My Stroke Taught Me to Reevaluate What is Important in My Life

Deanne Stein Health Guide
  • After my stroke in 2001, I re-evaluated my life. I think that is normal. When faced with your own mortality, it seems only natural to look at your life and ask questions. I pondered questions like was I happy in my life and career? I remember before I got sick, I was so consumed in my career; I admit I didn’t spend as much time with my family, or when I did, it just felt like an obligation to get done. I didn’t get it and in turn wasn’t enjoying life. Everything was just a series of tasks to be completed. Post stroke, I made some changes.

    I did consider doing something else, career-wise. I looked in to doing something less stressful with more stable hours. Then, I realized, for the most part I was happy in my job. I didn’t want a new career because I loved what I was doing. It was comforting to find out that I was in the right career for me. But, I just needed to figure out how to balance it better with my home life. While my job was demanding, it didn’t require the long hours I was putting in. Some days, when there was breaking news, it did. However, most days, it did not.
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    It didn’t surprise me then to hear that long work hours are not healthy on a person. In fact, Americans who work long hours each week may be increasing their risk for high blood pressure. That was what researchers found during a survey of California workers. They found that the more hours people worked, the greater their risk of developing high blood pressure.

    The study suggested doctors to be more aware of their patients work load and type of work they do. Because the number of hours they work are potentially important risk factor for hypertension. Doctors should offer counseling on work hours and blood pressure, just like they would on diet and exercise.

    People who have hypertension are 4 to 6 times more likely to have a stroke. Over time, hypertension leads to atherosclerosis and hardening of the large arteries. This, in turn, leads to blockage and weakening of the walls of small blood vessels in the brain, causing them to balloon and burst. The risk of stroke is directly related to how high the blood pressure is.

    It’s too bad that it took a stroke to wake me up. But because of what happened to me, I live life differently. Actually, I just live life. I now cover stories of the day, but instead of hitting the internet and newspapers in the morning, I have breakfast with my son and just talk about the day ahead. After he leaves for school, I’m in work mode. I do my work and when I’m done, I go home. I’m lucky because the market where I work doesn’t produce a lot of “breaking” news. It’s a medium sized city, where the days are pretty low-key. I’m able to do worthwhile stories instead of chasing emergency vehicles all the time. We do have a big story from time to time, though, and on those days, I get the job done. But, I spread the wealth with other reporters. I don’t put it all on myself to have a hand in every story like before. Again, I GO HOME when I’m done with my work. Before, I would linger around the newsroom; watch other newscasts like a hawk, making sure we didn’t miss anything. These days, I leave in time to see my son’s football games and actually have dinner on the table at a decent hour. Now, I’m much happier in both my career and home life.

  • News article on the study into work related high blood pressure
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    Brochure on high blood pressure and strokes

    What is a stroke?
Published On: October 17, 2006