Tuesday, September 27, 2011

One Stroky’s Journey: Occupational Therapy Wisdom

Therapist Amy Polite hooks me up to a device with electrodes to help “reeducate” brain cells, nerves and muscles.

Life is not a straight line or a one-sided transfer.
--Amy Polite, Occupational Therapist

Last week my occupational therapist shared the above succinct sample of her take on life. The “transfer” reference is pure therapist speak. Pre-stroke, I was unfamiliar with the term’s use to refer to the movement of an individual from one surface to another, as from bed to wheelchair or from wheelchair to shower chair or bench.

Mastering safe transfers became a major goal in my days of in-patient rehab. And I had a definite preference for arrangements of furniture and bathroom facilities that allowed me to step out with my strong right side.

Life, and bathroom facilities, truly don’t always match our strengths perfectly. Ashley, my occupational therapist in the Singing River Comprehensive Rehab Center, wanted me to achieve SBA status in transferring to the potty before I was discharged from rehab.

SBA is “standby assist.” Someone is close enough to help if the patient runs into trouble, but the person standing by doesn’t automatically give physical assistance. I was pretty confident as long as it was a transfer starting with my right side.

The left side was scarier and I tried several strategies. My most successful attempts involved a number of little steps to achieve the desired position. Then it required all my concentration to distribute my weight equally between both feet, stick my behind out and do a controlled sit. A plop, no matter what the surface, did not count as that elusive accomplishment, the controlled sit.

I did receive my “SBA degree” before I went home, and Ashley’s insistence that I experience both right and left transfers paid off. Our home’s bathroom arrangement was and is not set up for that stronger right side. I have to confess I still do the multiple little steps until I am in the position to safely sit. I am more confident now, however, even if I do remind myself of a puppy that turns around and around before settling into its bed.

I have been experiencing a lot of life’s curves, zigzags and awkward transfers since my stroke on April 22, 2011. I have to admit that the potential fear factor is far surpassed by two things. One is the exhilaration of successfully navigating the unexpected and the difficult. The other is the astounding kindness and caring lavished by loved ones, acquaintances and strangers.

My weather report is definitely showers . . . showers of blessings!


  1. You amaze me. Having never experienced this, I'm just in awe of your fortitude. Keep up the work. as much as it is difficult, it will bring you a more mobile future. You rock, lady!!

  2. I think this makes us all realize just how blessed we are to be able to just go in the bathroom, or anywhere else, and sit down, then get back up. Though it is a struggle for me to get up and I fall back plenty of times, your story is so inspiring!

  3. The things we just take for granted that you now have to think and maneuver through amaze me. Still the feelings of improvement and accomplishment must be a quite rewarding.
    Your attitude and determination is so impressive.

  4. Amazing what we take for granted isn't it? I never imagined being able to use toilet paper without assistance would be my greatest challenge some day. You are correct, showers of blessings on those who care for us and show us the way back.

    Love your puppy analogy. Dianne

  5. very interesting, glad things are going well for you and do you think the contraption on your arm would fix my memory cells? they are really disappearing fast

  6. I'm uplifted by your weather report! May God continue with His blessings upon you :)

    I had no idea how much we take for granted until I watched my daddy go through weeks of rehab, trying to re-learn everything. Amazing...but also very hard work!

  7. I am so glad that you are receiving such good care and support. The analogy of the puppy is a good one; you will get there in the end....

  8. I am appreciate your work, you are doing such a nice job, Occupational therapy The best way to remove your pain and stress our life style and workload is lead to mental and physical stress in our life , but don't worry occupational therapy helps to remove your pain and stress and left you with better working environment.