Four days ago I had a ninth month anniversary of my stroke. While I find it difficult to feel thankful for having had a stroke, I do thank God for the many blessings I have received during my recovery.
The evening of January 22 I was standing at the sink preparing to shave before bedtime. Suddenly I felt weak. I clutched at the sink for support but simply melted like an ice cream cone, sliding down the front of the vanity to find myself sitting on the floor. Fortunately I did not fall and thus had no secondary injuries. As I sat there, I thought I needed to stand up again so I reached up for the doorknob and pulled. Of course I could do nothing more than that bang the door back-and-forth which caught my wife’s attention She came, immediately recognized symptoms of a stroke, she started asking me the appropriate questions and of course all I could answer was gibberish which caused me to recognize I was having a stroke. She called 911. Ambulance and fire department are just at the bottom of the hill. Within minutes and EMT was at my side, and an ambulance crew was setting up a gurney. Because the hall is too narrow for the gurney they set it up in the dining room. The big male EMT picked up my shoulders, and with the little female EMT carrying my feet they put me on the gurney.
20 minutes later I was delivered to the emergency room of Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque, a distance of 40 miles. What saved by life was that my wife and I were at home and awake, and that I was delivered to the hospital in time to get TPA in a timely fashion. This drug dissolves blood clots and has saved hundreds of victims of strokes. Before giving me the drug, they had to confirm that I was having an ischemic stroke caused by a blood clot rather then a bleeder stroke. This was done with the CAT scan using contrast and I was soon given the drug before being transferred into intensive care.
I woke in intensive care not being able to move very much of anything. Soon I was surrounded crews of doctors and nurses who would ask me to kick my feet and to squeeze their hands. I could very weakly kick my right foot and I could give a weak squeeze with my right hand, but it was hours before I can make any significant motion with my right arm or right foot. My left side was paralyzed
In the past nine months, I have had physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy in two rehab facilities and also from home health visits. I’m walking with a cane, have partial use of my left arm and do a reasonable job of speaking. I am now getting occupational therapy and physical therapy from an outpatient clinic.
I thank Godthat in the last nine months I have made as much progress as I have. A stroke is not only physically debilitating but also psychologically devastating. God’s presence and the progress I have made have helped me push the dark shadows of despair aside.
In the meantime I’m very thankful that I can move around independently with a cane and have full use of my right arm and hand, Seated here at my computer, unable to move the fingers of my left hand. That means I can only type hunt and peck and am reduced to using a voice-activated app to put these words on the screen. This limits my writing severely but I’m thankful that at least I have these resources.
If my progress stops at this point, I will be thankful for what recovery I have made and make use of what God’s left me with, but I am expecting that the occupational therapist will get my left arm and hand moving again. I already have some movement of my arm and of my fingers. I have lots of stories left in me and would like to be able to type them into my computer efficiently. I am also expecting the physical therapist to get me walking better, and my fondest wish at this point is that perhaps I might run again someday.
A stroke is called a brain injury, and indeed it is as if somebody hit me on the head with a hammer, but I thank God for the comfort he is giving me, the therapists that I’ve had to work with me and the progress I’ve made. I also think God that 53 years ago He gave me a beautiful bride who is now retired physical therapist. She has not only cared for me but has come out of retirement to encourage me, stretch me and work with the other therapists to help me recover.
Thank you God
Reynold Conger is a retired scientist, engineer and schoolteacher who has taken up writing as a retirement career. Please visit his website at reynoldconger.com. To see a description of his books.
His stroke has temporarily put him on medical leave from serious writing, but during this medical leave he is trying to find a literary agent to market his most recent thriller that was finished just before his stroke. He expects to be back to serious writing soon.