To start, I should tell you who I was and who I am now. Prior to the stroke, I was an active 61-year-old male (no, I’m not a female now) who enjoyed life. I loved to fly fish, play pool on Friday night, and play guitar any chance I got (usually quite a lot). I had a loving wife Mary and two loving daughters Johanna and Emma who I enjoyed going out to dinner with and talking to and just being with in general. I also had a job I loved (but not so much the boss!). This is a short paragraph but suffice it to say that I was a happy camper. And I was not a writer or a journalist. So bear with me on the writing!
And now I am a stroke survivor. I was 61 years old in 2008 when I had back to back strokes (due to a clot from a carotid dissection) and at the time I was healthy with blood pressure and cholesterol levels within acceptable limits. The first stroke was rather mild. However, the second one was more severe causing me to lose the use of my left side. I had been playing guitar all afternoon when eventually I noticed I had aches on the right side of my neck and shoulder. So I decided to stop playing for a while and went upstairs to have dinner. Since the aches did not go away I decided not to play guitar anymore and instead laid down on the couch to watch TV. After about 45 minutes of watching TV I noticed a black spot in the lower right side of my field of vision. When this did not go away for a while my wife Mary and I decided to go to the hospital emergency room. When we arrived at the emergency room a short time later they took me into the check-in area rather quickly. As I was sitting at the desk checking in a nurse behind the desk noticed that the left side of my face suddenly drooped. She told me to follow her and because I was dizzy they had to help me back to the ER and they put me in a bed. As I was laying in the bed wondering what might be happening I still had the use of my left side. I was even able to position my fingers into guitar chords and thought to myself, "This is not bad at all and when can I go home?"! But they kept me in the ER overnight for observation and eventually I went to sleep. So Mary went home for the night and would return in the morning. However, at midnight I had the second stroke that was more severe and woke up in intensive care. And that stroke was the one that left me with paralysis on my whole left side and I spent a week in intensive care. Luckily, I made it through that week and not too long after was sent to Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford Connecticut for inpatient rehabilitation.
As an inpatient at Gaylord Hospital for a month they taught me how to walk again without a cane and my left side paralysis was upgraded to hemiparesis but we did no work on my spastic hand. So to sum it up, except for the neuropathy pain I have, I’m in pretty good shape. I can walk and talk at the same time (and chew gum) and I can drive my car. However, since my left hand is still spastic there are many things I can’t do. I’m right hand dominant and it’s amazing how often I used my left hand without even thinking about it before. For instance, for me, there would be playing guitar, playing pool, fly fishing, and most importantly picking up my two year old grandson. And by the way, since my stroke was prior to my grandson being born I have yet to pick him up by myself. Some other bilateral activities of daily living are: eating, bathing, dressing, raking leaves, etc. but you get the idea. All these things, by the way, can be used as rehabilitation exercises. And although I can’t do these things now I will be able to do them in the future because for me “giving up is not an option”. I hope all of you out there who have had a stroke adopt the same saying. For no matter how long it’s been since your stroke you can always get better than you are now. No matter what anybody may say. You just have to have focus and patience. Especially, focus and patience.
Today, I ‘m a 69-year-old semiretired stroke survivor for eight years now. And I am still not a writer or a journalist. But luckily, I still have a loving wife (same one, thankfully) and two loving daughters (they’re the same, too, only older!). And we all still like getting together.
Plus, we have some new additions to our family our daughter Johanna got married so we have a new son-in-law Nathan and a grandson Jonathan. So as you can see, I am and should be a pretty happy guy now that I’ve got the depression in check. And since I do I’m still a happy camper.
Ah yes, depression, a little note about that. Depression can be the worst enemy you have for your recovery. Believe me I know. Procrastination is a bad one too. Hopefully, you can get your depression in check before you start your fantastic journey. And procrastination is bad because you never start the journey. Remember, “If you do not step forward, you will always be in the same place” (Nora Roberts). I procrastinated a lot on my journey and stopped the journey altogether and often thought, “what if I had kept up doing those exercises. How far along would I be at this point?” This question causes depression. But it’s nice to know that it can be cured by you without medication! Just start doing your exercises again! Remember, "It's not how many times you get knocked down that count, it's how many times you get back up." (George A. Custer).
Please leave comments on the blog page or send me an email: Let me Know someone is out there!