Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Stroke Survival ~ "Please Sir, I Want Some More."

I have come to the realization that stroke survivors are a glutton for punishment in regards to physical and occupational therapy. We are like Oliver in Charles Dicken's play Oliver Twist...'Please, sir, I want some more.'

I find myself back in physical therapy after my latest round on Botox injections. I laid or sat on the mat for the initial evaluation and I'm talking to the therapist. "A little more, pain level about a 5, that's it." Because the spasticity kicks in and my pain level shoots to about a 7. I feel like Oliver being the only voice speaking up in a large group.

Granted other aphasic stroke patients can't verbalize as well as I can. Many others just do not speak up. I tend to be very vocal. I'll talk you through my therapy routine. If you don't communicate with your therapists, you are only hurting yourself.

I call my therapist a terrorist to her face and she laughs. She knows I don't really mean it. I asked for this, almost demanded it. It's the only way for me to regain the use of my affected side. I know if my limits are not pushed there is no improvement.

I use pain as an indicator. I'll push until I reach 7 out of 10 because even my heart attack was only a 7 out of 10. Then have been a few occasions when I've hit a 10. When I was shot. When I was in a helicopter crash. When I fell down a flight of stairs in an apartment complex and broke several bones. It is not an enjoyable feeling. At 7, I may have tears rolling down my face and my words will catch. At 10, there will be tears, my mouth will open and close but no sound will come out. So if I'm talking to you, I'm fine.

Even if I can't speak like the early days of my stroke, the nurses and I worked out a set of signals. At 7, my hand will be slapping the bed. At 10, my eyes are shut tight and my functioning hand is in a fist. Again, if I'm making noise, I'm okay.

In some ways, I think my therapists appreciate my candor. I have worked with many of them over the years on various assorted parts of my body. I know they don't intentionally want to do me harm. Their job is to help me get better. In my mind, if I don't tell them; they don't know. I am very opinionated and vocal so you can image how my aphasia affects me.

I'm always fair. I give them the benefit of doubt. I weigh
everything in pros and cons. Nothing is all terrible or all fantastic. I'll try anything until I can prove it doesn't work. There have been plenty of times I've been skeptical and been proven wrong.

Like the OT's use of the fluidotherapy machine on my paralyzed hand and wrist. I couldn't see how grit and warm circulating air would enable me to move my hand. I thought it was a useless, waste of time for about a month. Then I noticed how relaxed my hand and wrist were after spending a few minutes in the machine. I'm not totally sold on it yet, but I'm starting to see some benefits. Now, I'll ask for it or paraffin before stretching.

While I will work my paralyzed extremities at home. I'll wearing the braces and supports until pain causes me to take them off. I'm proactive in my therapy or as much as I can be. So haven't the therapists taught me how to do everything by now? Probably. Possibly enough for me to do most at home, so why do I go? They can get better angles working on and with me than I can do by myself. I've used headboards, footboards, shower curtain rods, and assorted other things to mimic what they do at home, but still it takes two hands and sometimes a knee to pull and stretch muscles out to the fullest and keep everything aligned. That I can't do by myself.

So I'll continue to be a glutton for punishment and ask, "Please sir, I want some more."

Nothing is impossible with determination.


  1. You absolutely have to take charge of your health like this--it's the only way to really make progress. Good for you for knowing that!

  2. I believe everyone should be more proactive in the choices in life.

  3. You had cancer 4 times, a heart attack, a stroke, you were in a helicopter crash, and you fell down a flight stairs??? Am I missing anything? Survivor is not the word for you.

  4. Yeah Amy, a whole bunch more but not mentioned here. LOL So what is the word for me?

  5. I've been trying to think of a good word for you and I failed. I think we need to come up with a new word.


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