Recently I was asked, “how does a stroke survivor
stay in or return to a place of new beginnings and pleasant possibilities?” One that is not just doom- and- gloom even though we know that doom- and- gloom are also necessary parts of the healing process.
My answer to this difficult question was that a few months after after my stoke, when,
I was back home and the pain and spasticity in my left arm and leg had diminished enough, that I could get around.
My wife and I Had a serious conversation about our new lives, together we decided that it was important for me to start doing the things I did before my stroke as soon as possible If only to prove to myself
that I could still do them.
So for me it was not so much about
getting to a particular mental place of positive thinking with the mantra “I can Do anything”.
As much as it was picking particular activities
that I wanted to do
and trying to do them one by one.
( which meant thinking through them carefully and working out adjustments and accommodations that would help me to accomplish the chosen tasks.)
We went out to dinner,
after carefully picking a restaurant that was set up for easy accessibility
Then We tried to go to a movie and again after picking a theatre that I could get into and out of despite my problem walking and climbing stairs. This was less successful than dinner. As I had trouble sitting through the entire movie.
This inability to sit for long periods made me think that traveling would be impossible for me.
I could not sit through a cross country flight back to see my family.
And how could I possibly get to the bathroom
in the airplane
and use it.
Then my mother died unexpectedly. And I had to get home for the funeral.
It was no longer a question, can I do this?
The question became what do I need to do to make this happen
?(not going was not an option for me.)
When I complained about not being able to hike up into the mountains around our house.
My wife suggested that I should ride one of our horses into the mountains and let the horse do the walking.
I thought this was crazy, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do it.
If only to prove to myself that I could.
We slowly figured out how to get me onto the horse and we started by riding for a few minutes daily until I could ride for almost an hour.
The first ride into the mountains was difficult and my left side got so weak that coming home I was leaning off the side of the horse like I was drunk
So my recommendation for you, if you have have had a stroke or TBI
Is to decide what you want to do
what things did you love and now miss doing? Pick something important to you then carefully figure out how to approach it safely.
Because nothing will mess up your recovery worse than an injury
Work slowly and carefully to figure out what kinds of accommodations and adjustments you need to make to achieve this goal.
Some things will work and others will not. Patience and perseverance must become your friends.
I am still not able to run…. But I am not letting that set-back define who I am.
Or letting it stop me from doing other things I want to do
Thanks for listening.
My name is Eric Barr and I hope you will join me next month for more notes on strokes.
no matter how much you want to lay in bed under the covers (the place I was and still am most comfortable) I urge you to get up and do the things you enjoy and live your live fully
See your friends, Enjoy your life. Make some noise.
Remember as long as you are breathing
There is more right with you than wrong with you.