Tuesday, June 7, 2022


A life-threatening hemorrhagic stroke on Good Friday 2011 changed the lives of my husband and me forever. 

After a week in intensive care, I was transported by the hospital's bus to a comprehensive in-patient rehab center. 

The Comprehensive Rehab Center occupying the entire fourth floor of Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula, Mississippi, was my home for the next four weeks.

I arrived on a Friday afternoon and aides and nurses settled me into a standard hospital room.

A team of occupational, physical and speech therapists were scheduled to launch an intensive rehab campaign the following Monday, but the occupational therapist assigned to me rearranged her schedule to meet with me on that Saturday, her day off. 

She started immediately introducing me to my new reality. That introduction began with practicing how to execute a potty visit without falling and doing any further damage to brain or body.

The following Monday I met my team of therapists. That began my sessions where they pushed me and bullied me into attempting to move my affected body parts that were not working at all or barely working. 

They were a God-given blessing and phenomenal rehab professionals. 

During my four weeks with them, they helped strengthen the parts of my anatomy that still functioned. They also worked to induce the healthy parts of my brain to take over the damaged part and ignite movement and speech.

Those ladies and gents joked with me, made good-natured fun of me, and kept me laughing. They also tracked down a rental wheel chair that was narrow enough for my then skinny behind. 

That wheel chair was a happy spirit booster. When not in sessions with the various rehab teams, I scooted around in the wheel chair, pushing with my functional right foot. It was my magic carpet of freedom to explore and visit with other patients.

Eventually the physician in charge found out I was also trying to count calories. He gently but firmly lowered the boom! 

"You need enormous amounts of energy to succeed in rehab. This is your opportunity to eat everything and as much as you want to."

So I did! 

All of the rehab patients had meals together in the dining room.
At each meal a couple of techs went around checking and recording the percentage of how much each patient ate. It eventually dawned on me that they were not checking my consumption. 

"Why are you not checking my plate, too?" I asked once I realized I was being skipped. 

"Because we know you eat 100% of everything on your plate every time."

Well, that would have embarrassed pre-stroke Linda. Post-stroke Linda laughed until she cried. Everybody else at the table laughed, too. After that if somebody didn't like something or just couldn't eat another bite, they offered the leftovers and I accepted.

The doctor was right about burning calories in rehab. No weight gain at all!  

The one thing the therapists and physician would not let me do was to back away from the intimidating challenges that I faced.

Another important gift came from my occupational therapist when I was soon to be discharged. 

The day the hospital's social worker showed up to schedule me for the hospital's out-patient rehab center, my occupational therapist found me and offered some advice. 

She told me to stand firm and insist on going to the rehab program associated with the same hospital system but in my own town. She said the therapists there were especially experienced in working with stroke survivors and had had great outcomes. 

A plus for Hubby and me would be the 10 minute drive to reach the rehab center in our town of Ocean Springs instead of a 30-minute drive to Pascagoula. That also meant less time Hubby missed from work. 

Her advice was good. My first session, I arrived in my rental wheelchair. 

Ashley, my new physical therapist, pronounced with an authority that I dared not question: "Next visit I want to see you walk in that door. No wheel chair." Then she and her technician set to work making sure that I was moving before I left.

That afternoon when I exited rehab to our van, Ashley and two rehab techs were holding on to the heavy-duty gait belt that was to be an essential part of my wardrobe for over a year. No wheel chair. I was walking.

It was not elegant. It was totally terrifying. It was absolutely wonderful! 

Another plus was that after Hubby delivered me to the rehab waiting room, he could make the short drive to our local Walmart. 

For him, shopping wasn't just a necessity for restocking our food supplies. It was entertainment and a brief respite from what was his 24-hour concern for me. 

As rehab helped me master safe ways to move about and take care of myself more and more, his concern eased but it is still evident.

In the years that followed, those professionals were constantly expanding their knowledge, trying out different strategies and developing or discovering different ways to keep me and their other patients moving, doing, and thinking positively. 

They listened when certain exercises caused intense pain. Then they found ways to alleviate the cause, often by getting a fellow therapist with a different set of skills or experiences to work with them on that particular issue.

They also recognized that if I were not to be homebound, there were circumstances when I would need extra help. Soon I had a transporter--a light weight version of a wheelchair. It allowed Hubby or others to push me around when distance, crowds, terrain or other circumstances made attempts to walk difficult or unsafe. 

After about four years of two days-a-week therapy sessions, I was officially released. 

During the following years, my neurologist would occasionally write orders for a "tune-up" when the spasticity in my left arm, hand, leg or foot intensified. 

The twisting and curling up caused by the spasticity would go from uncomfortable to painful and would increase my risk of falls.

The increased intensity of discomfort especially occurred after Hubby and I had been traveling for a week or more. 

Back I would go for two 45-minute sessions a week for one to four weeks. 

These days I continue using at-home exercises and devices that  physical therapist Ashley and occupational therapist Amy prescribed for helping with the condition of my left side nerves and muscles. 

Hand and fingers "stretcher," AKA the claw

Stretching my stroke-affected shoulder muscles

At the end of my last series of tune up visits, Ashley had me practicing some breathing and relaxation exercises on the gym's bed-height therapy mat. 

I do them daily for however long I can endure just lying there spread-eagle on our bed, breathing in to the count of six and out to the count of 10. It's a daily ritual unless we are van camping.

I also attempt to walk a mile or more with my rollator every day to keep everything else moving externally and internally.

With age, challenging changes continue to crop up for both me and Hubby. 

Even so, we have continued traveling and enjoying life, living out our mantra: Go as far as we can as long as we can and give God the glory. 




  1. I remember when this first happened and the long journey you took with the help of that special hubby and therapists. You took it all with amazing humor and you became my hero. Still are. Keep it going.

  2. It is so good tos see you! I remember very well when you went through your stroke. I felt like I was struggling along with you.

  3. I've just started reading your blog recently so didn't know all what you went through. You are a real fighter and an inspiration to all. God Bless You.

  4. I have followed you for years, but most of this is new info to me and I am so glad you shared this today. I had no idea you still do therapy, at home and away from home. I did not know it is ongoing and never thought about it getting harder as you age.. you are so upbeat and happy we would never know unless you told us.. God's blessings on both of you as you continue your struggle to move..

  5. You are amazing! Thank you for sharing your story. It's inspiring to me to read about all you went through! Praise God! And you DO!!!

  6. You have been through a lot since 2011, and put in a lot of work in exercising and staying mobile. Congratulations on your efforts and determination. Give God the glory for your continuing mobility, as you said.

  7. Your post brings back memories of my time in rehab following two weeks on a ventilator with double pneumonia. I had to relearn everything--how to walk, how to swallow so I could start eating real food again, how to talk.
    Sounds like you had a wonderful team of therapists.
    You are a real inspiration, and I think I need to adopt your mantra.

  8. I knew you had had a stroke similar to Roger's...but it has affected each of you differently. But, my hat is off to the therapists. I cannot believe what they can do. I have loved all Roger had...am especially thankful to the first young little therapist that seen him I think the second day he was at the hospital...she notice his muscles in his legs, and said I am putting him in for acute therapy when he leave here. In no time at all the muscle tone was gone and no one would have guessed that he had been a hunter/ fisherman/knifemake...always doing something.

    He got transferred to hospital closer to home and was there about three weeks...then to therapy in our town 3 times a week. And the speech therapist always spent any extra time she had with him. One of the days, she did not have anyone right after him, so she spent it on him..