Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Beginning the survivor journey

At the rehab unit, I start a new life as a stroke survivor

Good Friday, April 22, 2011—That was the day three years ago that a blood vessel in my brain sprung a major leak. It was a severe hemorrhagic stroke.

After a seven-day stay in ICU at our local hospital, I was transferred to an inpatient rehab unit at a larger hospital.

The next morning, Day 8, I experienced my first occupational therapy in the rehab unit. Ashley, the occupational therapist, had come in that Saturday specifically to start teaching me to transfer from wheelchair to potty and to shower safely.

It took me all 27 days of my inpatient therapy to master the rudimentary maneuvers she introduced. That morning she coached me and with the help of another woman moved me onto the potty.

Then she left me under the watchful eye of the other woman and disappeared for a while. When she returned, a striking young man accompanied her. Ashley introduced him as an OT tech who would be working with me.

I could feel my eyes bulge and my jaw drop. I gathered the few wits left to me and acknowledged the introduction.

Ever compelled to fill silence, I blurted, "Well, this is the first time I've ever met a good looking guy while I was on the potty."

Several weeks later, having a male tech help with my shower for the first time wasn’t quite as big a shock.

By that time I had learned to appreciate those techs, both male and female. They all worked hard to keep their patients safe while helping them maintain as much modesty and dignity as possible. And some of the most helpful tips came from their wealth of practical experience.

Therapy techs are among the many skilled and caring individuals who have helped me deal with the aftermath of stroke.

Today I am no longer in a wheelchair, and I am getting on and off the potty quite well, thank you very much.

Those folks so instrumental in my first month as a stroke survivor were blessings. I thank God for them and the many individuals who have helped me since then.

And I am thankful to be here on this third anniversary.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Taste of spring

Blueberry blooms. (Photo from March 2011)

Ginny, blogging at Let Your Light Shine, commented on one of my posts recently that she had never seen a blueberry bloom.  I didn’t see any mature ones either this year.

Rain had kept me out of our backyard. When our “swamp” dried a little and I checked on our little blueberry bush, the blooms were already gone and immature BB-sized blueberries had replaced them.

Previously I have been removing the blooms on our baby bush in accord with tips from Google and from one of our coast Cooperative Extension Service experts. Pinching back the blooms in the first two years frees the energy needed for the plant to grow into a strong, healthy bush.

The spring bloom surgery is no more, though. This is the year I hope to be tasting a few blueberries.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Reasons to rejoice

A therapeutic bridge (Photo by Walter Skupien)

Ten of today’s blessings (Thursday, 4/10/2014):

- Sunshine;

- Catching up with walking buddy Ann;

- Making it to 0.7-mile marker on the Biloxi Bay Bridge pedestrian path;

- After-walk coffee, tea, conversation and laughter at Coffee Fusion with Ann and my husband Walter;

Bradley (Photo by Walter Skupien)

- Bradley, our excellent roofer and a fledgling author, stopping by to visit us at Coffee Fusion when he didn’t find us at home;

- Our big ole burgundy high-rise van that alerts Bradley (and other friends) of our whereabouts when they are inclined to make an impromptu visit;

- News that Bradley is pursuing his writing while continuing to do well with his carpentry and construction business;

- Re-admission to occupational neuro rehab therapy for another seven or eight sessions;

- Tales, laughter and tasty calories for dinner at McElroy’s Seafood Restaurant with Hubby’s siblings and their spouses; and

- The energy to enjoy the day’s events from good morning to good night! 

Reasons to rejoice always surround me, but I don’t always acknowledge them. When in such an unreceptive condition, it takes a conscious choice to invest effort in recognizing and articulating blessings.

It never fails, though, that once I start the listing exercise, I become aware of more and more things to be happy about and thankful for.

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 ESV

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV