I love how these come when I am having an “off” day. The flu is happening in MY house and we ALL are sick!!! But this latest praise really said it all:
Gordon’s presentation was not only inspirational, it was entertaining. His story alone is captivating and he tells it in a way that is both somber and humorous. His use of technology was fun and engaging, and he employs strong audience participation. At the end of the presentation we all came away with the foundation of a personal plan to move forward in our own lives whether professionally, personally or both. Gordon was funny, entertaining, serious, engaging – one of the best speakers we’ve had. I highly recommend him.
Communications & Operations Director
Association of Oregon Counties
Posted by Lisa O’Neill Hill
As a stroke survivor, you know all too well about the ups and downs of your journey. Some days, you feel upbeat about your progress. Other days are harder: You may be frustrated that you can’t button your shirt or remember a certain word.
Rehabilitation psychologist Patrick Caffrey, Ph.D., of Kansas City, Mo., who has more than 30 years of experience helping stroke survivors and others, understands these challenges.
When he was 17, Caffrey suffered a spinal cord injury during wrestling practice. He had immediate quadriplegia and sensory loss. Caffrey underwent surgery, had lots of rehabilitation and tried to maintain a positive attitude.
“I just decided to get up every day and do the things I needed to do get better: eat properly, get enough rest and do the things they wanted me to do,” says Caffrey. He says his right side recovered about 95 percent but his left side didn’t come back well.
Caffrey offers some advice from his experience as a psychologist and as a patient
• Pace your expectations. Recovery from stroke is typically slow because of damage to the central nervous system. Try to avoid coming to any conclusions today about where you will be in the future. Instead, take it a day at a time.
• Acknowledge your accomplishments.“Don’t depend on other people to acknowledge your accomplishment; do that yourself,” Caffrey says. Try not to diminish your achievement by comparing it to the way you did it before or how long it used to take. Caffrey says it now takes him longer to mow his lawn but he still celebrates doing it. He recalled how being able to tie his shoes with one hand was a major accomplishment.
• Engage in daily meaningful activity. Caffrey decided to turn his focus to college. For others, it may be volunteering at a church or a hospital or writing. “If you’re just waiting around, waiting to get well, you’re going to be really discouraged,” he says.
• Connect with others. Socially isolating yourself can be harmful, he says. Getting involved with a stroke support group and connecting with other survivors will help you become more knowledgeable and make you feel less alone in your experience.
• Look at your challenges as a period of learning. Caffrey recalls one patient who avoided the phrase, “I can’t.” Instead, she said, “I haven’t found a way yet to do that.” Caffrey says his periods of frustration are the times where he’s growing the most.