From the mouth of stroke survivor Tony DeNardo, bass player of The MuggsApril 19, 2014 5:14 pm
This is the first post of a blog series by Tony DeNardo of St. Clair Shores, Michigan. Tony is bass player of the world renowned rock and roll band “The Muggs.” He has quite a come back story, and quite a way of story telling. Tony wanted to share his blow-by-blow journey to our Rock the Stroke readers, as well as his lessons and profound insights.
Tony: Part 1
You ever heard of the word ‘soliloquy’?
It means, “to have a dialogue with yourself.”
I’ve done a lot of that over the past 12 years. I’d like this blog to be therapeutic for me, is that okay? Sure sounds good to me. You know you’re talking to yourself again?
I’m good if you’re good? Okay, so let’s begin. Who are you, by the way?
My name is Tony DeNardo. Yes, go on….. And I had a stroke when I was 28 years old.
Some people would say, “you had a bad roll the dice kid!” Yeah, I know…… but I don’t see it that way. Really? How so? Life is what you make it. Sure, I didn’t choose to have this stroke, but I can choose how to conduct my life thereafter, can’t I? And boy has it been a great life so far. Okay fair enough where would you like to begin? I don’t know? You pick a day! Okay then, let’s begin on that fateful day.
The day began just like any other day I suppose. I was working at a scrapyard for my brother Frank on the southwest side of Detroit. It was and still is family-owned. Back then, Frank was the boss, my brother Joe worked as a crane operator, my cousin Denny worked the scale where we weighed the scrap, my sister Sara worked up in the office and I was the yard manager and sheer operator. For those of you wondering, think of a sheer as a giant industrial pair of scissors on tracks that can maneuver any landscape and cuts thick steel like a knife through butter.
Just before lunch, I learned that my brother, Frank and his wife, Lisa just had their third child that morning and they named her Angelina. That morning was Tuesday, September 4, 2001.
I worked throughout the morning and around noon, I went to lunch at Arby’s. Yuck!
When I returned from lunch, I went upstairs to the main business office and said hi to my sister Sara and then proceeded to make a phone call. The phone call? We’ll get to that later. During the phone call, I started losing my speech….. words weren’t coming out right. I panicked. I hung up on her. Who was she? I said, we’ll get to that later. There are so many layers to me and my story, just bare with me.
So I walked into the bathroom and tried to collect my thoughts. I started making goofy faces, stretching out my mouth, my reflection did not like what was happening in the mirror. My speech wasn’t coming out right. I started swearing, and even that didn’t come out right. My brother Frank was out to lunch so I went into another bosses office, Al Agbay’s office.
I was pacing around in front of his desk. He asked, ‘what was the matter’ and by that time I couldn’t speak making any sense so I just shrugged my shoulders. He asked me to write it down but at that point I think I was slowly becoming paralyzed. My right hand was so shaky that he couldn’t make out my writing. Figuring I got stung by a bee and was having an allergic reaction, Al sent me to the hospital accompanied by Jim, a sales rep for the business.
Running down the stairs to Jim’s car was the last time I would ever run for the rest my life.
During the car ride to the hospital, I started slumping over. From my perspective, Jim was running every red light he could to get me to the hospital. I said to him, “I think I’m having a stroke.” I remember my grandfather having a stroke when he was 82 and he couldn’t speak either. It was the only thing that went through my head that I could make sense of at that time. Jim rolled up to the ER and a guy with a wheelchair came out to help wheel me in. I didn’t realize that I was paralyzed by that time. My whole right side felt tingly and numb and euphoric. He opened the car door and I thought I was going to just leap into the wheelchair. In reality, I fell into the guys arms as he poured me into the wheelchair.
He wheeled me to the front desk and the nurse asked me, “what was the matter?” I think I said, ” I’m having a stroke,” but the words didn’t come out that way. They stripped me down of my dirty work clothes and took me to have a CT scan. Everyone was on edge. They called my mom and my best friend Danny I later found out. The doctors gave me some kind of medicine through an IV which made me throw up all over myself. Maybe they thought you were having an ischemic stroke? Probably but it was much worse.
I was having a hemorrhagic stroke. Bleeding of the brain, left brain bleed equals right sided paralysis. No different from an aneurysm I suppose. “This can’t be…… This can’t be my fate. I won’t allow it.” My mom got there she told me the bad news. She said, “do you know what has happened to you?” She said, “you suffered a stroke, do you understand?”
I nodded indifferently…………..