On August 26, 1999 and without warning, my life changed dramatically. A stroke seemed to move like a dragon, raced across the sky and attacked me, rendering me mute and comatose for approximately 45 minutes. Two hospitals later, I was diagnosed as having a possible leaking aneurysm. My recovery plan brought me to a thresholdeither lean on God through prayers from family and friends, OR selfishly on my own, meander through shock, anger, fear, helplessness, then depression.
I have a story called, "BACK THEN," which describes the events from my going to two hospitals, then returning home. Sitting on the couch allowed me to rediscover life. No longer was it important to canoe for hours on a wilderness lake, nor be first to chow down at the dinner table. Just to make it to the bathroom in time for urgent needs was a gift.
After sitting hour after hour unable to speak properly, lift a cup of coffee, turn my head an iota without pain, I worried about ever going fishing, or camping again, pastimes I lived for. Or perhaps being a serious burden to my dear wife, Esther. "Oh Lord," I prayed. "I do not wish to be an invalid. I desire to recover and to fulfill the true destiny you have planned for me. Age 57 was still young.
When I prayed for recovery, little happened. One day, the Holy Spirit came alive in my being and whispered, "Begin praying for others." I did and good things, miraculous things began. Now I wish to share what helped me as I gained insight while praying for others, who perhaps also suffer, or suffered a similar affliction. My whole right side, from numb toes to achy head was badly affected.
NOTE: Pray through all exercises; do not give up trying. Success will prevail. Time is on your side.
Slowly move head right, then left several times. Pain very intense for 1st mth and too three months to move comfortably from side to side. Do very slowly.
Very slowly bend down then up, as if to tie a shoelace. Took me 6.5 years to not have to kneel to tie laces, or even to pick up something on the floor.
Walk up and down stairs very slowly. 2 yrs before I was able to walk normally
It felt like head was in a vice, due I believe to different air pressure height.
Use a comfortable pillow to keep head in immovable position at night. Took 5yrs before any head movement didn't cause terrible pain. I found water-bladder pillow the best. My wife held hand to my head and prayed many times at night and sporadically during the day. RX did not help alleviate pain at all.
Learn to stand still, to build up legs and patience, and allow peace of mind. Fear of another stroke has to be driven away. If I could not sleep, it was very restful to stand immobile for up to two hours, since any move was painful. It took about three months to return to total peaceful all night sleep, without having to stand.
Do not lift or push anything (ie heavy chair, table, lawnmower, shovel snow) until you can do it without pain. Eight years later, I still have problems with this.
Walk daily for at least 1/2 hour, only on flat surface, no hills or grass. It took me about six years before I could comfortably do this without pain or losing balance.
NOTE: About 10 times a day I had numbness beginning in toes, moving up right leg, affecting hand, speech then headaches. Activity triggered these symptoms lasting 10-15 min each time, for about three years, and now rarely takes place.
Try to be very patient during numbness in feet, leg, arm, hand, mouth, and finally headaches. A person has to develop a high anxiety threshold. Pray frequently for endurance and especially others, while healing is taking place.
I discovered sandals were the best footwear, summer and winter, outside and inside. My sandals had a Velcro strap, which gave maximum looseness, since I could not tolerate any tightness across the top of my foot. Any squeezing together of my toes in regular shoes caused numbness in my right foot, then introduced a progressive movement of further numbness to areas mentioned in the paragraph above. It took two years before I could wear a wide regular shoe comfortably, as long as there was no tightness on the top of foot. After a further three years with wide shoes I was able to wear a regular shoe, as I do now.
Note: Without my ability to have proper walking movement and exercising the use of my feet, I developed bunions on the edge of each big toe. This was very painful for about six months. I had to endure much pain as I rubbed each bunion with a hard rubber pad, normally used for rubbing hard skin from feet. The alternative was an operation on both feet to cut the bone, since my protrusions were quite prominent. Now I have full comfort, but I also continue to massage this area for several minutes each night.
The fear of a follow up stroke causes such fear that some people succumb to trying medications of all sorts; each person should listen carefully to their doctor.
Try to walk until you can do an hour each day. Do not overdo it. To me the speed of walking and talking with my wife was the best. A walk is the best minimum exercise to ensure good blood pressure. It was appropriate for myself since I was unable to do any other exercise, which would stimulate numbness from toes to mouth, then proceed to headaches.
Understand that when tired simply rest. Your body will tell you when. Do not fight it since it means you are healing otherwise you would simply drop dead.
Move all affected body parts continuously; stand up, sit down. Waggle fingers, swing arms, move head from side to side, wiggle toes, open mouth wide and expand lips, lip sync, and massage all affected body parts constantly. Sing to help speech return and massage across the top of upper lip.
I did this many times for around a month, and one day I heard a "pop" come from my bottom right nostril. From then on I could speak other than gibberish. It took several months before I could speak properly for more than fifteen minutes. Then I would get tired and the gibberish would return. Excitement also caused me to be numb in my upper mouth. It took a year before I had full speech ability for a prolonged period of time. Now eight years later, I can speak proficiently for about an hour before my words slur.
No sense worrying, otherwise you won't be around to worry anymore.
To all who read this true story; please do not give up. Share the exercises my faith provided me. I, through the gift of Jesus Christ, continue to overcome my limitations. ALSO KEEP A DAILY JOURNAL TO RECORD YOUR DAILY SUCCESSES.
A POSITIVE ATTITUDE:
If your debt load is a problem, contact creditors. Explain the situation and ask for help by reducing or eliminating the interest rate, IF serious about repaying debt.
Fill thoughts with positive images. Watch informative TV programs. Learn new skills. Your daily journal must have your accomplishments, not just the failures.
Stroke is a serious trauma. Stimulate your brain, and create new brain cells. SO, learn to play chess, or other thinking games. It may be painful, but keep at it.
God bless you as you draw strength from His Word. READ the Bible daily. Pray for others. And do not listen to those who may weaken your desire to be healed.
My wife, Esther and I really enjoy writing. It is an excellent salve, in addition to prayers, a great wife and family during my continuing recovery from a stroke/aneurysm. You can contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org re comments on our work. We live in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. Pray for others.