3 things about my stroke that make me happy…


photo by motherdedia.com.au

I had a stroke almost 8 years ago.  Can you believe it?

As I think back, I marvel with how far I have come.  Of course, I am not where I WANT to be!  That is normal…right?  When I look at pictures of me in the hospital, I think about all the people who visited me during that time and I am grateful to all of you who visited me during those tough times.

I said it best in my talk:

After the stroke…

You might think those first few days after the stroke were tough, but they were EASY compared to the next 3 weeks at Rehab.  I was completely dependent upon others for all my needs… but really…. all I wanted to do was just sleep.  But they don’t let you “just sleep” at Rehab.  Recovery is the total focus.  Goals, instruction, repetition and discipline. These were the elements I had to embrace if I ever wanted to get up and get out of my wheelchair, and if I ever wanted to speak again.  That was my Everest, that was my Olympic medal — to get up…and walk and talk and think and function like the person I had been only a few days before.

It was so hard. I was so tired, and my brain was so scrambled – I couldn’t make sense of anything.  In speech therapy, I couldn’t point to a red triangle or a green square because I couldn’t make sense of those words.

In Occupational Therapy, I watched the therapist move my arm but I felt no connection to it.  In physical therapy, I couldn’t move my right leg because my brain didn’t recognize those muscles anymore. My whole right side slumped and sagged, forgotten by my damaged brain like a virus that has been deleted from a computer.  Everything I did or tried to do required all my attention.

How am I now?

  • My right side is at 90%.  I still can’t write, but that is my next goal.
  • Golf is coming back…slowly
  • I am still TRYING to get back to work.  That is more difficult than I ever imagined!

But why am I happy???

  • I walk 10,000 steps per day;  I have peaked at 16,000 steps per day!
  • I love my wife…even after 25 years together
  • I wake up and thank God I am still alive …and I truly look forward to the day ahead of me

I can look at  how I am now….or I can look at why I am happy just to be here. I am choosing number #2: why I am happy just to be here.

Regarding #1: I will eventually get there; it just takes time. Who knows:   When I do this again in another 8 years, I may be cured!  I am banking on it!

When Doctors Say No, Find a New Doctor

Posted by Emily Shearing

Renee Burnett never took no for an answer. When her husband’s doctors and therapists told him he’d never walk again after his stroke, she recruited another team of medical professionals.

Two and a half years later, Harold Burnett, 44, walks without a cane. “I see more and more improvement in him every day,” Renee Burnett says. “They say whatever you get back in a year after the stroke, that’s it, but that is so false.”

Impervious to Pessimism

In the weeks after his stroke, Harold Burnett gained back some of the movement in his left leg, thanks to a physical therapist, who also taught Renee Burnett how to stretch and manipulate her husband’s leg at home to improve his mobility. A month later, the neurologist told Burnett he was amazed by his recovery.

But six months after daily physical therapy and major advancements in his leg, there was little improvement in his left arm. One occupational therapist even told Burnett after a visit that continuing therapy on his left arm “was a waste of time.” Renee Burnett saw the therapist’s snub as a blessing in disguise. “I’m such a stubborn person that I tried to prove her wrong,” she says.

Expanding the Care Corridor

The couple from New Jersey traveled to Philadelphia to seek out a new team of specialists for Harold Burnett’s care. Doctors assured the Burnetts they could have him walking normally again, and in a year they could shift the focus of recovery onto his arm.

With the help of Botox, Burnett is resuming normal functions in his left arm. “He can raise his arm, grasp objects, move his arm out to the side, and he is actually trying to go back to work,” Renee Burnett says. “And this is the man they said would never get out of a wheelchair.”

That’s proof, Burnett says, that the minute you hear anything is impossible from a doctor or therapist, move on. “That [therapist] did all they could for you and now it’s time to find someone else to help you get further along,” she says. “Don’t ever listen to the word no. If we would’ve listened to the first doctor, the first therapist just saying we should be grateful he’s alive, my husband wouldn’t be walking.”