want to move him back to the states as quickly as possible, but are worried about the risks. He's had several ct scans already. The brain is severly swollen but being controlled w/ medication. He can't have surgery b/c he also has pnemonia and water in his lungs.

Also, my brother does not have health insurance. In New York or traveler's health insurance. He is a personal trainer, but he won't be able to work for a while, so he won't have any income either. Can he qualify for medicaid? I don't know if I can look for regular insurance for him? Is this considered a pre-existing condition? Should I look into long term care for the recovery? I just don't know where to start.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I think I'm still in shock over all this.

Thank you.

Chloe1252 01-22-2011 09:40 PM

Re: Stroke in Foreign Country
HI there!
So sorry this happened to your brother at his young age. Not being there must be very stressful for you, but it's nice he's not alone!

Hopefully, the tests given to him will pinpoint the cause of the stroke. Sometimes it's from high blood pressure, plaque breaking lose and blocking a vein or something else. Sometimes something like a bad infection can temporarily raise blood pressure enough to cause a stroke.

It does sound like he should not be moved at the moment and should stay where he is until it's deemed safe for him to travel. He'll probably get physical therapy there when his condition is more stable.

I don't know anything about medical costs, but I'm sure Americans here can point you in the right direction to find out.

Here's hoping your brother makes a complete recovery!

Positive Cynic 01-24-2011 11:51 AM

Re: Stroke in Foreign Country
J. Lee,
Hello. I am so sorry to hear about your brother. My stroke happened in January 2010. I understand how overwhelming this can be for you. Him being in China sure makes you worry even that more. Obviously I have no idea of what the medical situation is in China, but I agree he needs to be here in the States as soon as possible.

Do you know why his brain is swollen? Did he have a head injury? From what I have found is that your brain does not necessarily swollen from a stroke. As in my case, there was no swelling. So I would first find why his brain is swollen. That could be dangerous for him to travel so long and so far. I want to give you hope that he can recover from his stroke. I could not read or write after my stroke, but it is slowly coming back. Him being so young is a good thing on his side. There is no easy answer for recovery, it is really our own brain that repairs itself, so it depends on each person and each case and everyone is different. I do worry about him not being here though and what kind of care he is getting.

To ease your worry a little, he should be able to get Medicaid. He also will be able to get disability income I am sure, but you need to get the ball moving right now. Those things take a very long time to approve and it is very stressful and paperwork is a nightmare. First get yourself to legally talk in his behalf. In my case I had to have my wife take care of all of my matters because I was not able to. I did it by phone, but since he is out of the country, it may have to be done by e-mail, letter, or fax, I am not sure. But I can't stress enough that you need apply these things now and if it gets denied the first time, do it again and again.

I was lucky that my wife would not give up. It took hundreds of hours of phone calls, e-mails, forms, letters, etc. It is definitely too much for someone that just had a stroke to do all of those things alone. I don't want to scare you, but that is the truth of getting some government help. It can be done, but it is exhausting. Many times I thought that they make it so hard that most people may give up and maybe it is by design; just a thought.

Let me know if we can help any way. My prayers and thoughts are with you and your brother.
God Bless,

writeleft 01-24-2011 01:20 PM

Re: Stroke in Foreign Country
J. Lee,

I am sorry for your brothers stroke, and that he is so far away from home. We are a tight group here, and will be happy to offer you everything we can to help during this difficult time. Feel free to ask us anything, or to express your fears or concerns. It is often much easier on the stroke survivor than the families, as once we have had our strokes, it is others that are left to care for us, and make decisions when we cannot.

I cannot offer you much information on when he should travel, that is something that needs to have a doctor to answer, and likely to get an authorization for travel.

I do agree with Positive Cynic on getting the paperwork going.

Are your father and brother going to be able to stay with him until he can come home? I hope so.

The cause of many strokes can be unknown, especially at first. With time and the proper testing, the cause may be revealed.

I had strokes at 43, a fairly young age as well. When it comes to recovery, being younger is a big advantage, as well as the fact that he is fit and in good shape. Stroke recovery is very slow, but amazing progress can be made. I went from being unable to do anything, walk, talk, think, write, read, eat, nothing. These days I can do it all, and although I am a new person after stroke I am happy and very appreciative of life itself.

Stay with us, and we will help you with your feelings. Stroke is something very hard to deal with, but with understanding and help you will learn how to best help your brother. We are like a family here, and we stick together.

Wishing you and your family the best, and your brother an amazing recovery.


angelphyre 01-24-2011 09:48 PM

Re: Stroke in Foreign Country
Thank you all so much for your help. Luckily my cousin who lived with my brother in New York is handling his process to get Medicaid. I will let him know the urgency to get started in the process. We have 3 areas to choose from for his recovery. New York, DC, and San Diego. Does anyone know which city has better programs? We would prefer he came here in San Diego, but there is significant other involved as well. He didn't want to move down to DC when we were living there at the time b/c of his Gf. I don't even know if she's going to stay with him or not. So far she's with him in hong kong, but i don't know.

He had surgery to relieve the swelling. Will know in a day how much the stroke has effected him. He sat in a chair before the surgery so thats a good sign.

We're not sure if my younger brother can stay w my older brother for that long b/c of his job. I know my dad can, but we're not Chinese so for my dad being in a foreign country is very overwhelming, especially of he has to be ther by himself. He's not the most computer/cellphone savvy person either.

My brother had pneumonia before his trip and was on antibiotics. The doctors still don't know what caused the stroke. He fell down when he had the stroke which is probably the cause for the brain swelling.

Positive Cynic 01-25-2011 11:33 AM

Re: Stroke in Foreign Country
Hello J. Lee,
It is so nice that your brother has such a caring family that are so concerned about him and are helping him when he can't help himself. When you said he fell after the stroke, that makes perfect sense why he has swelling on the brain. I am sure that that needs to be looked at first before they deal with the stroke aspect. I am sure that once the swelling is down, he would be able to come home as long as his father (or a loved one) is with him during the trip.

As far as one city you mentioned is better, I sure can't say. I am sure that any one is fine for his medical purposes, but more importantly is where will he be when he is out of the hospital? I would make sure that somebody is with him as much as possible for the first few months. I know when I came home from the hospital right after my stroke, I was confused, nervous and scared. I did not like being alone at all. It is fine now, but the first month or two after my stroke where the hardest time to try and understand what happened to me. It is very hard for everyone involved, it takes a lot of love and patience for everybody.

You sound like you have a beautiful loving family, so everything will be fine. If you have any more questions, place feel free to ask. Like Janet said, we are all like a family here. We know the struggles that happen after a stroke, not only for the survivor, but for all of the family as well. So please stay in touch.

Oh, by the way, what is your brother's name if you don't mind?

God Bless,
Tim :wave:

writeleft 01-25-2011 01:27 PM

Re: Stroke in Foreign Country

I am in San Diego, and I know we have great stroke facilities here...Sharp, UCSD, Scripps to name a few.

What will likely be the best for him is the place where he can have the best family support. I needed 24 hour care for a long time following my strokes, and like Tim (positive cynic) I did not want to be alone, and couldn't because it took me so long to regain my balance, for one thing. The best place will be the one that offers him the most people around him to help him, as well as getting him to the doctors appointments, help with his medications, and do the shopping, cooking, etc. One person who has a full time job, for example would not be enough.

One thing you will likely notice will be his great need for sleep, and that is one thing we all have in common. The brain will shut down many of the functions that are not necessary for life while it goes about the task of re-wiring, re-routing blood supplies, and slowly recovering one thing at a time. Sleep is the time this recovery is happening.

Although I had other major losses with my strokes such as kidney failure, loss of eyesight, heart attack and other damage, I slept for much of 2 years. This is not meant to scare you, or to compare with your brothers situation, just to let you know what possibilities are...time wise.

We will be happy to do whatever we can to help you though is a very hard thing to go through. We are behind you and your family, while you get through this.

Much of my recovery happened right here, as I came here unable to type, and re-learned how to think, and write. When people read what i have written, they cannot believe it is me, because in person I cannot speak a sentence without several fumbles, mixed up words, and gibberish coming out. Learning how to write again has been a godsend, as this is one way I can reach out to others, and I use it as my volunteer work which has always been important to me. Hopefully when he is better he can come join us here. We understand.

Prayers to you and your family.

angelphyre 02-02-2011 11:30 PM

Re: Stroke in Foreign Country
We were able to speak with a social worker for the hospital, and they actually have a program that will help w/ the costs of the hospital stay.

Now for the not so good news...the dr.s discovered cancer cells in the fluid that they had drained from his lungs. My brother Andy has also had increased heart rate, which they are now controlling with medication. He's scheduled to have surgery i think tonight their time to insert a filter in his vein to help with blood clots going into his lungs. But he's still concious and alert. Right now we're working on getting a Power of Attorney signed so we can handle his affairs here.

The medicaid is on hold until we can get everything else in order first, but thank you all for the advice. We just want him well enough to travel back here. where ever here will be. Our family out west is willing to relocate back east, where the rest of our family is. but it is sure cold out there!

Thank you everyone once again! Andy is a fighter, he's never given up on anything. You all are great! And I do appreciate the advices and words of encouragement.

writeleft 02-03-2011 12:29 PM

Re: Stroke in Foreign Country
Thank you so very much for updating us on your brothers condition. It is so wonderful that your family has pulled together for your brother, that support is what makes all the difference for stroke survivors.

I am terribly sorry about the new discoveries, but perhaps now the cancerous cells can be treated way before you might have ever known they were there, if it hadn't been for his stroke. God works in mysterious ways.

We would love to continue to hear other updates as they come along, we will always be here to support you and give you everything we have in terms of understanding and response to your families concerns.

Thank you so much for sharing your story...we are here for you.

Positive Cynic 02-04-2011 04:43 AM

Re: Stroke in Foreign Country
J. Lee,
Hello. Thanks for keeping in touch. I can't add much more than what Janet said at this point. Just know we are all with you and Andy in spirit. I just hope he gets home as soon as possible. It must be extremely stressful with him being so far away.
God Bless,

angelphyre 02-11-2011 02:49 AM

Re: Stroke in Foreign Country
My mother left for Hong Kong today. My brother suggested that she came quickly. But before she left I got a call from my brother saying that Andy looked better this morning and was moved out of the emergency care section to the regular icu. We'll more later. But the cancer seems to be effecting his recovery.

Positive Cynic 02-11-2011 04:41 AM

Re: Stroke in Foreign Country
[QUOTE=angelphyre;4681981]My mother left for Hong Kong today. My brother suggested that she came quickly. But before she left I got a call from my brother saying that Andy looked better this morning and was moved out of the emergency care section to the regular icu. We'll more later. But the cancer seems to be effecting his recovery.[/QUOTE]

J. Lee,
Good morning. First I want you to know that our prayers and thoughts are with you and your family. How long was he in emergency care? Was it due to cancer? Do you know exactly what happened as to why he is icu? It seems like the cancer is more important now than the stroke, if I am reading correctly what you wrote here. Please let us know. I am so sorry so much seems to be happening all at once.
God Bless

writeleft 02-11-2011 09:38 AM

Re: Stroke in Foreign Country

Good morning. What a whirlwind of events to have all happened at once like this. I can imagine the great concern your entire family must be going through. I do not know your parents ages, but thankfully they are able to be together there with Andy.

I have traveled in the Orient quite a bit, and as scary as it sounds, the people are so very gracious and kind. In the big cities English is spoken commonly and I'll bet your dad will be thrilled to see your moms face, as she arrives. The same will be likely for your brother, as well.

I wish we had some words that could help, but we don't. All we can offer is our support and love to your family. Miracles happen everyday, and I am sure your family could use one at this time.

I can't tell you how wonderful it is of you to share the updates with us, as I understand what a trying time this is.

How are you holding up? I know your life is likely turned completely turned upside down. We are behind you all the way, and only want the best outcome.


angelphyre 02-11-2011 12:38 PM

Re: Stroke in Foreign Country
Thank you all...
The doctors discovered cancer cells when they tested the fluid they had drained from his lungs. appox 2 L.

So it was Stroke, pnemonia & fever, surgery to relieve pressure to brain, tests b/c of low platelets & WBC, draining fluid from lungs b/c of pnemonia, discovering cancer cells in fluid, blood clot in leg due to stroke -->travel to lung, surgery to put in filter, increased heart rate = medication, low platelets again, blood or platelet transfusion (haven't cleared it with my brother who's there), adjusting medication, now we are at this point. see if there is any changes. My brother was always in the ICU. He was moved up from the ICU to 24/7 Monitoring Dependent Care unit before they put in the filter for the blood clot. But now he's back to the ICU, so I think that's a good sign. Nothing more has changed. He used to be able to make hand gestures and was more awake, but now he just sleeps and is too weak to move his hands.

We're just all waiting for him to stabilize more. The doctors say they can't find the cancer or run tests b/c my brother is too weak. But the doctor has been really great. He's even communicated via email with my cousin who's a dr. and other family members who is a neurologist and oncologist. I know we're really lucky.

angelphyre 02-17-2011 12:11 AM

Re: Stroke in Foreign Country
I want to thank everyone on the board for their support. My brother passed away a few days ago. We still don't know a lot of information on what caused the stroke, or the cancer, but it seems important now. I wanted to wish everyone the best in their recoveries and future.

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