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Surprise Brain Tumor and Post-partum Stroke with Ruth Carroll

Bill Monroe logo: MainLogoBill Monroe 9/23/2022 Bill Monroe

A 20+ year old hidden brain tumor made itself known just before Ruth Carroll gave birth. A stroke followed the birth of her son and set Ruth on an unexpected journey as a new mother and young stroke survivor.

It’s been a few years since all that happened, and I’m delighted to speak with Ruth in this episode. There is something so calming in her demeanor — even when she’s talking about horrific ICU hallucinations. We talk about that, hydrotherapy, family, and more.

If you don’t see the audio player below, visit to listen to the conversation.

I just lived normal life for 20 years before this and there was a tumor in my in my head all the time.  — Ruth Carroll #Stroke #StrokeSurvivor #Strokecast

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Ruth Carroll is 36 years old. She’s from County Cork in Ireland but live in County Dublin as she married a Dub! They have a son who is 3 & half years old called Bobby. 

Prior to this sudden shift in her life direction, Ruth worked in marketing as a brand manager at McDonalds in Ireland

Ruth was diagnosed with a brain tumor a week before Bobby was born. Her pregnancy hormones caused the tumor to grow very quickly & suddenly & this unfortunately caused her stroke the very next day after Bobby was born.  (left side affected)

Ruth has made a good recovery but still has a long way to go. Ruth’s neuro surgeon told her he thought she would be bed bound for the rest of her life. She showed him! Ruth is now walking independently. Her left arm & hand is still paralyzed but Ruth  continues working hard on getting them back!  

And I had a fantastic pregnancy. The 1st nine months were brilliant, no medical issues. I felt great. I was loving every second of it until the 9th month.  — Ruth Carroll #Stroke #StrokeSurvivor #Strokecast

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Ischemic does not mean clot

Most ischemic strokes are due to a clot forming in a blood vessel, so most people think that’s what ischemic means. It’s not quite true, though.

Ischemia actually refers to a lack of oxygen getting to the cells. Most of the time that’s due to a clot, but not always. In fact, it’s sometimes therapeutic, like in Remote Ischemic Conditioning which we talked about in episode 55.

In Ruth’s case, her stroke was ischemic, but there was no clot. Instead, her brain tumor wrapped around an artery from the outside, cutting off the flow of blood to that part of her brain.

Most treatments for ischemic stroke involve clot busting medications like TPA or clot removal via mechanical thrombectomy. Neither of those therapies would have helped Ruth because there was no clot to break or remove.

They had to pursue surgery to remove the tumor and restore the flow of blood.

He said if I had to choose to have a brain tumor, that's the tumor that I would choose.  — Ruth Carroll #Stroke #StrokeSurvivor #Strokecast

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Hydrotherapy is an important part of Ruth’s recovery program.

Hydrotherapy typically takes place in a special heated pool with a therapist who can help the survivor safely complete the exercise program.

The warm water helps the muscles relax and relieve tone and spasticity. The buoyancy helps reduce balance issue so the survivor can focus on their movement. The water resistance ensure the muscles still get a good work out. And the water reduces the risk of injury from a fall. Finally, a hydrotherapy pool will typically have the accessibility equipment to make it safe for a person with disabilities to enter and leave the pool.

Special pools and specially trained therapists help survivors get special results.

Obviously it's very important to put in the hard work, but you need the right therapists, I find, you know, to educate you on what needs to be done to push you in the right way.  — Ruth Carroll #Stroke #StrokeSurvivor #Strokecast

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Hack of the week.

Mirroring what Kristen Aguirre said in episode 114 (, Ruth suggests looking for shampoo and related products that have a pump.

When you’re already living with paralysis and working hard in the shower to, you know, not fall, opening bottles and pouring soap without spilling the product or yourself is exhausting. So don’t do it.

When you choose your product, look for bottles that come with pumps. They make it much easier to dispense the product.

If your favorite product doesn’t come with a pump option, add one yourself. You can find generic bottle pumps on line.

Here’s one example:*

It's all about making that connection from the brain to the limb.  — Ruth Carroll #Stroke #StrokeSurvivor #Strokecast

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Ruth Carroll on Instagram

Beaumont Hospital

National Rehabilitation Hospital

Headway Ireland

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland

Brain Tumor Ireland

Kristen Aguirre on Strokecast

Remote Ischemic Conditioning

I feel very blessed that I have a fantastic family and I have a fantastic group of friends, but the brain injury actually brought us so much closer together.  — Ruth Carroll #Stroke #StrokeSurvivor #Strokecast

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Where do we go from here?

And I can see why people go and talk to someone in counseling now. Initially I couldn't understand it and I thought it was a bit of a waste of time, but it's been very helpful and very important in my recovery.  — Ruth Carroll…

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Strokecast is the stroke podcast where a Gen X stroke survivor explores rehab, recovery, the frontiers of neuroscience and one-handed banana peeling by helping stroke survivors, caregivers, medical providers and stroke industry affiliates connect and share their stories.

Bill Monroe is not a doctor or medical professional of any sort. He’s just a marketing guy who now knows way more about neurology and neuroplasticity than any marketing guy should know.

Bill and Bill’s guests provide general information, personal stories, education starting points and entertainment. They do not provide medical advice. Do not make any changes to your treatment plan or the execution of your treatment plan without discussing it with your doctor or personal medical team.

*Affiliate links

Affiliate links link to products and service where Bill may earn some compensation if you place an order. This does not affect the price you pay.

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