Chris DeWald: Stroke deficits – the gifts that keep on giving and giving and giving

Hello, again. I am going to introduce you to another stroke survivor. I feel another voice would be beneficial to survivors and also caregivers.

Donna was the first stroke survivor I had met online that was a base of information for survivors and caregivers on strokes. Not from doctors, but from someone who shared your same path. This allowed me to feel that I was not alone. She gave me inspiration to keep going and played a major part in my decision to write. Without further ado, allow me to introduce Donna.

Hello, Readers; my name is Donna, and I’ve been a stroke survivor since 1-1-05. My stroke deficits include spastic hemiplegia. This means that one side of my body was affected by the stroke. In my case it was my entire left side.

After six years, one would think that over time, my body would have stabilized and I would be more apt to getting up from a sitting position independently. Not so fine, friends and readers. My experience has been that my deficits decide to act up and cause me embarrassment and a source of laughter and entertainment to myself and those around me. The saying regarding “Murphy’s Law” happened in real life to me as recently as this past Saturday (4-1-11) when a attended a 1-year-old’s birthday party.

I thought my only challenge would be gaining access into the home as there are open steps and no railings. That challenge I succeeded at with help from my daughter and friends. Once in the home, I parked myself on the sofa where I would be out of everyone’s way. No, I did not sit on the right side of the sofa against the armrest. I had to pick the left side, which of course meant that I did not have usage of my left arm/hand to stand up.

After a period of time, I decided that it would be better for me to sit in the dining room on a solid chair rather than the soft and low to the floor sofa. When an arm was extended to me to help me get up, of course I said, “I can do it. No thanks.” I haven’t revealed to you that I am a stubborn, bullheaded Irish/German/English gal, so of course I didn’t want help. I pushed off with my right arm and got elevated about six inches, and my bad leg gave out and I plopped back on the sofa. After three more attempts on my own, my daughter heard laughter and came to see what was going on. She, on the count of three, pulled me up. Once again my bad leg gave out and down I went onto the nice soft sofa. By this time I was really attracting attention as others came into the room.

It was then decided, if someone was on my left side and someone on my right side, they’d pull me up at the count of three. I was helped up into a standing position; however, my left side decided it liked the sofa – again and down I went pulling the person on my left side down with me. By this time I and everyone else were laughing so hard we had tears. Thankfully the camcorder was not running, nor were any pictures snapped.

Eventually I was assisted, and walked unaided to the chair waiting for me in the dining room.

Geez…..maybe I need standing up lessons from the 1-year-old little boy, haha.

Column by Chris DeWald


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