|Posted by edwin comer on April 3, 2010 at 3:28 AM|
MY STROKE OF LUCK
For some reason, I thought I was the only one in the world who had suffered a stroke. It was a huge revelation to me that nearly 795,000 Americans each year have a stroke. As with most stroke survivors, my life has changed dramatically.
Fast food and eating on the road has given way to structured meal times with the pastas and pastries being replaced with fruits, vegetables, chicken and fish. Just by changing my eating habits I have lost 25 pounds in the past 23 months. My body mass index [BMI] is down from 28.8 to 24.5. My goal is to get below 20.0; meaning my body weight will be down to about 160 pounds. (I am currently at 172 pounds.)
African-American adults are twice as likely to have a stroke as their white adult counterparts.
African–American men are 60% percent more likely to die from a stroke than adult Caucasian, Hispanic or Asian men.
African–American stroke survivors are more likely to become disabled and have difficulties with everyday activities.
Stroke is the third leading cause of death (after heart disease and cancer) among all women in the United States.
Controlling blood pressure is extremely important. High blood pressure is a major cause of strokes. This disease usually can be effectively treated. However, many women and men do not receive the screening necessary to catch this silent but potentially deadly condition - better known as the Silent Killer.
If during a person’s stroke they happen to go into a coma, the longer they are in a coma the more than likely it is that they will have brain damage that will be very difficult to recover from. Almost all people will have some brain damage, depending on location of the stroke and the severity. All stroke victims will have a secondary stroke within 5 years. Stroke victims with mild brain damage can relearn to do functions by reprogramming the brain for the same function but from a different location.
My brain damage is very minimal, but there is definitely some residual. My stroke affected the left side of my body.
My peripheral vision was affected in my left eye. If I am sitting in the passenger seat in a car and you were driving, I would have to turn my head to see you.
My left foot has “drop foot.” This means when I walk I have a tendency to drag or not lift my left foot.
My left arm is very weak and has ‘Ataxia”. This is sometimes called Crazy arm. When I start to reach somewhere with my left arm, it goes where it wants to go, like it has a mind of its’ own.
In the very beginning I was ashamed to go out in public with my walker. My xango buddy, Johanna Baker who [has MS and in a power wheel chair] told me that just to consider that my walker is my best friend and we will go every where together. Once I understood that concept I was on my way.
The good thing is that all of this is correctable through hard work and physical therapy. The recovery of my vision is all about learning how to adapt. I have not finished all of my research yet, but from talking with other people that have had brain damage from a stroke, an accident or a concussion, there are some possibilities. To me, it is all about asking enough people and finding a solution; I just have not asked enough people yet. I would strongly recommend to anyone that has a physical disability and is looking for a great resource for physical rehab to check with their local Junior College, Universities, and State programs to see what they have to offer relevant to Adaptive Physical Education programs. More than likely they will have something at almost any school equivalent to an accredited Nursing Program or Massage Therapy Program along with Sports Medicine.
It is important that the people around me allow the “new me” to emerge without holding me back to the personality I had exhibited before my stroke. I realize that this can be very difficult because of how I was changed because of my stroke, but it is important to me that my family and friends not to hold me to the personality that I was before, or to the skill level of the person that I was at one time. I am a stroke survivor and my brain is different and that needs to be OK; for them to love me for who I will become and not whom I once was. I will be better than yesterday but not as good as tomorrow.
When it came to gaining new abilities, I realized that I had to master a certain level of function before I could move on to the next level. I discovered that my rehabilitation was dependent on my willingness to “try” to help myself recover. When I was willing to put forth the effort that it took to pay attention, even when my mind did not want to, then - and only then - did I succeed. I had to make that decision hundreds of times a day to do what I needed to do to recover. I needed those around me to protect me from taking risks that were too far beyond my ability, yet at the same time to not to over-protect me. Finding this balance was very important but hard to find. We learned quickly that when I could have success we all would win. What is so neat is that I get to start all over again; I look at myself like a toddler learning to walk for the first time, learning to talk and just learning new things about life. The fantastic thing is that I can now put only good stuff in my brain and allow winners, not whiners, to come into my life. I am blessed.
A friend of mine has always taught me to figure out “What is the lesson?” The lesson is that I get a second chance in life and NOW is when it begins.
At first, when people found out that I had a stroke, they were very concerned. Then, over time, a few disappeared. After learning that I had mild brain damage, more disappeared from my life. I read a book called Leadership Gold by John C. Maxwell and Chapter 23 was titled “Those Who Start the Journey with You Seldom Finish with You”. At that time everything made sense. My two daughters, Shawnette Comer and Trudy and her husband Marco Gonzalez and my 4 grandson [ Dimitri, Omar, Gabriel and Matthew ] have always keep me laughing and have always been by my side and also some very dear friends, Marlene [ my business partner, friend and mentor ] and Nick Balingit and their family [Brian, Carmen - Ron, Melissa and her 3 grand children [ Little Nick, Mia and Nico.] It is also great that there has been, and will continue to be, an ever-growing circle of friends, especially from my home town of Delano, California. I continue to make friends in my rehab and my home based business.
I have read a few articles from a magazine called “Stroke Smart” put out by National Stroke Assocmiation and one article especially got my attention, it was titled ”Strength Therapy, focus on using the weak limbs.” This article is 100% opposite on what I have been told by the physical therapists in the medical system; so I did my research and was very impressed. They say to use the weakened limbs 90% of the time. The traditional way is to protect the weak limbs. They were going to recommend that I put my left arm in a sling. [This does not make sense to me]. What the article suggests is doing exercises 6 hours per day, 5 days a week, in a controlled environment [such as a medical center]; of which there are only 5 in the United States. The closest one is in Los Angles, California.
I consulted with my coach, Dr. Joe, and my trainer, Mary here at De Anza College in Cupertino, California. We are already doing this, but we just need to increase the hours from what I am currently doing of 2 hours, 3 times a week, to 3 hours, 3 times a week, plus what I am doing at home (which is about 4 hours per day). Our goal is to eventually do 5 days a week, 5 to 6 hours per day. I strongly encourage people to use home videos to help survivors recover. When they see themselves they can mimic what they use to do.
Because talking and public speaking is a big part of my livelihood, I try to read at least 1 to 2 hours per day. I exercise everyday and “I am in better physical shape than I was 10 years ago.” The one great thing that I have going for me is my energy level. I supplement with vitamins [ 3sixty5 ] and a product called Eleviv that give me energy and keep me clear-minded and focused and drink 2 ozs 3 times a day of the mangosteen juice which help with the pain and inflammation in my joints to exercise pain free. It helps a lot with my flexibility in my left shoulder. I also use the Glimpse skin care to look handsome by a company called Xango. I am now able to sleep 7 to 8 hours per might as before I would only sleep 4 to 5 hours.
The ways in which people learn about diseases and how to manage their health through personal knowledge and the expertise of their doctors are changing. About 65% of Americans are regularly searching online for health information. Patients and caregivers are expanding their online research and heading to health portals such as Web MD and social networks such as Facebook to find people that are like them and are also willing to share their experiences.
Browsing the internet presents a challenge for some survivors who either do not have access to computers, or who are unable to use a computer because of a disability. I would encourage you to go to your local library and volunteer to show someone how to use a computer and how to access the most current world wide information source, the internet; it is clearly the most important resource available.
This is what I ask of you to help me to accomplish my dreams and goals.
Here is my email address firstname.lastname@example.org. (There is an underscore between my first and last name.)
Please email me when you can and remind me to “Get my exercises done everyday,” and to push me gently.
I can be on the right track, but if I just sit there I will get run over.
I have to say thank you to 2 of my friends Janet Shaffer and Belinda-Estrada-Young and my xango buddy Shawn Woldt who helpped me to edit this article.
My biggest asset is my Disability.
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