Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Monday March 15 - Stroke Surviver to Stroke Thriver

Today your PT is off and the Swedish student is working with you. She shows Tara and Quinn some of your new tricks. Walking between the parallel bars and walking with a cane between the bars. The children were very impressed and cheered you on with every step. They both felt it was worth the wait to see your performance.

After lunch we all go to see your OT. The wheelchair that he ordered has come and we check it out to see if any changes need to be made. It is a basic chair with no real frills. You suggested that a coffee holder would be a good accessory.

The chair is good fit but some adjustments need to be made and a left arm support must be added. The left arm support is essential for the safety of your arm. Without it your arm would have to be in a sling attached to your chest all the time. The sling is good for transfers but not for the rest on your life. You need to have your arm resting in different positions to preserve the joint integrity as much as possible.

You get into the chair. The chair is new with beautifully smooth wheel bearings. It is noticeably different from the ‘clunker’ that the NSRC has loaned you. “How much does this thing cost?” you ask. The wheelchair supply guy hedges a bit and says it’s about $2500. You ask in your driest voice “If it’s worth that much maybe we cut it up and send it in for the ‘Dollars for Gold’ deal that is advertised on TV?” Then you add, “Isn’t there a program that you get a free wheel chair of every organ that you donate?”

Thankfully, we have insurance and hopefully the wheelchair will be covered. I have found the insurance company a little frustrating so far. They have been very vague about what they will cover and very specific about what they won’t cover. I am still waiting for information about the coverage that you have.

The OT makes a good point. We have to imagine how the chair is going to be used … in the house as well as outside. The use can dictate the quality of the chair. For now we will keep the NSRC chair until the new chair is complete.

You tell the OT that you would gladly give up the use of your left hand if you could have your left leg back again. “That is the bargaining stage of grief.” He says. “Sadly, these are choices that you can’t make.”
After the OT session you and I were to meet with the couples psychologist while Tara and Quinn hang out on the recreational therapy floor. But the plan has to shift quickly. Quinn doesn’t want to be left alone on a different part of the hospital with strangers. He wants to see the ‘feelings doctor’ too.

So, we all pile into his office. We talked about our family, the struggles and challenges that we have had over the last months. I think the children got something out of the session. Tara surprised the psychologist with her insights. He said that she was “Old beyond her years.” She smiled when she heard him say this. She already thinks that she is old beyond her years. I know that she will remind me of this from time to time.

After your therapy sessions, we head out to the grocery store. We were a bit of a spectacle. Not that we were unusual site at the grocery store. In fact we weren’t. I saw at least two other people in wheelchairs. We were the worst wheelchair drivers. Narrow grocery store aisles with aisle displays and wheelchairs don’t mix well with novice wheel chair drivers. I think I will grocery shop solo for a while before I bring ‘helpers’.

The other lesson we learned was that it’s quite hard to fit four people, a wheelchair and a week’s worth of groceries into a Honda Fit. I don’t know how long we will keep the Fit. Once you get home, we will look at other cars that have a little more room in the back and legroom in the front. The Fit is very quite confined in the legroom department. I feel like I’m stuffing you into the car when we load in. Sometimes your left leg doesn’t want to flex because of the clonus or spasms that it has from time to time. This fact makes it very hard to get you into the car.

It appears that your new passion and coping addiction is coffee. To satisfy your craving for Tim Horton’s coffee, I got you Tim Hortons ground coffee … actually decaffeinated ground coffee. There is a coffee brewer at Lenore’s that we can use. One of my goals this week is to see if I can get you onto decaff coffee with a lot less cream in it. I knowledge that you will need something to bridge your addiction gap so that you can cope … I just want to make it as healthy an addiction as possible.

Tonight, I read an article about stroke survivors. It is amazing how language can change your mind set. In the early days of your recovery, I thought of you as a stroke victim. A victim of a random act of God that could not be explained. When one suffers the outcome of a random event, you can not think beyond being a victim.

A few weeks later, when it was obvious that you were making a recovery and you were loosing wires and tubes, I started thinking of you as a stroke survivor. The article I read tonight suggested that the ultimate level of recovery is to be a stroke thriver.

My crystal ball is staring to work again. I am starting to see you as a stroke thriver.

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