Part 6 — By Chris Martin
May is stroke awareness month so I was featured on the BJJ Brick podcast that launched in May of 2018 which was almost one year after I had my stroke on the BJJ mats. In that episode we talked about how training BJJ caused an injury to my neck that ultimately caused a stroke, what happens when someone gets a torn carotid artery, how younger people get strokes, and we discussed ways to tell if someone is having a stroke (FASTER) Face, Arms, Stability, Talking, Eyes, React.
After the podcast a listener names Christopher Lieb reached out to Byron with an email that read:
I really enjoyed the episode with Chris Martin. I didn’t know there were that many other instances of artery dissections due to BJJ. I really thought I was alone in my experience.
When my strokes occurred on the mat, I was fortunate that one of my training partners immediately recognized the symptoms and thought it was a stroke. I could still talk at this point but my equilibrium was completely gone, I couldn’t open my eyes without vomiting instantly. I still managed to argue with him and told him I just needed to sleep it off. Fast forward to me in the emergency room shortly thereafter being told I had 3 strokes. I couldn’t move from the waist down and even the slightest turn of my head would make everything appear to be spinning at 100 mph. Luckily for me the doctor working in the ER that night opted not to send me into surgery to have a stint put in, since I was a healthy, in shape 30 year old. She consulted with neurosurgeons and cardiologist throughout the state and determined to treat me strictly with heavy doses of anti platelets instead to prevent further clotting.
After 6 days in the ICU we began some PT to get me mobile again. Relearning how to walk on my own was cake compared to dealing with the daily shooting pains in my head. I could only sleep sitting up for short periods of time as anything touching the back of my head was unbearable. Since I couldn’t train BJJ I started going to the gym and just walking on the treadmill everyday to regain my balance. This turned into a light jog everyday and after about 2 months I was running 10+ miles a day and started lightly training bjj again.
My training intensity has picked back up to 100% over the last year because I have great training partners that do not go for chokes during our rolls. Im happy to say that I helped increase the arm bar and leg lock proficiency in my gym tenfold since my injury, which is what really matters. I do think I get wrist locked out of spite by some of the higher belts on occasion though. The artery that was damaged has since “capped” itself off for lack of a better word. It has not reconnected and there is no blood flowing through it anymore. DRs said it will never heal which is good and bad at the same time. I have some very minor equilibrium issues when I invert but otherwise there are no lasting problems so far.
I really just wanted to say thanks for another great episode that really hit home with me. Sorry for the drawn out message.
P.s I received my stickers and patch. It will be going on my truck. I will send a picture of it once it’s on there.
P.s.s I was awarded my blue belt last night after 23 months of training! 16 months after my accident.
After receiving this email Byron reached out to me with Chris’s information and Chris agreed to let me interview him so that I could learn more about his story, and his BJJ journey to date:
After speaking with Chris about his accident and his experience on the Jiu Jitsu mats since his stroke I am pleased to hear that his training still continues and that his school and training partners have adapted to his training needs to ensure that he could continue to do what he loves to do.
Chris’s story is not unlike other stories that I have heard about from other practitioners who had strokes from Jiu Jitsu but his story and the details that he shares definitely helps us to identify symptoms and warnings of strokes from BJJ that could have save a life.
Check out other references and similar stories:
Part 5 of this series — https://medium.com/@bizjitsu/a-stroke-from-carotid-artery-dissection-from-jiu-jitsu-32db9bcf1b47
Part 4 of this series — https://medium.com/@bizjitsu/bjj-after-stroke-aarons-story-da3dff7fe0b8
Part 3 of this series — https://medium.com/@bizjitsu/another-stroke-from-bjj-part-iii-another-story-b6916f2890d3
Part 1 of this series — https://medium.com/@bizjitsu/my-stroke-my-story-ff01f4924d68
As always if something like this has happened to you or someone that you know please reach out to me at email@example.com.
Chris Martin @BizJitsu