by Richard L. Provencher

On August 24th 1999, at precisely 9 PM, I suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, or bleeding from a brain artery, a burst aneurysm. I read the mortality rate from such a stroke is 45% and is caused by a weak spot in the arterial wall. God is good. I am alive. And prayers do work.

Today is May 15, 2009 and my health continues to improve dramatically. Typing on my computer assists my brain to think, create short stories and poems, enabling brain cell growth. When I think about so many others with severe limitations, it makes me truly sad. They remain in my daily prayers.

This missive is written for those who may have a similar situation, perhaps a relative or friend enduring similar challenges. If any thoughts expressed here are helpful, then wonderful. As part of my stroke recovery, I find it necessary to follow a daily regimen by occupying my mind, and at the same time assist my body to a more complete recovery.

Approaching the cusp of age 67, I feel good, worthwhile and caring. To write words of encouragement and understanding is humbling since they come from a grateful person, having a wonderful wife, great memories and retaining a future.

A good sleep is necessary, with prayers before shut-eye, and beginning the day with prayers. It is a blessing I am able to share these times with my wife.

Eating breakfast, followed by lunch and supper is important. My wife is a great cook. Regularly missed meals are not healthy. It is possible to get a caregiver from some agency to provide a meal/s and to assist in keeping an apartment or house clean.

Personal cleanliness, washroom, tub and living facilities need regular cleaning;
Clean clothes daily, complete regular clothes washing;
Daily walking, reading newspapers, listening to the news activates the body;
A regular ride by bus, car or with family/friends prevents isolation;
Volunteering, if able, can provide friendship and worthiness;
Readingsilently & out loud is good for thinking and speaking;
Rubbing limbsarms, upper thighs while watching TV is good for circulation;
Massaging feet before bedtime is soothing, as well as hand knuckles;
Always keep body warm since circulation may not be up to par since the stroke;
Take up a hobby, something within which you can lose yourself;
Play chess, cards, write a journal, etc. to stimulate the mind;
Write a letter, phone someone, keep in touch with family and friends;
Rest often, lift only small items, walk at a comfortable pace;
Be extremely careful shoveling snow, or mowing lawnpreferable not to;
Drive (if allowed) short distances to practice sharpness, before any long trips;
Take all necessary medications, and visit your Dr. regularly;
Arthritic pain in shoulders or hands may be from inactivity--massage is helpful;
Any persistent pain should be reported to your doctor;
Sandals are good to prevent toes bunching up and creating foot numbness;
Check with Dr. before taking liquor to ensure medications are not compromised;
Make sure a tub has a support bar and non-slip mat, to prevent falling;
Bend down, turn around and use steps slowly to prevent dizziness;
Lock car doors and home doors at night for peace of mind;
Check stove is off before leaving house;
Wear a hat in the sun; join a church for fellowship:
Do not have large amounts of cash in house--keep in the bank;
Loosen or take off belt, if sciatica nerve is giving pain to hipsthis may help;
Do not have a private telephone number, otherwise how can family contact you;
Make sure someone in family knows where you are going, if leaving town.

Note: If your loved one, whether living with a family or alone in their apartment/home is in need of any of the aforementioned thoughts, then follow through on them. They will thank you for it, perhaps only inwardly. What is expressed above could easily apply to your loved one. Rather than just sit and kill time, engage the person in conversation, be patient for their responses and rub their limbs as a contact of enduring love.

PS. The listings above may seem onerous, yet they are what one goes through one's mind each day. I thought, after my stroke, I may need a list of "what to do next" and so thankful my wife was nearby to help remind me. Imagine a recovering stroke victim on their own? It would be difficult, and that is why human contact is so precious, either by letter/card, which we all look forward to reading, or telephone.

In conclusion, finally you say, remember (at least from this man's viewpoint) a man deals with fears, after his stroke; will he recuperate to the point of not being dependent? What about income to pay the bills? Will grandchildren be unnerved by any physical limitation? Will his children or friends stop sharing the news of the day, thinking they are a burden? No. Have contact, share your hugs and never stop loving that special person.

* * *

Richard L. Provencher 2009
All Rights Reserved

Richard enjoys writing poems; many of which have been published in Print and Online. He and his wife, Esther are also co-authors of stories and a print novel. They are "born again" Christians and very busy in their church, Abundant Life Victory International, in Bible Hill, Nova Scotia.

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