Friday, June 22, 2007

The 5th Anniversary of My Going Splat

June is a month of big anniversaries here at Kiko's House: The anniversary of the Dear Friend & Conscience and I getting together.  The anniversary of the death of my closest friend.  And the anniversary of my suffering a stroke.
* * * * *
Five years ago today I awoke about 5 in the morning, got out of bed to have a piddle and fell flat on my face.  Not the best way to start a beautiful summer day, but I figured that I had a bad leg cramp, which I often did back then, so I picked myself up, turned back in and fell asleep for another couple of hours.   
When I awoke again I became aware of what I had only vaguely realized earlier: I was unable to move my left arm and hand and leg and feet.  My left side was paralyzed.  I woke the DF&C and explained my predicament. 
"Oh, you've probably had a stroke," she said matter of factly.  The DF&C would know about such things because she has been a critical care nurse par excellance for many years.
* * * * * 
I had indeed had a stroke, a cardio vascular accident (CVA) to be exact.   
I was not predisposed to stroke.  But just like the lady tells the cop in the Gary Larson "Far Side" cartoon above, which ironically was the offering on my desk calendar pad the very next day: 
And then wham! This thing just came right out of left field. 
The DF&C knew from experience that it was past time to rush me to the understaffed local emergency room.  So she weighed my options and decided on driving me to a regional hospital where I was much more likely to get comprehensive care.
* * * * * 
In no time at all, I was being wheeled into the regional hospital's ER where the DF&C talked the talk with an admitting physician.  I was whisked through the ER and bedded down in the hospital's Stroke Unit, where I underwent an extensive battery of tests.  I began intensive physical and occupational therapy the next morning.  It seems that the quicker you can begin PT and OT after a stroke the better change you have of making a fuller recovery. 
I was discharged in only five days and could go back to Kiko's House rather than to an interim residential care facility. 
I was able to return home so quickly because I had worked hard to begin my recovery and the staff knew that I had a formidable helpmate in the DF&C.  In addition to my PT-OT regimen, she made me swim daily -- or a rather ugly approximation of swimming -- and I was quickly back on my feet.  I discarded my walker in a few days and my cane a few days later.   
I was driving again in a couple of weeks and by the three-month mark had probably made close to a 90 percent recovery.   
How did I do it? 
I had excellent health insurance, got excellent care, had the support of my family and, of course, the DF&C.   
As good as my recovery has been, no one will confuse me for Ian Thorpe when I get into a swimming pool.  I also didn't think that I'd ever ride my mountain bike again.
I took my first tentative bike ride three years ago today and have been a pedaling fool ever since.

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