After his stroke, when Maurice Limberhand couldn’t find the words in English, he turned to his native Cheyenne language. Maurice’s stroke five years ago has left him with problems of memory and speech. But the Cheyenne language of his childhood is still with him.
In June of 2010, Maurice had lunch with a friend and then went back to his home in Lame Deer, Montana. About an hour later, his daughter Maxine Limberhand came to the house and found he couldn’t speak.
“He was trying to talk and it was gibberish,” Maxine remembers. “We were pretty sure it was a stroke.”
With the help of other family members, Maxine took her father to the emergency room. He was then transferred to the Billings Clinic. Weeks of speech therapy and brain exercises helped him get back his speech, though he still loses his words at times.
Maurice is the head of a Northern Cheyenne family with eight surviving adult children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He worked as a firefighter and fire crew boss until he retired in 1994. He spent much of his daily life outdoors—logging, cutting firewood, hunting, and gardening. A cowboy singer at heart, he often entertained the family and, at the time of his stroke, was teaching his grandson Oliver Seminole to play guitar.
Courtesy Montana DPHHS
Maurice Limberhand was in a band in the 1980s called Highway 212.
“Back in the 1980s, he and his friends had a band they called Highway 212,” said Maxine. “Not being able to sing and play like he used to is one of the hardest things.”
At 79, Maurice still lives by himself, though his family is often around to help him. He continues to be as active as he can, much closer to home. His family helps him watch his health and control his risk for another stroke. One in four strokes are in people who have had a previous stroke.
“He had a heart attack in 2003 and has a history of high blood pressure,” said Maxine. Heart disease and high blood pressure are health problems that increase the risk of stroke.
Maxine works for the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Board of Health and that’s one reason she asked her father to let his story be told.
“Stroke takes things away from you,” Maxine said. “Fast treatment is needed for the best chance to get them back. The health problems that increase risk for stroke are common among the Northern Cheyenne, so it’s important to know as much as you can.”
The Northern Cheyenne Community Health Program recommends that family members learn the signs of stroke and get medical help quickly. Fast treatment can help prevent disability. Sudden trouble talking is one sign of stroke. Problems with walking or raising one arm are also signs. People are encouraged to talk to a health care provider about stroke risk in their family.
7 Ways to Prevent Stroke:
Know your blood pressure—it should be 120/80 or lower
Quit smoking. For help call 1-800-784-8669
Walk or exercise at least 30 minutes a day
Eat lots of vegetables and fruit
Keep a healthy weight
Use less sodium (salt)
Limit alcohol to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men
This story is a publication of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.