Surviving Stroke

 

Stroke is the number five leading cause of death and disability in the US. It is a serious life-threatening medical condition that often doesn’t give any warning. US Army veteran and entrepreneur Mark Vega suffered a major ischemic in June 2015 and a second major ischemic not long after on January 2016. On today’s podcast, he joins Sean Entin and Dr. Adam Del Torto to share his recovery journey – from taking up running marathons to doing volunteer work centered around people in transition.

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Surviving Stroke… Twice With Mark Vega

Our guest is Mark Vega. Mark, welcome to our show.

Thank you, Sean and Adam. Thanks for having me on.

Let’s get into this, Mark. Tell us a little bit about your story and where you started.

I had two major strokes in 2015 and 2016. They came out of nowhere like they usually do but look at me and listen to me. This is my mystery. I carry a little bit of guilt because though it knocked me for a loop, I am thriving and surviving. I’m doing everything I can to help advocate to others who had strokes or traumatic brain injuries. With some persistence and a lot of love and gratitude, we can accomplish about everything.

Sean, I’m sorry that’s not the answer to the question you asked so let me get to that one too. I’m 56 years old. I’m happy about that. I’m a lawyer for 28 years. I’m very happy about that too. I represent a lot of under underrepresented communities. I’m active in the LGBTQIA communities and have been for many years although I am a white cisgender heterosexual man. I occasionally pretend that’s the real message from me, but it’s not really. I know we got plenty of time. I’m also a veteran. I was a radio guy from when I was a kid and took that tape recorder with me everywhere until I couldn’t figure out how to get on the radio.

I started in college and then realized, how am I going to finish paying for college? The GI Bill saved me. I went to the United States Military. I’m a proud member of the United States Army. Sergeant Mark Vega from the American Forces Korea Network. I was happy to be on the air in Korea for three years during the Cold War and it changed my life. I’m eternally grateful for things. I came out of school and heard a bootleg tape of a guy on the radio who was going national. I thought, “This guy sounds cuckoo. I need more information and more ammunition. He’s not smart enough. Not like me.”

Sometimes you can have a stroke and not know it. Click To Tweet

That’s what I thought with quite a bit of humility. I decided I better go to law school. I went to law school and got bitten by the litigation bug and thought, “Drop the ego, Mark. Start acting in service to real human beings.” I got in front of a judge and jury, and that helped. I was allowed to enable, to license, to authorize, to asked, to speak on behalf of others and be guided by the law in the meantime. That’s what I did. That was the journey I started with many years ago and here I am. 

Mark, you took on running a lot. You’re an ultra runner. Your health was in perfect shape. You’re eating right. You’re married and have kids. Life was perfect. I want to know what happened on that morning, on that first stroke.

First stroke, June 22nd, 2015. I am healthy. I eat well, run, exercise. I didn’t run a lot, but I was exercising just fine. I did my morning routine. I got myself a cup of coffee, and I was going to brief some new interns in the shop. I run a couple of businesses at the same time. I had a solar company that was operating as well as my law firm. I was briefing an intern about how to move some photographs from one file to another, getting ready for a website launch, easy-peasy. It only took me about 90 seconds that moment to tell what I was trying to get that intern to do. It took me three minutes and I wasn’t using the right words. I thought, “What was happening?” I looked down at my cup of coffee and I thought, “Is it the coffee? What the heck is going on?” I tell the intern, “I’m sorry, this is crazy. My VP is going to come talk to you and she’ll square your way. I don’t think I need a cup of coffee. I need a whole pot of coffee. See you later.”

I left and I walked into the hallway and I said something I never said to anybody in my life. I said, “I’m going right to the doctor. Something is wrong. I don’t know.” As I’m speaking, I’m talking like this and I’m struggling for words that usually come naturally. That’s how I’m speaking even to my assistant. She’s freaking out like, “Go.” That was the first indication to me, Sean. I had no idea it was a stroke. I didn’t know what it was. I had no idea, no concept. Physically, I wasn’t having a heart attack and I never thought I was having a stroke at all. All I knew was like the opening title sequence in the Matrix when those green numbers are flowing by. I felt like I’m looking at the pages of a dictionary and the words are disappearing right in front of me. Weird words are connecting and sticking. I was missing simple words that are like jargons. Any “ing” word was off the table. I didn’t realize it right out of the gate, but later in hindsight, in analysis, I’m thinking that’s what happened.

I went to the doctor and made it to the doctor. I was proud of myself for doing that. I never did that before. A doctor said, “I don’t know, maybe you had a stroke. I can’t tell. I can’t get you an MRI yet. Here, take this baby aspirin and I’ll come and see you. I’ll schedule a thing to see you tonight at 6:00.” “No problem.” I took some baby aspirin and I head home. By the time I get home, my wife said, “You had a stroke.” Thank God for the internet. Five years before even then, we wouldn’t have known. That’s what happened in the very first day and that’s the setup to what happened next. 

The doctor sent you home and gave you a baby aspirin. They didn’t intervene at all at that time other than that.

AIH 90 | Surviving Stroke

Surviving Stroke: When you get admitted to the hospital and they run a ton of tests, you learn more about stroke than you will ever do in your life.

 

He was my internist. He’d known me for twenty years by that point. He knew everything that was about me, and he had stroke patients. He was going through the dead thing. He knew also at that point that I had taken other stimulants, for example, prescription Adderall at some point in time. I had not been active. I talked to him a lot about watching my caffeine intake. I was open book here. He was scratching his head and say, “Take the baby aspirin right now. I’ll set you up for an MRI and don’t go to work. Go relax for the rest of the day. We’ll see you in a little bit.” The first retelling that I gave to you a minute ago might have been a little too casual and informal like I was painting a picture that he didn’t care. That wasn’t true. He was on it for sure. It was more scratching his head, “I got you. Take the baby aspirin, go home. Don’t go to work, relax today. I’ll call you later. As soon as I can get you in for an MRI is at 6:00 PM.” It’s more like that.

You seem like you’ve never had a stroke. Talking to you right now, I would never guess that. Whatever you did, it worked but it’s such a time-sensitive window right there. They say, if you can get right on it right away and address that situation immediately, the neurological deficit that occurs is minimal. I’m wondering if 6 or 8 hours, how critical that was. What happened afterwards? What happened that night?

I’ll tell you this right at the gate. If I wouldn’t have taken that baby aspirin, something bad would have happened. That baby aspirin bought us a little time that we didn’t even know it. My wife is so convinced that I had a stroke. She said, “I’m going to take you to the emergency room. I’m calling the paramedics.” I’m like, “Whatever you want, I’m not going to fight it.” “What is a stroke? I’ve never had a heart attack.” She’s like, “It’s a stroke, not a heart attack.” That’s the first time it has an impact. I’m an adult, grown, professional man who has kids. I should be aware of every medical thing that happens. If you don’t have a stroke experience in your life personalized, you don’t know what stroke is. There is no fast. There’s no face, arms, speech, time. There’s none of that. We don’t know any of that.

Here I am saying, “I didn’t have a heart attack.” She said, “I didn’t say that. Maybe you did have a stroke. Now you’re being stupid.” She calls the paramedics. I’m sitting on the bench on the front yard chilling. The paramedics come in and they’re like, “We just got here. We’re looking for the patient.” I looked at them and the word patient was so odd to me, “I’m the patient. My wife thinks I need to go with you.” I swear to God that’s how I said it to the paramedics. My wife comes out behind me and said, “He’s saying all kinds of nonsense. He’s missing words. He can tell you better.” I tell the paramedics, “Let’s go. Can I talk on the way?” They were like, “Yes, let’s go.”

As I’m talking, I wish we had a film of this because I’m very dramatic in the ambulance describing that. Do you know The Matrix? I’m talking to the paramedics like that. Literally I’m losing words. I can tell I’m losing words. You don’t know me because now I’m not talking to paramedics like I’m talking to you, but I tell the paramedics, “You don’t know me but believe me, my job is to articulate, speak, and use words. When I have no longer have access to my vocabulary, something needs to be examined.” They said, “No problem.” They do this special thing around LA like we think we’re going to go to Cedars but all of a sudden, it’s not. They ended up taking me to Hollywood Presbyterian. This is a couple of hours after the guy says take that baby aspirin. They put me in this hallway on a steel table with wheels.

I’m with a bunch of drug addicts who are OD. It was a terrible space. Somehow, I felt at home. I was never in combat, I’m a recorder but I was proud to serve with the military. I got to see some great crazy things, but I was never in “action.” Somehow, when I was wheeled on this metal table, it was as though if I would have died, they don’t have to put me on another table. I’m on a metal table. I was nowhere near that. I was with people who looked like they were ready to do that. It was quite concerning that they put me there in the first place. I’m talking much less at that time because the vocabulary is still happening.

If you don't have a stroke experience in your life personalized, you don't know what stroke is. Click To Tweet

It’s almost as though, if I were losing my breath. This happened many years ago when I got in a motorcycle accident. I couldn’t breathe. I was understanding and perceiving that as I was losing breath, I might never be able to take breath again. The same thing on that gurney. I’m watching words falling. In my head I’m thinking to myself, “I might never be able to retrieve these words again.” I’m around myself with chaos. I’m giving love and attention when I could to the other guys laying on these tables. No women, just guys as it turned out. Hours and hours go by, my doctor called my wife or called me and said, “I can’t get you in at 6:00 but I can get you somewhere else.”

My wife says, “He’s at Hollywood Pres.” He’s like, “What? Okay.” Still nothing happens. I’m there in that room until 11:00 at night. I have no vocabulary. It’s all gone by now but nobody’s calling me. I’m not talking to anybody. I’m not afraid but I’m aware of what’s happening. They finally take me in and give me an MRI late at night. I’m so grateful for that. They checked me in the hospital that night and that’s it. I wake up in the morning and the nurse comes in and said, “I got good news. The doctor is going to see you at 9:30.” I’m like, “That’s great. That’s five minutes.” She said, “The bad news is it’s going to be 9:30 tonight.”

We had the MRI. I got the guy’s results, but they won’t tell me what the hell is going on. That’s ridiculous. This is my favorite part. This is the part that I want my brother Sean Entin to be right with me. Sean would have helped me do this. I’m like Liam Neeson. I jumped out of bed. I ripped off all the leads off the thing. I grabbed my T-shirt, put on my fedora or whatever I was wearing. I ripped off the IV. I walked out of the hospital door. I’m not angry or anything. I’m not avoiding eye contact. In fact, I’m challenging, “Is anybody going to stop me from walking out of the hospital?” I get out, take the elevator down, walk right through the lobby, it doesn’t matter, I’m gone, “These guys are incompetent. This is ridiculous. Sunset Boulevard, I’m calling them.”

I’m like, “Who am I going to call? I’ll call Rhonda.” “I called my wife and tell her what’s happening.” She’s like, “They let you leave.” “Yes, these guys don’t know what they’re doing. They told me they can’t give me the MRI. I don’t know what’s going on.” She said, “Call your doctor right away.” I call the doctor right away and the voice message on the doctor says, “Press 1 if you’re a doctor. Press 2 if you got an emergency. Press 3 if you want to talk to the doctor.” I hang up and I call my wife again, “Which one of these buttons should I press? Here’s what they say.” I can’t remember the words exactly on the menu of the phone while I’m telling her this. I want her to pick 1, 2, 3 and I can’t. She’s like, “Where are you at exactly.” I’m like, “Sunset Boulevard.” She’s like, “That’s not very helpful but I’ll find you.” I said okay.

I call the doctor back. I pushed three and say, “I left the Hollywood Pres. They can’t help me. I don’t know what to do. This is insane.” My doctor calls me back right away and said, “I need you to call this guy. Take his number down.” I’m like, “I can’t. I’m on my cell phone.” He’s like, “I’m going to text you the number. Call him. Here’s his name. He’s at Cedars. Call him right now.” I said okay. He texts me. I can’t believe that happened. I was so excited. I called the doctor and it’s a neurologist, and I can’t get the guy on the phone. It doesn’t matter. I go to Cedars anyway. I knock on the door of this guy. He’s at the fourth floor. He’s the Head Neurologist of the Cedars-Sinai. I got no appointment. I still got leads coming out of my arm. I’m banging on the door. I’m like, “I’m a lawyer. Are you kidding me? A lawyer with a stroke? Can you imagine? I got to see the doctor. Here’s where I came from and I just I got this.” The doctor is like, “Sit down.” Remember, I don’t know what how I sounded like to the doctor because I didn’t have no words.

I’m trying to say, “Stroke, maybe. MRI, no results. Hollywood Presbyterian, I left.” The doctor almost thinks this is an episode of Allen Funt’s show Candid Camera like, “This is a setup.” The fact that I set out the word lawyer then he’s like, “Clearly, it’s a setup.” He’s like, “Real protocol, let’s go. Do you have a guy’s number?” I said, “I don’t know.” At that moment, my wife texts me the guy’s cell phone number from the doctor who did the MRI at Hollywood Pres. How did she do that? When I was trying to get to Cedars, my wife called Hollywood Pres acting like nothing. She said, “I’m checking for Mark Vega.” He’s like, “I can’t find him.” She’s like, “Can’t find my husband? You checked him in last night. What do you mean? Where is he? What happened?” She’s trying to set the place on fire, getting them to chase their own tails to figure out what the hell happened and where I am.

AIH 90 | Surviving Stroke

Surviving Stroke: As you train for a marathon, you’d go longer and longer distances.

 

Her objective is to get the contact information of the doctor who said, “I’m not going to talk to you yet.” I get his cell phone number. It arrives at the same time that I’m in the examination room with the neurologist. He’s still thinking this is a television set up. I’m like, “My wife texted me. Here’s the guy.” He hit the number and it’s the doctor. “This is doctor so and so.” “Doctor, this is Mark Vega. You did an MRI on me last night.” The neurologist picks up the phone. He’s like, “This is so and so, Cedars-Sinai. Did you conduct an MRI for a patient Vega?” The doctor said, “Yes, he’s in Hollywood Presbyterian.” The neurologist says, “No, he’s not. He is sitting with me at Cedars-Sinai. I don’t know what happened. I don’t think he was checked out of the hospital. You guys got to pick some problems but in the meantime, do you have any MRI with you?” “Yes.” “Would you please pick up the pages?” “Yes.” “Please go to line 43.9. Read to me what that data says. Please read the line 62.4. What does that say?”

The neurologist says, “Thank you very much for that confirmation. Do you have a pen handy? I need you to fax this information immediately.” “Yes, doctor, go ahead.” “Fax it over, please. Thank you. I’m going to keep my assistant standing by. We’re going to get this report from you immediately.” “Thank you, doctor.” “Is this is your cell phone?” “Yes, sir.” “Call me anytime. Thank you.” For the first time, I breathe. I’m like, “That’s the way it’s supposed to work.” My celebration was short-lived. The neurologist looked at me and said, “Mark, you have had a major stroke. I’m glad you’re still speaking. I’m glad you’re still alive. We’ve got to check you into the hospital right away. Something is very wrong. I don’t know how you got here, but I’m glad you’re here. Thank you very much. Try to breathe easy and we’ll take it from here.” 

Mark, the protocol is to get the clot-buster. If you had the clot-buster within the first 24 hours, it breaks up the clots going up to the brain which lessens the stroke. Why didn’t they gave you the clot-buster? Dr. Adam, would you know what the clot-buster is called in science?

They’ve got all kinds of different blood thinner.

I think it’s the morphine or something. I call it the clot-buster because he has symptoms of a stroke. The fact that he left the hospital, how did you get from Hollywood Pres to Cedars? How did you walk there?

I’m on Sunset Boulevard and my wife and one of my daughters is picking me up to take me back home, but we don’t know what’s happened. My wife doesn’t want to concern my daughters with anything. They see me walking in the hospital and know whatever happened. Evelyn and Rhonda are going to take me home and we’re trying to explain to our daughter what happened. I tried to change the subject with her. I said, “I want to let you know, I’ve got this. Do you know my boy, Nick Metropolis?” She said, “Yeah.” “I’ve found this fashion model. You know where you put pins in it.” She said, “A mannequin?” I was like, “Yes, of course. I was just testing you. I got one of those for you. I’ll bring it over later.” I totally changed the subject but it was a pure demonstration. My wife was horrified. She said, “This is still happening.” I didn’t tell Evelyn I’m losing my words and none of that. We’re still like, “We need to fix this.” She dropped Evelyn off at home and then took me to Cedars.

People may think that they're eating well, but fasting completely cleanses your whole system. Click To Tweet

Mark, I just want you to know we have plenty of time. The story is so important to us and our community of what’s going on. You’ve mentioned in the past that you’re an ultra runner. When did you decide to run the New York Marathon? Do you want to finish this story about Cedars?

It’s part of that. June 2015, I get admitted to Cedars. I’m in the hospital for 5, 6 days. They run a ton of tests. It’s fascinating to me. I learned more about stroke than I ever have in my life. By the end of the six days, I can feel the vocabulary rebuilding and coming back. There was a competitor of Wayfair drug that I started taking. Within 6, 7 days, the words alone came back. Remember, I was building it up in my head. That’s why I’m talking to you now years later because the words came back. What other things got pushed around? What other things did I lose? What other things could I not have access to that I wasn’t even aware of? I could focus on the word so I could focus on the vocabulary. What happens after the vocabulary comes back. Are there any remnants of my personality, emotional intelligence, physical intelligence, the way my synapses fire? What else has happened? That’s what we’re still exploring and understanding.

To get right to it, after a couple of months, this happens in June 2015. I followed all the protocol. Everything is good. I want to come back in the world. I got to prove to myself that I’m good. I’m back. I asked the neurologist. I think about what would happen. “Can I run?” “Sure.” I start to run. I look on the calendar. I’d never run a marathon before. I decided February 14, 2016, Valentine’s Day, Los Angeles Marathon. It couldn’t be more convenient. I never ran a marathon but I’m going to start training. I start to train. I’m watching my diet, talking to the doctors, taking my medication, and everything seems to be good. I don’t see myself as an ultra runner at that time but I know I’m going to finish this marathon because it’s an important objective to me. I know I did have a stroke but I wanted to demonstrate that physically, I have no remnants or anything. In my head, I pronounced to myself, “I’m going to prove I have no disability.” I’m good to go.

February 14th, that’s the marathon. What’s happened up to this point in time is I’ve been exercising, I’ve only told maybe 5 or 6 people at that time, mostly clients that I have had a stroke. As soon as I got out of the hospital, I didn’t tell anybody. I went right back into work and acted like, “That’s it.” The vocabulary came back so I must be fine. I dive right into everything except I’m smart enough to realize that I didn’t know what anything was. I don’t know what happened. All I knew is I could still walk and talk and was grateful as hell that my vocabulary came back. I consciously made my world small. I went from doing a whole lot of things outside to doing very few things. Both my businesses got very small. Everything got very small.

I was still carrying everything on my shoulders. I didn’t delegate at all. When I tried to delegate, those people disappeared. I realized I hadn’t set up the structure properly at all. I was still way too controlling. Those are other issues that came up during this process. This marathon is going to be everything. I got this. As you train for a marathon, you go longer and longer distances. The marathon is 26.2 miles. That’s February 14th. About a month before February 14th, that’s when you do your longest training runs. They’re usually, 22 miles, 23 miles, 20 miles. You go far and then you don’t for the next month. You do much easier runs and you get yourself ready to go do the marathon so you can bring all the heat on that day.

February 14th, 2016, that’s the LA Marathon. January 10th, a month before, I do one of my last long runs. It’s 20 miles. I got lost at Griffith Park. I made the wrong turn somewhere. I was a couple of miles further out than I needed to be. I run 22 miles but it was no big deal. It was the best run of my life. I knew it, I nailed it, I did it. I finished the training. I’m going to hit that marathon in a month then I got this. Nothing but gratitude. January 10th, Saturday. Sunday, January 11th, 2016, our house was filled with people. I’m making some salad for myself in the middle of the day. All is good. Sunday is a rest day. It’s cool. I make a little salad on the table.

AIH 90 | Surviving Stroke

Surviving Stroke: Anything you can do to increase your blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity to give nutrition and bathe your brain is the thing you need to do.

 

I knocked over a glass on the floor. It’s bouncing on the floor. I bend down to pick it up. For some reason, as I bent down, I went down to my knee. I’m grabbing the glass and my hand was like this. I’m like, “What the fuck?” My other hand was like this. I’m on my knees trying to grab the glass. At that moment, I still can’t figure out what was happening. I’m still thinking I can pick this up but I’m not processing in fear. I’m on the ground kneeling and I can’t get up. I’m like, “What the fuck is happening?” It was crazy. The house was filled with people. I’m in the kitchens. I call out to Evelyn, the same girl who helped me remember the word mannequin. I’m like, “Evelyn, would you come in here for a second and help me? I dropped something,” but Evelyn hears me mumbling. She comes in and she’s like, “Dad, you’re such a goof.” She turns and walks away.

I guess I don’t look like I’m in distress. I look like I’m goofing around. She leaves and my wife slides into the frame like risky business but instead of a hairbrush, she’s got her phone in her hand. She’s like, “You had another stroke. I’m calling the paramedics.” I’m like, “I didn’t have a stroke. I drop a glass. I’m on the ground,” but she hears me mumbling. She comes up close to me. She’s like, “Shut the hell up. You’re going to scare that girls.” I’m like, “Scare the girls for what? I dropped the glass. It’s no big deal. Can you help me?” I guess I’m getting louder. Rhonda’s eyes are getting bigger. She’s calling paramedic and on the phone starting to shake like, “911, send paramedics over here.” I can hear her clear. I’m like, “God damn it. It’s going to fuck up my marathon. I’m going to mess up my training in my Sunday because it’s nothing. I just dropped the glass.”

That level of frustration that I communicated to you, I can feel it. That’s exactly how I acted. I got a little selfish, angry, and stupid. All she could do is shut me down and shut me up. Evelyn came back into the room with me and they both grabbed me under my arms and sat me down. How much time did that took? 7 to 8 seconds. It took me long to sit and happen. They picked me up and sat me down. The moment my ass sits the seat, I look up and the firemen are coming through the door. I’m thinking I’m on an episode of Candid Camera like, “These guys just got here. What setup is this? What is happening?” I don’t say that many words, but I do say something. The guy in the paramedics are like, “Dang.” My wife is like, “He had a stroke six months ago. We think that’s stroke.” The paramedics are like, “Mr. Vega, we think you had another stroke.” “I didn’t have a stroke.” The paramedics have seen everything. I’m no unicorn. They know what the fuck so I shut up.

Against medical advice, they’re going to leave, but they can’t leave until I acknowledge that it’s against medical advice and I’m telling them to leave and I’m fine. Paramedics call Cedars. They get somebody on the phone. It’s the guy on the phone from Cedars and then hands me the phone. The guy says something like, “Mr. Vega, this is so and so. I’m a nurse at Cedars-Sinai. I saw you six months ago. You had a stroke then. We have reason to believe you’ve had another stroke. Do you understand?” At that moment I slurry said, “Yes. I understand. I’m sorry.” I hand back the phone, “I’m sorry guys. Let’s go.” In that moment I hear myself what I sounded like.

Only in that moment that I realized I must have sounded like an idiot before because I’m hearing myself saying, “Guys, let’s go.” That started the second one. The first one, June 22nd, 2015, one side of my brain has a skid mark about the size of my pinky, and then January 11, 2016, another skid mark on the other side of my brain about the width of my thumb. That’s what happened and both of the diagnosis are embolic stroke of undetermined source. Within 24 hours, I didn’t have any issues with my hands and legs. It’s too bad, nobody had the opportunity to shoot me or capture video on the floor because the last thing I tried to do before I’m getting myself up and asking them to help me out is, I figured if I laid on the floor and spun myself around, I was like Curly Joe from the Three Stooges.

That’s what happened. That was the second stroke. After that, I got a blood doctor and a bunch of other doctors afterwards. They still couldn’t believe. This is crazy. How can this guy be 50 and so healthy? He lost vocabulary first on the other side of his brain, now he’s got mobility issues. Stop running. The blood doctor says, “I guarantee you, Mr. Vega, if you wouldn’t have been on the strict diet, if you wouldn’t have been doing the exercises, and if you wouldn’t have been taking those medications before, then you wouldn’t have made it.” I said, “I got you.” He grabbed my shoulder and says, “No, Mr. Vega, if you wouldn’t have been doing those things and this incident happened, you would be dead.”

Give your brain maximum nutrition. The Omega 3s are basically brain food. Click To Tweet

Mark, listening to you right now, you are getting ready for a marathon and you’re getting ready for the fight of your life. This preparation was getting ready for the stroke. The marathon happened. It didn’t happen in 26 or whatever miles in LA. This marathon happened to you not once but twice. Doc, have you ever heard of anything like this in your life? You’re around shield all the time.

That’s an amazing story. Listening to it, my take on it is that was divine intervention. You are here for a reason, Mark. Somebody was overseeing you and you have guardian angels sitting on your shoulder because that’s why they prompted you to train and eat like that because they were protecting you. You’re here for a purpose. You’re put on this earth for a reason because that is the most amazing story I’ve ever heard in my life. You are the most entertaining and exciting storyteller that I’ve ever witnessed in my life. I was there for every minute of every second of that whole journey that you went through. I felt like I was sitting right there with you. You got a gift and there’s a reason you’re here. You’re here to serve other people. I feel that down deep because I’ve never heard of anybody who survived two strokes in a row and came out of it as articulate as you are now at this time. The words you use are so descriptive of the way you’re thinking.

Mark, do you have any questions for Doc Adam here that you want to ask him now? Anything you should be doing, you should be thinking of any supplements. Dr. Adam is one of the leading holistic practitioners in the world. Is there anything that you think you should be doing more or less of? Please ask.

Thank you to both of you and thanks for those compliments, Adam. That feels good. It’s a validation of sorts as I get more comfortable with talking about whatever happened and how things go down. I am very interested in the relationship between proper diet and understanding how consumption intake, volume, quantities, and types are important. In particular, I found that different types of fasting can be cleansing and helpful to me. The combination with that and sleep. That’s my magic. Do you have any suggestions or what are your thoughts on science in your practice with respect to the role of fasting and sleep in recovery?

It’s funny you ask that because I finished a five-day fast mimicking diet. It’s amazing how much clarity I had. You eliminate the carbs, all the crap which even though you think you’re eating well but things like regular potatoes are a simple carb. They turn right to sugar. People may think that they’re eating well but that fasting completely cleanses my whole system. I was telling Sean before you came on how I’m sitting there at 11:00, 12:00 at night and I’m not fatigued at all. The program was called ProLon.

It’s a fast mimicking diet where you do eat but it’s minimal. It got to the point, on day 4 or day 5, I didn’t even want to eat the things that they suggested that I eat because I felt I had so much energy, I felt so clear. What it does is it jacks your immune system. It’s pushing the reset button on your liver. It does everything good. Now, I don’t know what type of fasting you do because there are different types. You got Dan Pompa who does the Cellular Detox Diet. You got a guy who does a thing called the Snake Juice Diet which is saltwater, potassium, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and that type of thing. I never thought I could go not even one day without eating.

AIH 90 | Surviving Stroke

Surviving Stroke: The whole thing about chiropractic is just staying well, and it’s focusing on the function of the nervous system.

 

I could have continued that diet for another five days but it’s the healthiest thing you can do. Other things that you can do once you get back into eating mode is doing things to give your brain maximum nutrition. The Omega-3s are brain food. As far as oxygen to your brain, nitric oxide, NO is the letters for it. It increases the oxygen-carrying capacity of your blood. Dr. Jim Sandberg has this thing called ProArgi which helps lower your blood pressure. It’s ProArgi9 is what it is with nitric oxide infused into the formula. I take that every day. Anything you can do to increase oxygen-carrying capacity of your blood and bathe your brain in nutrition are the things you need to do.

Doc, what about the LiveO2?

Absolutely, the LiveO2. Mark, if you get a chance to go over to Sean’s house and try that thing, what it does is it deprives your body of oxygen then it floods it with oxygen. It’s one of these oxygen-deprivation, then oxygen-flooding type machines. It saturates your body with oxygen.

It takes you up to high altitude, 10,000 to 12,000 feet, then it brings you right back at the sea level in a very quick time. If Mark would’ve come into your office, would you suggest to him to go see a chiropractor for his alignment? Mark, are you seeing a chiropractor at the moment?

No chiropractor. I feel like I’m in touch with my physical body, I stretch and I move, but the answer is no. I’ll be down for that.

Most people don’t think of chiropractors as wellness doctors. They think of more as neck pain, back pain, headache type thing. The whole thing about chiropractic is staying well. It’s focusing on the function of the nervous system. Most chiropractors are focusing on everything below the neck and how the nerve impulse is transmitted. My focus is everything above the neck, at the brain at the source of the impulse where the original impulse is generated, created, and produced. That’s where you sustain your trauma with the stroke.

The thing is it optimizes the brain function by allowing your cranium to move because that cranium has to move. It’s not one solid bone. Every time you breathe, it’s got to expand and relax to allow for the flow of cerebral spinal fluid throughout your brain and spinal cord. As I said, you are the most intelligent and entertaining individual I’ve ever met. I want to hang out with you, but I’d be amazed to see if there’s any higher level you could achieve by having your cranium adjusted and give you optimal level of function.

Doc Adam, we should get Mark to speak at one of your events coming up in the next couple of years. Get him on stages from the chiropractors and the healers you have. I heard thousands of stories and Mark Vega inspires me beyond. Mark, I’m going to ask you one question. What’s your inspiration? What inspires Mark Vega?

I’m inspired by how much we can learn every day no matter how old we are when every day moves forward. The more I look in, the more vulnerable I’m willing to be, the more open I can be about myself, and be true to myself, then I can get inspiration from the way the universe works, and then I can be of service to others and myself. I’m inspired by the power of radical self-care and open-mindedness. That’s it for me. Of course, I love nature, people, my kids, and my everything but it’s got to be something inside. If we are open to ourselves and I’m open to know that I don’t know anything and I don’t know much, I’m in control of very few things and I can live with that every day, I try to be of service to myself and to the world, that’s all I need.

Mark, I got to tell my love for you and I’m glad that we reconnected. I give you kudos for sharing this story because the world needs to hear this. I thought my story was interesting or the others, but your story takes to the next level. You, me, and Adam are going to go out there and we’re going to give back. It’s like I say, it’s no longer the ABC, Always Be Closing. It’s now the ABS, Always Be of Service.

It’s an amazing story. I didn’t want the story to end. I wanted you to keep going. There’s got to be more. I was hungry for more.

Thank you, Adam. Thank you, Sean, very much.

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About Mark Vega

AIH 90 | Surviving StrokeMark is a US Army veteran, LGBTQ+ ally, stroke-survivor and addiction recovery advocate and entrepreneur. (www.incitelawgroup.com) You can find Mark presenting in small intimate settings and wired for sound for large audiences. Everyone evolves through transitions and Mark’s expertise is helping people do just that. (www.lawoftransitions.com) He has worked as a strategic deal maker with nearly 30 years of experience as a team builder, leader and advocate in the media, entertainment and marketing industries.

He cut his teeth in the US Army as a field reporter and television anchor of the American Forces Korea Network and then as a civilian late-night talk radio host in markets across the country. Appreciating the power and protections of the constitution, Mark transitioned into a First Amendment and then intellectual property lawyer.

Mark also co-founded Omelet, the country’s first 2.0 ad agency that pursued a 50/50 business model with ½ of the company’s efforts focusing on work-for-hire advertising and marketing and ½ the development and exploitation of intellectual property owned or controlled by the agency often in conjunction with its brand clients. (www.omelet.com)

Mark currently volunteers as the Judge Advocate for the legendary Hollywood Post No. 43, The American Legion, Department of California. (www.post43.org)

After surviving two major strokes in 2015 and 2016, Mark took up long distance running and completed a couple of marathons (including the NYC!) before discovering his love of ultra-running clocking 50k events as often as he can (pending schedule changes mandated by the whims of his most amazing 17-year old twin girls.)

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