When you go to the doctor after a stroke you have a checklist of problems to discuss- leg weakness, pain, blurred vision or arm tingling. But you might also experience some less stereotypical stroke effects that you are be embarrassed to discuss with your doctor. However, you need to make sure that your doctor and the health care team taking care of you know about these ‘awkward’ problems.
Sometimes these stroke complications don’t start right away and may not appear until up to 6 months after your stroke.
This could make you think that they aren’t related to your stroke- but a delay in effects does not mean that a new symptom isn’t related to your stroke. And your healthcare team needs to know – both to monitor your recovery and also to treat these new, surprising and embarrassing problems.
1. Can’t go to the bathroom
After a stroke, it can become difficult to empty your bladder. It is an unusual feeling if you did not experience this issue before your stroke, and it is a frustrating problem. Some people have trouble starting a stream of urine after a stroke, while others can’t completely empty the bladder while urinating.
Either way, getting up frequently to use the restroom is an annoying and embarrassing lifestyle change. Your health care team has heard it before because this is very common after a stroke. Make sure to discuss it with your doctor because that is the only way you can get help.
Losing control of your bladder is one of the most common embarrassing incidents after a stroke. You might not have expected it, but don’t be surprised if you experience some incontinence after your stroke. Up to 70% of stroke survivors may experience incontinence.
There are effective medical approaches to managing incontinence- with few or no side effects. Your health care providers will not know to help you with your incontinence if they don’t know you have this difficulty.
Society has come a long way in understanding mood problems. There is still a stigma when it comes to depression. Nevertheless, rest assured that your health care team understands that your depression is not your fault and will not judge you for it. There are ways out of depression, including therapy, lifestyle changes and prescription medications. You owe it to yourself to get the help that you need- because it is out there.
4. Fear of sex
Most people who survive a stroke worry about a repeat stroke. Sexual activity is one of the top things that stroke survivors and their partners are apprehensive about. The truth is that sex rarely causes a stroke, but abuse of sex-enhancing pharmaceuticals, drugs and herbs can result in stroke. Know the facts.
5. Can’t swallow
Choking and trouble with a ‘gagging’ feeling are particularly common after a stroke. While it may be embarrassing, what is even more important is that choking is dangerous and can interfere with your breathing or cause pneumonia.
There are exercises that you can learn to prevent yourself from choking on food while you eat or choking on saliva even when you aren’t eating.
Often, a stroke causes face or mouth weakness, which can cause embarrassing drooling while you eat or talk. This is not unusual after a stroke, and your doctor can refer you to a speech and swallow therapist who can help you better control your muscles while you eat.
7. You don’t understand what a stroke is
A stroke is quite complex as far as medical conditions go. If you don’t understand what happened or if you don’t understand how much you can expect to improve after a stroke, don’t hesitate to ask your health care providers.
No matter what your embarrassing symptoms is, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask for help from your health care team. Most of the time there is a practical solution or a medical solution for your concern. Life after a stroke can be productive and healthy.