Unsung Heroes

(This is a reprint of something I wrote in January but I think it is important enough to warrant another posting)

I was going to write a blog post about this anyway (I have a list) and given my current circumstances I think now is a good time.

First responders (paramedics) are very important people. When something happens to you they are probably going to be the first medical people you see, and could be the difference between life and death.

I don’t think they get the thanks they deserve. Not because we don’t appreciate it but because after you are transported to the hospital you (hopefully) never see them again. The doctors and nurses get thanks all the time (the nice ones) because you see them more.

I thanked the paramedics tonight (one of them lives right beside me). I also found out that if you call central dispatch (not 911…unless you want to deliver the message in person 󾌯) they can pass on a message.

So if your ever in a situation that requires paramedics I suggest you thank them. They don’t do it for the thanks but I bet they appreciate it.

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Update on my stroke recovery

I’ve been out of rehab now for approximately one year. I thought I’d update everyone on where I am in my recovery.

I still get rehab at home by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority Community Stroke Care Service. They have been terrific.  They are still working on my arm and leg with mixed results.

The leg has had the most success so far.  I can get around my house with a quad cane as long as it is for short distances.

The arm has been a bit different.  There has been a little progress on the arm itself but the hand hasn’t faired quite as well.  There has been a bit of improvement closing my fingers into a fist but once it has closed it won’t open up on it’s own.  I have to use my left hand to literally pry open my right hand.   My middle finger has developed a 45 degree kink that I wear a mini cast to try and correct as much as we can.

My brain functions are improving at a snails pace.  My memory got a little better but has seemed to have hit a roadblock.  Storing new things is hit and go. I can watch a TV show several times and still pick up stuff I missed the time(s) before.  Recalling things that happened before the stroke is touch and go.  I am a computer programmer and I have trouble remembering what I used to do.  I look at old work and in most cases it doesn’t make sense even though I wrote it.  I am hoping that as time passes this will all start to make sense again. this happens with other things  as well but this is a good example.

I’ve had two seizures in the last three months.  They took a lot out me but I recovered from each one fairly quickly although the last one took a lot longer.  Hopefully seizures are behind me now!

I’m a “glass half full” kind of person and that is how I take every day.  I don’t think about the things I can’t do but instead focus on the things I can.  There are two paths you can take after suffering an injury like a stroke.  The first is to feel sorry for yourself and live the rest of your life in a dark place.  The second is to live your life being happy that your still alive and able to be with your loved ones and enjoy the good things that life presents you.  I chose the second path.  I can’t even think of going down the first path.  Every day I’m alive is like winning the lottery.

And that’s the first year….

America’s Got Talent

Those people who saw the last act of America’s Got Talent last night saw something special in the last act.  If you didn’t see it you can see it here:

I know exactly how he feels and we share the same attitude.  That is that we are not going to let our challenges keep us down.   If you’re going to let it get you down what are you going to for the rest your life?   Make the best of what you got and live life to the fullest.   There’s still lots  of life to live!

While at first our challenges may seem very different and were caused by difference circumstances we share one problem and that is communication.  He has a stutter that makes speaking very time consuming and difficult.  I have a similar condition with a lot of words but not all.  My strategy is to either find a different way to say what I want, or in some cases just don’t say it.  Another strategy is to use the expression “you know what I mean” when the topic is known.  That  strategy gets used more than I like.

Written communication is an another area where I have some obstacles to overcome.  I still have the same challenges I mentioned in this article.  I think that things haven’t improved in this area but I won’t stop trying.  The final product is pretty good, but getting there takes a lot of time, effort and concentration.  What takes you a few minutes to write can take me hours.

I am going end this here for the  reasons listed above.  If you haven’t watched the video watch it and appreciate what this person had to do to get in front of all those people.   I’m definitely a fan.

btw…  This took about five hours to write .

darcy

I got my Apple Watch – Here are my first impressions

First of all a confession – Before the stroke I was definitely in the anti-apple camp.  Not so much any more.  I am writing this on a MacBook Pro.

The watch came in a box that weighed a lot more than I thought it would.  It was typical Apple packaging – well thought out and made to let you know that you bought something that shouldn’t cost this much 😉

Then you put on.  Immediately I knew it was like all my other Apple products – made to look beautiful but also serve a purpose.  What that purpose was for me was to figure out if it could help me and other people with rehab and then post-stroke life.

I believe the answer is yes.  How will be discussed on my other blog (http://wearables.rehab).  Check it out!

Probably the best way to describe the usefulness is that i’ve had it for 24 hours and it’s already part of my daily routine like it has been there for years.  Now when I would reach for my phone I can now do the same task quickly from my wrist and it feels natural.  Siri on this thing is awesome and I feel that it is better than Siri on the iPhone.  That could be my imagination (maybe it uses the iPhone for Siri) but it seems to work better.

I’m getting tired so I will continue this later.  But for now believe me when I say that this device is very useful and I think has a lot of potential in rehab and post-rehab situations.

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“Can’t” Is a Four Letter Word

The word “can’t” is one of words that I think is used way too often. If you really want to do something then do it. If there is something in the way, figure a way around it. It may take several attempts, or a lot of attempts but at least try it before you say that four letter word. Some times that word may be appropriate but not nearly as often as we hear it.

It’s a word I used often after the stroke but as time goes by I’m finding that the things I thought I couldn’t do I can, I just have to look at it from a different angle or try again and again till I can. And that’s what I think everybody has to do. If it doesn’t look like it’s possible one way look at it from a different angle and maybe you’ll find a way to do it. Just don’t automatically use that word. Use it as a last resort and I think you’ll find you can do a lot more than you thought you could.

Doesn’t “can” sound a lot better? And it’s only three letters!

I think I was attacked!

This is being written after the fact.  At the time it was very scary.  When I am scared I try to use humor to keep calm.  This time was no different.

Last night (Jan. 2, 2015) was the second scarcest night of my life (that I remember).   At around 2:15am I woke up.  I felt like there was 500lbs of bricks on my chest.  After waking my wife we waited about 10 mins to see if it would subside.  Nope.

So we called 911.

The fire truck arrived first.  Turns out my next door neighbor was on duty that night and was one of the paramedics on the truck.  He built my fence and did an excellent job so I figured he must be an excellent paramedic as well.  As soon as I saw him I knew I’d live. (just kidding, but I’m hoping you’d realize that).

They start to stabilize me until the ambulance got there.  Then the ambulance paramedics took over.  They hooked me up to a portable EKG and took me to the hospital.  They wouldn’t let me sit in the front (stretcher wouldn’t fit, or some lame excuse like that), or play with the siren (my wife says it wasn’t on) so all I got to do was periodically tell them my pain on a scale of 1-10.  Tip:  don’t ask them half-way through the trip if 1 is most pain or is 10.  I did as a joke.  I don’t think she thought it was funny.

Then we got to the hospital.  This is when I went through some excruciating pain.  they took the heart monitor pads off my chest.  Half my chest hair went with them.

to be continued…

 

 

 

 

Unsung Heros

I was going to write a blog post about this anyway (I have a list) and given my current circumstances I think now is a good time.

First responders (paramedics) are very important people. When something happens to you they are probably going to be the first medical people you see, and could be the difference between life and death.

I don’t think they get the thanks they deserve. Not because we don’t appreciate it but because after you are transported to the hospital you (hopefully) never see them again. The doctors and nurses get thanks all the time (the nice ones) because you see them more.  The paramedics are long gone, helping other people – perhaps saving a life.

I thanked the paramedics tonight (one of them lives right beside me). I also found out that if you call central dispatch (not 911…unless you want to deliver the message in person and pay about $450 – don’t do this) they can pass on a message.

So if your ever in a situation that requires paramedics I suggest you thank them. They don’t do it for the thanks but I bet they appreciate it.

Year One

One year ago today at approximately 8:00 pm I was declared brain dead.  I spent New Years fighting for my life. January 1 at around 7:00 a.m. I woke up.  I had won the fight for survival and was now starting on the road to recovery.

Here are my observations after my first year after the stroke.

I look at the world from a different perspective now.  Everything I do I do differently than from before the stroke.  First time doing anything can be a challenge but after I figure out how to do it, the more I do it the easier it becomes.

The leg is coming along.  There is a lot more to do, but it is making headway.  I have a great team behind me and that makes all the difference.   I think 2015 is going to see a lot of improvement in this area.  I think the leg brace may be there the rest of my life but I have been surprised a few times already.

The right arm is just starting to respond to therapy.  The last two months have shown positive results and we are trying to get enough movement so I can get on the SaeboFlex program.  I’m not yet there but I’m trying.

My communication problems are probably my biggest concern.  I seem to have hit a wall here.  Verbally I can carry on conversations but they take a lot out of me, are usually muddled, and as the topics get deeper I have trouble getting the words out.  Usually I know what I want to say (at least I think I do), but somewhere between my brain and my mouth things get garbled.   I can’t print or write.  I type but not well unless speed is not required.  This document is about 290 words to this point.  Is has taken about 8 hours so far to write.  I think it makes sense (with some help from Microsoft Word) but I’ll let you decide.   It just takes a long time to get it from my brain to the computer.  I make a lot of mistakes that I have to correct on the way.  I also forget what I am saying mid-sentence, meaning I have to erase what I was saying and say something else, or stop until I remember.  Reading isn’t too bad in brief spurts, but only brief.

There are also other problems of varying severity but the ones listed above are the ones that were worked on the most in 2014 and will be the ones I start on in 2015.  Where I am at this time next year is anyone’s guess.  What I can guarantee is that I am going to put 150% into getting better and it will show.

Coming up to one year

Yesterday I wrote a Facebook post about how it was 20 days to my first anniversary of my stroke and how I am unsure about how I will feel that day. I want to talk about that a bit.

First of all, let’s talk about Dec 29, the day of the stroke. I don’t how l’ll feel that day. Hopefully it will be ok. We’ll know soon enough. Looking back, that day wasn’t bad compared to what was on the horizon.

December 31st is the day that will the toughest. When most people were cheering in the new year I was fighting for my life. I had a seizure that day. The stroke was still bleeding and my skull was expanding because the blood had nowhere to go. The doctors had given up on me, pronouncing me brain dead and the priest had gave me the Penance, Last Rites and Eucharist. Apparently two priests came with him to learn the process – they must have been really sure I was on my way out. I would like to point that this is typical Darcy fashion – if you’re going to do something do it with flair. In this case, die on New Years Eve. Not August 12 or February 5. They are just “ordinary” days. Remember what you did on those days? Probably not (unless your Marilu Henner). Remember New Years Eve? Thats the kind of day I have do it on. Something spectacular – with fireworks

Now here is where things get interesting. I didn’t die. If I did I doubt you’d be reading this. Unless when we die we enter some time warp and forever blah blah… forget it…I’m alive. So now that we established that I am alive, let’s get to the million dollar question.

WHY?

I ask myself this question every day. No answer yet. Maybe tomorrow.

If you believe in god you have your theories. If you believe in some other theory of how we got here then maybe you have your own explanation. Maybe it was just plain luck. Maybe it was because was I have a great family and friends and I didn’t want to send goodbye just yet (this one should get me some brownie points. But it’s true.). I am not sure why I am still here but if it’s because I have a purpose for being here I hope it involves me having millions of dollars (I’ll share, I promise).

What I do know is that I’m here. For whatever reason. And I’m glad. December 31st is probably going to be rough but I’ll get though it and the next day is January 1 and the beginning of a new year. And it’s going be a good one! For all of us!

Piss or get off the pot

l made a statement on facebook that there things about me that I wanted to “make better” but had to worry about the stroke first.

Bullshit.  I work hard every day trying to recover from what happened to me.  But that doesn’t have anything to do with me working on other things about me that need fixin’.

Some of them may need to wait because of the stroke, but the list is not short.  Most of them can be worked on whenever I want.

So I’m going to start today.  Right after lunch.

(That last sentence was a joke)