Thursday, June 9, 2011

One Stroky’s Journey: Celebrating Success

Husband Walter and I just returned from a get-together honoring almost a dozen employees who are retiring July 1, from the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, where I worked until my own retirement May 1 2008. It was a treat to see former colleagues and wish them all the best as they move from the stage of life in which they spent years solving biological mysteries about the plants and animals of the northern Gulf of Mexico. Plus it was a chance to see and thank lots of folks who prayed for me and are continuing to pray for me during my stroke journey.

In typical GCRL coast-casual style, a tent and buffet were set up on the beach near the Lab entrance. Hubby and I were happy that we could join the celebration of the successful careers of these scientists and support staff who have contributed so much to the Lab’s stellar reputation. In doing so Walter and I celebrated another post-stroke first—my first trip across uneven terrain with my cane, including negotiating about 40 feet of soft sand. Oh, and of course, successfully carrying on conversations and enjoying tender ribs, and other tasty fare without any major mishaps while dining al fresco.

I am so blessed that Walter and other people surrounding me enthusiastically celebrate such small incremental successes with me. It is encouraging.

While it is on my mind, here are a few tips for conversation with a stroke survivor, or, at least, this stroke survivor that I have learned on this journey:

Make sure you are facing me. If there is background noise, get closer to me.

Ask about what I am experiencing now, then really listen, especially for successes; then acknowledge the successes; don’t ignore them.

Share, very, very briefly, the happy successes about another stroke survivor if you want to.

But don’t give a lot of suggestions based on how another stroke survivor got various functions back. Assume that I am actively doing my part toward complete recovery. Every stroke is different, and my therapists have already assigned a multitude of exercises specifically for Walter and me to do daily. Although your examples and suggestions are well-meaning, they imply that what I am doing is not getting results that are good enough or fast enough.

Similarly, I know you are concerned because you care about me, but don’t ask every time we talk if the feeling is back in my hand or leg. The timing on that is not something I can control. Again, just give me a chance instead to talk about what is going well, and when the feeling comes back I will tell you.

Save the complaints about health, work, spouses, or relatives for another confidante. (None of my wonderful visitors have done this, but I did have to regularly divert the conversation with one dear lady in rehab with me. I am happy to report that she eventually began regaining her strength and along with it a more positive attitude. Negative words and body language can quickly spread discouragement.)

Do tell me briefly, what exciting, funny, and happy things are going on in your life. I am interested, and it brightens my day.


  1. Thanks for the helpful tips :)and thanks for sharing your journey to recovery. I'm glad the outing was successful (and fun!).

    As for us, we are two weeks away from the wedding of our youngest son. The countdown frenzy has I continue to deal with health issues.

  2. What important writing your are doing, Linda - not only for you but also for the rest of us. I think you are amazing.

  3. It is so good that you are getting out and about, and that you understand and are prepared to state your needs. Inspirational. Every Blessing

  4. How wonderful about the uneven ground!! I have a hard time with it myself because of my knee, so I know how tricky it is. This is a big step! You seem to be coming along just wonderfully, and I am so happy!!! Sounds like a wonderful outing and I'm so glad you were able to go and are that much better!!! I know that you will recover completely!

  5. whooo hoooo on the beach AND a buffet. my kind of party. thanks for the tips, i stored them in my memory bank. they sound good to me

  6. These are points well taken Linda. I'm so happy you were able to go to the party and bravo for the steps of improvement. Walking in sand is never easy. A+++ for you and your wonderful husband.

  7. I agree with your helpful tips. Notice I have not offered you any advice about what to do to get well. Tne truth is it would not matter anyway. Every journey is different on the road to recovery. Dianne