Posts Tagged ‘emory healthcare stroke center’

Jerry Grillo’s Story: Surviving and Recovering from a Cerebellar Stroke

jerry grillo in woodsI remember it like it was yesterday. Just before 7 p.m. on August 5, 2018, I was sitting in my living room, watching TV with my wife and son, when the sound of the TV faded away and was replaced by what sounded like the buzz of a thousand bees deep inside my right ear. The buzzing only lasted a few seconds but was followed with an all-consuming dizziness and nausea. I was having a cerebellar stroke.

What Is a Cerebellar Stroke?

A cerebellar stroke occurs when there’s a lack of blood flow to the part of the brain (cerebellum) that helps with body movement, eye movement and balance. They’re most commonly caused by blood clots, like mine was, but can also be caused by trauma.

Cerebellar strokes account for only about 10 percent of all strokes and are not easy to diagnose. They’re often mistaken as migraines, gastritis, meningitis or even inner ear infections. Without a quick and accurate diagnosis, cerebellar strokes can be severely debilitating — even life-threatening.

Luckily for me, Fadi Nahab, MD, stroke quality director for the Emory Healthcare Stroke Program, was able to identify what was happening to me. After looking over my MRI from the night of the stroke, Dr. Nahab told me that I’d actually had two strokes. He saw evidence of not only the cerebellar stroke but also of an earlier episode closer to the front of my brain. At some point, it seems, I’d had some type of minor stroke, probably while sleeping. I have no memory of it, but I learned there’s something called a silent stroke, which often has no symptoms but still causes damage to brain tissue. He was concerned that my heart may have been the cause of the stroke and recommended a small implantable cardiac monitor which soon detected an irregular heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation. As a result, I was able to get on the right treatment for me and have avoided any future strokes.

Life After a Stroke

When I think of how this could’ve turned out, I realize how lucky I am. I’ve made incredible progress with my recovery. There’s some lingering delay in my left hand—my typing isn’t as fast and accurate as it used to be, and playing guitar is harder than it was, but it’s all gotten better with repetition.

Strokes can leave a lasting impact on your life, and often those effects are more than just physical. I sometimes worry about the ‘what-ifs’ — What if I hadn’t made it? What if it happens again? Even though it’s easy to get sucked into the anxiety of worst-case scenarios, I try to quickly shift my focus back to reality. I’m here. I’m physically and cognitively intact. My son Joe, who is severely affected by cerebral palsy, needs me and I’m determined to stay healthy enough to continue caring for him. With the love and support of my wife, Jane, and the expert care of Dr. Nahab, I have confidence that I can look forward to many more years of happy evenings watching TV with my family.

Innovative Stroke Research Conducted by Dr. Fadi Nahab

There are known risk factors for stroke, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tobacco use, alcohol and drug abuse, poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. But sometimes strokes occur in people who don’t have these risk factors. When the cause of a stroke is unknown, it’s called a cryptogenic stroke.

Dr. Nahab has conducted extensive research that concentrates on cryptogenic strokes. He and his colleagues have pinpointed blood biomarkers that identify patients most likely to develop future clotting abnormalities and are national leaders evaluating novel treatments through clinical trials to determine which patients may benefit.

“Studies completed more than a decade ago basically led to cryptogenic stroke patients being placed on an aspirin regimen and wished them good luck,” Dr. Nahab says. “But we’ve known for a while that patients who have had a cryptogenic stroke may have issues that necessitate blood-thinning medicine that is stronger than aspirin.” When it comes to the cause of strokes, Dr. Nahab wants to remove the ‘unknown’ from the equation. “The goal is to get patients the appropriate treatment before they have a recurrent stroke,” he says.

To learn more about the Emory Healthcare Stroke Center, visit our website at

Stroke Awareness at Emory Healthcare

stroke-smallAccording to the American Heart Association, stroke is the leading cause of adult disability in the United States. Do you know the signs, symptoms and risk factors of stroke? It is important to be aware of those indicators and know when to Act FAST every month of the year, not just National Stroke Awareness Month. Emory Healthcare encourages you to talk with members of the Emory Healthcare stroke team during one of the following events near you.

Stroke Live Chat

When: Tuesday, May 24, 2018; 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
Where: Online < >
What: Dr. Mahmoud Obideen, stroke neurohospitalist at Emory Johns Creek Hospital and Dr. Fadi Nahab, medical director of Emory Stroke Center will answer questions about stroke signs, symptoms and treatments during a LIVE interactive chat.
Central DeKalb Senior Center Health Fair
When: May 11, 2016; 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
Where: Briarcliff Oaks apartment community, 2982 Briarcliff Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30329 (parking is limited, additional parking across the street in front of Briarcliff Baptist Church)
What: Emory University Hospital stroke team will share information.

  • Stroke awareness education
  • Blood pressure screening
  • Blood glucose screening
  • Nutrition education

5K Scrub Run and Community Health Festival

When: Saturday, May 14, 2016; 8:00 am-11:00 am
Where: Emory Johns Creek Hospital parking lot
What: The stroke team will share information

  • Learn the signs and symptoms of stroke
  • Free glucose and cholesterol
  • Free blood pressure screening
  • Get your BMI checked
  • Vein screening

Old Fourth Ward Park Arts Festival

When: June 25 & 26, 2016
Where: Historic Fourth Ward Park behind Ponce City Market, 592 N
Angier Ave. NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30308
What: Emory University Hospital Midtown stroke team will have a table.

  • Learn the signs and symptoms of stroke
  • Free blood pressure screening
  • Hear about stroke rehabilitation programs

Stroke is an emergency. If you or someone around you is experiencing signs or symptoms of stroke, CALL 911 immediately.