Daily update May 4 to Friday May 17, 2020
So much progress in the last two weeks. Also, awareness of how my body is reacting to medication, diet, therapy and a new beginning. I am going to give you a two-week update, comprised mostly of the therapy and a handoff from Jesse and Linda, to Stef and Rick. As I have been writing about a week behind, I thought I would just catch myself up with this week and last week. And be able to write going forward as current as possible. The improvements have been many and to cut to the chase, I am walking through our home without a walker and most of the time without the cane. I am still using the AFO brace on my left calf and foot. (Caused by a condition called Drop Foot. The AFO is common assistance in stroke rehab, for weak or dysfunctional ankle or disruption of nerve pathway between the brain and foot). A:: the pictures follow the post.
In regard to Jesse and Linda my occupational and physical therapist, with me for five weeks at my home on Mondays and Wednesdays. That ended on May 7. And on May 12 I went to University hospitals rehab in Neuro center to start face-to-face training with stuff for occupational therapy and Rick for physical therapy.
Thank you, Linda, Jesse, Derek and Fran. True professionals and dedicated to getting their patients to the next level. Missions accomplished!
I am still doing easily 10 practices from Jesse and at least 15 from Linda throughout the day. I have incorporated them into my activities. I’m able to either use my left hand or perform some of the leg exercises from Linda. They are both a complement to their occupations and to the people that they serve. I learned a lot from both of them and I use that information for the rest of my life. (Do the therapy, do not fall). Those are two things that you hear from the therapist and they’re very important.
I have had some visitors, and while talking I am doing leg lifts, playing with putty in my left hand or working an exercise band to strengthen my triceps or biceps on my left arm. (I was tested at the rehab center for strength in my right and left arms, my left arm is actually stronger). That’s what five weeks of basic training will do for you. The coordination and dexterity are still not 100%, but improvement keeps coming.
Many thanks to Linda and Jesse. I hope they stop by over the summer when they’re in the area just to say hello and challenge me to a new task.
The rehab center is an excellent facility, great people and they’re practicing social distancing. I arrive to get my ID, take my temperature, make me sterilize my hands and proceeded to the occupational therapist. After the first visit which was a consultation and an opportunity for both therapists to evaluate me. The machinery, equipment and spacing give the feel of the gym but have the serious tone of rehabilitation. If you ever have the opportunity, make sure you attend. These individuals are observant and knowledgeable. They were able to pick out slight discrepancies in my coordination, dexterity, balance in the firing of tendons and muscles. More to follow.
Rick, my new physical therapist met me at the rehab facility on May 10th. It became a religious experience for me. Actually, a flashback. Since April 5th, repeating part the day’s events, or a recount of how, when and where the stroke took place is not worth counting. While becoming introduced and evaluated, Rick and I were looking at my left foot as he discussed muscles, tendons, movement and progress. I shared that the left side of calf’s inability to move or react. Rick went to work. He shared that my strength and disconnect of the left Peroneus muscle/tendon on my left calf. An “Aha Moment” which took me back to the moment I felt the imbalance in my foot and numbness in my left foot and calf, approximately 12:15 PM on April 5th, Palm Sunday. It became crystal clear, that me and my Peroneus muscles and tendons, were going to be interacting most waking hours in the coming weeks and months. I have videos of me in rehab, with electrodes on, using my walker and walking as naturally as possible. A picture is in the collage.
The clarity, focus needed and learning to get my brain to fire and communicate with this area of my body is my dedication. Rick stated the damage done is merely a non-communication between the damaged part of my brain and the first affected area from the stroke. It is a great answer and put me on a mission. I have to learn to fire a message to my left foot, to be on my toes, lift my knee, allow my foot to swing past my left foot and plant my left heel ahead of my right foot, then start the right step, which has me roll onto my left toes and repeat the process. “EASY ENOUGH RICK!” thank you.
This is as difficult as bowling workouts I have used in the past. I have realized all my bowling training (51 years), has been the foundation to learn how to walk again, support my body weight and eventually compete on the lanes, walk through an airport and running down Kiawah Island beach.
I requested of Dr. Richardson and Rick, electrode therapy and a product called Bioness (hopefully spelled correctly) on May 14 at physical therapy. Rick accommodated me with a small battery pack that he programmed to lift my left foot off the ground and engage the left side of my foot to the left. Four electrodes, two just left of my shin bone, two on the outside of my calf. The electric current is not a shock, more of a sensation, that is constant. After about 12 seconds, the ball of my foot lifted off the floor, effortlessly. “WOW! it worked”. Not the machine, my muscles and tendons. Rick then activated the other electrodes, and my foot expanded outwards. The visual was an inspiration to me. Knowing that the muscles and tendons could do their job.
Rick disconnected the two electrodes that fired the lifting muscles and tendons, and just wanted the left foot extension to the Peroneus on the foot. And then the fun began. We walked around the facility to a set up with railings that allowed Rick to fire the muscles and me to step, practice and feel and see the foot at work.
On May 14 I visited Dr. Richardson, neurologist for University Hospitals. It really doesn’t do him justice; he has a lot of initials after his name and I’m sure he has seen it all. The good news, I will see him in August and unless something out of the ordinary happens I will not see him again. He informed me that he liked my blood pressure, cholesterol and results from my annual physical on May 1. He also liked the progress I have made in walking and balance. He is not recommending any further CAT scans or MRIs. His diagnosis is a thrombotic stroke which was a blockage (blood clot) in a small blood vessel on the right center on the inside of my brain. I do have a picture, but I don’t think I’m going to be posting it online. If we see each other in person, ask me I’ll show you. Thank you, Dr. Richardson, and your assistant DeCheryl. I appreciate getting to know you and I’m genuinely happy and I look forward to our August appointment. The good news since April 5th, I have reduced my combined cholesterol to 101 and the good cholesterol, HDL clocked in at 44. My BP has stabilized with reading around 125/70 on a consistent basis. Both very acceptable to my family doctor and neurologist.
On May 1 I picked up a brand-new company car at Bedford Toyota. It was also the first time I drove since April 5.
A life lesson was waiting for Debbie and me in the parking lot along with a brand-new Toyota Camry. Because of the Covid shut down I did not have to go inside; I have some paperwork Brian head to look at and one document to sign.
But the story is about a man in an electric wheelchair that comes out of the dealership, rolls up to a very large pickup truck gets off the wheelchair, opens the driver side of which Debbie and I are unable to see. He then balances himself and goes around the wheelchair to the back of the pickup opens the gate and brings the electric wheelchair to the back of the truck. The gentleman is easily 240 to 270 pounds. He gets the wheelchair up and into the back bed of the truck and with a cane he proceeds into the truck. Debbie and I look at each other, this gentleman’s right leg is missing from above his knee. A very emotional moment for me. How could I ever feel sorry for myself for this inconvenience in my life. And that is exactly what I call it.
Pay attention to your life there are signs and lessons everywhere you go. As we were backing into the spot the gentleman made eye contact with me, I smiled at him and gave him a wave his smile was contagious, and it was happiness.
I shared a quote with family and friends I learned at Yoga practice from early 2018. “Notice what you notice, when you notice it.” It is with me every day.
I had visitors in the last couple of weeks, Alan Papa, my sister Toni, Bill Feller and Paul Thompson for an afternoon visit. Giuseppe stopped by a couple times to say hello and enjoy an espresso. Giuseppe has a mask, gloves and coat. Having spent a month in Italy including three weeks of shut down, he is very serious about Covid and staying protected. Phone calls with Maureen from Port Angeles, Washington a title agent, future ALTA President and a friend. A big-time DC attorney named Bart, checked in on LinkedIn and we caught up online exchanging battle scars. Also, caught up with Sean from Columbus during Bill and Paul's visit.
All great visits and calls. I’m grateful for the friendship and time we spend together.
I received some pretty awesome items these last couple of weeks. A business colleague and friend Brad and his wife so sent me two Warther knives, we have about eight of them already and they are excellent cutlery. I received books regarding rehab and also the mental state of mind that you might be in from an event in your life from the Purgert family. They also included something in the envelope that was really unexpected and appreciated. I received some PPE products from my friend Ginny and Vince. Handy 2020 items to have in the house and auto. More food and wine showed up from John and Leslie. We drank their wine and enjoyed the antipasto that evening.
And almost every day at least a couple of cards show up with greetings from people, prayers thoughts excellent advice and warm wishes. I am touched by all of them and I am very grateful that you made the time to touch base with us.
On Mother’s Day we had dinner with our daughters and grandchildren. It was very nice social distanced visit and meal. Spending a little time together was a treat. We also discussed summer vacation, which is supposed to happen in July. Hoping it becomes a reality. Happy Mother’s Day Debbie and Angela and all the mothers out there. You are loved and appreciated thank you for what you do. See a picture of Debbie and I with, Liliana, Cooper and Lucy in one of the collages.
My walks have gotten longer and my form for bringing my left foot into stride and cadence is getting better. While walking I am working on slower and shorter right leg steps and a more deliberate left footstep. “From a toe lift, knee bend, move the foot to the front of the step and plant heel to toe for the next step”. It is complicated and a process. Which we never had to think about when we were a year old. I have a picture in the collage with me at the rehab center with electrodes on my left calf and walking through an electric current, from the process in the quote marks early in the paragraph. I was happy to walk a cul-de-sac near our home and walking around 750-1000 steps per outing. On May 13th I walked 4056 steps in two walks and over 4500 on the 16th. The walks outside and now encompassed two cul-de-sacs which probably generate close to 2000 steps or right around a mile. We have also walked an adjoining stretch and finished the walk with one of the cul-de-sacs. Today, May 17 I clocked over 5200 steps, a post stroke record!
As an FYI, I finished all 50 years of James Bond movies. I’ve gone through 10 episodes of Hunters, with Al Pacino. Watched a couple seasons of The Money Heist and I have watched numerous rock ‘n’ roll documentaries. One of which I am developing a sales and relationship presentation. The miniseries are a waste of time. I should really read more, brainless activity. To date have received 12 books and a subscription to Wine Spectator, which has not been received yet. Thank you to my Monday morning call in to Marilyn, friend and lover of life.
I’ve also gotten into a miniseries on Netflix called The Chef Show, with Jon Favreau and Roy Choi. You can’t miss this, it’s eclectic and really informative. Favreau is a movie director, Roy is a world-famous chef, it is humbling to see that they are just students and enthusiastically learning along with the starring in the episodes. They want to learn from every one of their guests and want to share their secrets of the trade. Watch it, get hungry, get in your kitchen and create an adventure! Don’t forget the wine.
Leaving you with two quotes from Dove chocolate wrappers we opened
today, May 17.
“Throw kindness around like Confetti.”
“Your vibe attracts your tribe.”