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.


  1. This is a good day to celebrate your 3rd anniversary of recovery. God Bless you.

  2. A story of survival and those who helped. I still remember visiting you, only to find Walter's announcement, I turned cold and cried. Happy,happy anniversary.

  3. Wow, three years already! It is incredible how far you have come.

  4. Happy happy 3rd anniversary.. we all know how determined you are to be a healthy survivor. you are a real inspiration to me to keep on trying and trying and trying. it works, we have seen that in you

  5. God bless you on this anniversary that you are remembering. Thanks for sharing this with us. Thanks for allowing us to go on this journey with you. You are an inspiration. I'm thankful for all of those whom have helped you along the way.

  6. What a wonderful story of recovery. Sometimes you do have to put your pride aside in certain situations. My mother was having a rough time one night and I announced we were going to the hospital. She refused to go, saying "Look at me. I look terrible!" She refused and that one day's wait cost her her life one week later. That has always haunted me.

  7. I always think of you around Easter time! You've come such a long way, since your stroke, three years ago :) I, too, am thankful you are still here to celebrate this anniversary.

  8. Male techs and nurses all over the place. Got to get used to them., although it is horrible to feel so helpless. I recall those days, although it's been many more years for me. Congratulations. Now get out there and plant those tomato plants!

  9. Happy 3rd year anniversary.
    I admire you and thanks for sharing your journey with us, struggles and wonderful accomplishments.
    It is a reminder for me to be thankful and full of gratitude for each new day.
    Love you and look forward to what the Lord has in store for you in this coming year.

  10. This is a really wonderful adventure you are on, and I thank you for sharing it with us. Sometimes I find life is easier. Sometimes there's a burp or two along the way. Lately I've been loosing more words as I walk better everywhere. Hugs to you from here.

  11. Indeed. They helped my mom a lot in a similar situation....

  12. You are truly brave and an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your journey and struggles the way you do.
    Blessings from Dalamory