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Archive for May, 2010

As usual – so much to say and it may or may not be related to each other.

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So remember about my shoulder being slightly dislocated? Well, the physical therapist said not to move it to pain (because the tendons are stretched and loose and I could dislocate it again easily). Well, when you baby a shoulder after injury, Voila! frozen shoulder. Frozen shoulder = limited movement and pain. Ugh. More PT. Time for me to buy stock in PT. (hee! I accidentally typed PYT & of course Michael Jackson ear worm commenced!)

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I continue to volunteer in the hospital, 80% of my time is spent between ICU (intensive care unit) and CCU (coronary care unit) and 20% is in the stroke/neuro unit! Yep! I have four stories to share of my first experiences with strokers.

My first – sweet 62 year old hemorrhagic stroker who was a charmer (more than I thought too!). One of the nurses in ICU snagged me while I was stocking supplies and pretty much just shoved me in his room. We got to chatting and the poor guy got firehosed (I just blurted a ton of information at him). He tried valiantly to slow me down & when I finally felt like I had served him well enough, I took a breath and actual conversation happened. He told me how it happened (every stroker needs to tell their story – it is such a huge and important part of processing and recovery) and how he was feeling. It was 6:00 pm when we were talking and his stroke had occurred early that morning while he was at work. His speech had already improved, his face was no longer paralyzed, he had movement – but not feeling – in his leg, and *seriously, before my freaking very eyes* he was starting to get movement back in his arm. Here is my shame – I was jealous of his stroke. Yes, I realize how crappy that makes me. I felt awful but acknowledged the feelings and continued to be positive for him.

I met him on a Wednesday evening and my next shift was Sunday. I was looking forward to seeing his progress and rejoicing with him. I got to ICU & he wasn’t in the room he was in previously so I looked him on the computer system – a different room. The computer had to have been wrong – the guy in there didn’t look like my stroker, he was on a ventilator. I contacted his nurse and asked after him. Yes, the vented guy was my stroker. He had several follow-up strokes and was dying.

Gulp.

I met his wife and gave her my condolences. I almost met his fiance (told you he was a charmer, also apparently the snake). He was taken off life support and died the next morning.

Think I felt shitty about being jealous of him before? Amp that up times 100. I have processed it and it was far too raw to talk about or post here immediately, with the help of Bob & a therapist, I don’t feel guilty or jealous, or bad. It was a real feeling to have in the moment and I’m glad that I acknowledged it. I think it will help me be a better person.

My second stroker – a 60-ish woman in the neuro unit. I walked in and her daughter, son-in-law, and their four freaking small kids were crammed in the tiny, one-bed room. I talked to her and she wasn’t ready to figure things out yet. To help her, I asked her what happened. Each and every question that I asked her, her daughter answered for her. I should have told her daughter to shut the hell up, but I didn’t. That won’t happen again. It really is so important for the stroker to tell their own story. As follow-up, I found out that either she had a TIA (transient ischemic attack) or had the tPA shot and her symptoms faded so that she no longer has any paralysis. I sincerely wish her well.

My third stroker was a woman next door to my second stroker in the neuro unit who denied ever having had a stroke. Until the doctor came into tell her she had one. She apparently kept forgetting. I didn’t follow up with her.

My fourth stroker – a 30 year old woman with a CVA (stroke) secondary to a carotid artery dissection (sound familiar?!). Left side paralysis. She had a baby and 3 weeks later had a stroke. The similarities are uncanny and still give me goosebumps. I am still in contact with her husband and she is doing really well. Weakness in her leg and full paralysis in her arm, but she is already in the rehab hospital and really rocking it. I’ve learned and have tried to give hope with reality (whereas the doctors only give gloom and doom). I also gave her my pamphlet which her husband claims is helpful (he already bought the 4 books recommended). I can’t wait to see her in a month or two to see the progress. When Bob & I visited her, he recognized the haunted, confused, overwhelmed look in her eyes. I like to think that seeing a relatively young stroker who is successfully leading her life is helpful. (if you don’t think it is, keep your mouth shut, I don’t want to hear it! 😉 )

The volunteer work has upped my confidence more that I thought possible. I have a purpose there – there are concrete things that need to be done & I do them. It feels great!

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So, I mentioned earlier that a therapist helped me out. Yep. I have a therapist. I have worked through so much of this shit on my own and have done quite well in my opinion, but I reached a plateau and needed help. Thanks to the EAP (employee assistance program) at work, I found a therapist who is helpful, insightful, and works from the assumption that I have intelligence. I have made some improvement & it is possible that I could actually be me again someday!

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That leads me to my last thing. I heard something on TV that so profoundly explained something that I didn’t realize that I was trying to articulate:

“You break your arm, you’re still you. You break your brain, and you’re not you anymore.”

Beautifully put. It doesn’t matter that I *seem* the same. Sure, I look the same. It is about the feeling of knowing you and who you are. I’m working on it though.

Peace

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