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Carole's Story

(Stroke Survivor)


Vacation to Remember


I'm going to try my best to put into words one of the toughest challenges that I have faced in my 65 years on this earth but I'm not complaining.  Putting this day into individual sentences is difficult but I have to start it.  Here it goes.............


On August 8th 2008 my family and I were at a Holiday Inn in Rehobeth, Delaware.  A trip that we all took annually for several years and always enjoyed.  Being with my husband of 45 years, our three beautiful daughters (Chris, Diane and Margaret-Mary), their husbands, and best of all, our four grandchildren.


Preparations were enormous and the stress was high level.  Obviously, it must have taken it's toll.  we arrived on Thursday and awaited one more daughter and her family on Friday.


My husband and I awoke at 7:30, I felt something was different.  I just rolled over for another 15 minutes and when I finally decided to get out of bed - something was very wrong.... I went to stand and fell to the floor.  Needless to say, my husband was beside himself.  Once the shock wore off (which was momentarily) I asked that he pick up the phone and call one of our daughters, then call 911.


I feel that I'm the lucky one.  I had help within 20 minutes and taken by ambulance within the first hour.  While in route, I was given a shot, to this day I don't know what it was, but I assume it also must havce helped.


Nervous being in a different state and on my way to a hospital that I never expexted to visit, I arrived and was taken care of by wonderful people.  Everything was done quickly and professionally, although it's a little foggy to my memory now.   I do remember being calm.  I was never calm in my life but I honestly felt at peace.


Crazy as that sounds, it is the truth, as I remember not wanting to upset anyone.  My youngest daughter came with me.  For some reason I was upset to see my husband, I could see the pain and fear on his face.  My family was all at the hospital emergency room and my new way of life began.


In back of my mind I was still very apprehensive as to what was going to follow.  The emergency staff was very kind, explaining to us exactly what they were doing and why.  My mind wondered how I had gotten to this point and where I was headed.  I tried to remain upbeat.  After a while, I arrived in a room where my thinking was a little hazy.  Hard to imagine myself in a wheelchair and not able to speak correctly, while my arm seemed to have a mind all it's own with involuntary waves.  Is this the way I'll be for the rest of my life?  The doctor said it was too soon to tell, but they felt optimistic.


That evening they tried to seat my on the edge of the bed.  At first I was very worried and slowly I became so tired.  My mind shut down and I was scared to think this was my limit, and not a very successful limit at that.


As I mentioned before, my mind was very hazy and confused.  I had the best roomate and it helped a lot to share the room with a person who had a great sense of humor.  By the third day of my stay they were able to get me to stand up ut not yet on my own.  They explained that this was a slow but sure progress.  Oh well!


Within two more days they were talking about sending me home to a rehabilitation center.  They felt this was best and I had no choice if I wanted to go home.  Why not home?  Guess I have to deal with this one day at a time (if only my mind would shut down as it did the first day).  So what would rehabilitation hold in store for me and how different would it be?


On the fifth morning, after numerous discussions, a very large Russian speaking man (my doctor) discussed with my family what could come next.  I listened very anxiously.  Meanwhile my family was told it would be $2,000 for a ride by ambulance; was husband was steadfast on putting me in our SUV and driving directly to the Rehabilitation on Long Island.  Finally the big doctor broke a smile and shook my husband's hand.  Time to get dressed and head towards home.


Starting our 5 hour journey, with stops for the ladies room facilities and food, the caravan headed up 95 towards home.  My husband and youngest daughter in our SUV, while Ken, our youngest daughter's husband, my other two girls Christine and Diane with our granddaughter and youngest grandson, were behind us in their truck. 


Obviously there was no rest for the weary, as I was taken directly to Southside Hospital Rehabilitation.  Certainly different, considering I was on vacation.  As I stated earlier, the staff there was doing all kinds od paperwork.  They explained while testing that I would have to work hard with the staff, and they would advise us of different classes and showed us a big oard where my name and therapy time would appear.  Everyone left and I was alone.  My family all kissed me and said they would see me tomorrow.  The hallways got very quiet as darkness set in.  Now what?


Eventually I resigned myself to rest until the following morning.  Much to my chagrin, although I was technically still on vacation, the staff appeared very early (it felt like I enlisted in the army).  The staff (although pleasant) was synchronized on keeping me moving.  Three groups took over my life.  There was physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.  I can only rememer that they were quick, very hectic but very professional.  Out of the chair as someone tried to get my legs moving, on to the table where my brain had chores, and then speech where a tens unit was applied and math problems for me to solve.  Followed by lunch in a room with people who also were affected with stroke or some brain problem.


I can never say enough praise for the Brain Unit.  Dr. John and the staff supplied my busy day with cheerfulness.  Everyone was so nice and the patients were all with a variety with brain problems.  Some very serious, some were very restricted yet even the helpers were positive and nice.  You began to feel at ease with each passing hour.  Drugs were tried and adjusted and so was the diabetic care.  Some meds agreed with me and others made me sick.  Dr. John was in charge and very accessible as were the nurses and general workers.  They tried hard to be a home away from home.


As promised, it was about 10 days with the same hectic routines and the final testing which would prove it was time to finally go home.  They tested me on everything from the kitchen (alertness to putting the stove on and remembering to turn it off, up and down the stairs and my daughter Diane was there so they knew what I would be capable of and things to avoid - like little scatter rugs around the house).  The bathroom at home needed to be equipped with bars and a seat.  My husband is handy and took care of all my needs himself.  They took me down to the public cafeteria for a drink to see how I managed money and the most difficult challenge was the walk to prove that I could handle myself up and down the curbs, that I was aware of my surroundings.  Finally my speech therapist told me I passed and could go home, but that I should continue the therapy once there.


My act went on the road to home feeling very confident, only to face different challenges and become the new me.  After 26 weeks at STAR Rehabilitation in east Meadow, I am confident that each day is a new challenge to face.  I will keep positive, because I do remember where I started from on 8/8/08.





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