Coming Clean About My Stroke-Part5


After the entire fall incident, things began to fall into place. I had a routine to follow, which was important for me then. I had Physical Therapy (PT) and Occupational Therapy (OT) four times a week, Speech Therapy (ST) three times a week and Recreational Therapy (RT) twice a week. I did exceptionally well in PT. By my third day, I was able to stand between the parallel bars and walk half way across and back. My left foot dragged a bit, but at least I could get her to move. I kept forgetting about my left arm and she kept hanging back. My PT would tap me and remind me to ‘bring her along’.  My right arm would dutifully come around and drag my left arm forward to bring her up to speed.

My speech also improved, although it was still my most frustrating therapy. The inability to find my words, my constant stuttering, the feeling of being overwhelmed, and the inclination to cry when asked simple questions began to slowly diminish. I didn’t notice it until a few sessions in, when my ST pointed out that I had answered a question and did not cry; or I did such and such exercise without a hint of a stutter. It was a hell of a breakthrough for me; at least I knew people were understanding what I was saying to them.

Same thing in OT. We worked a lot on ‘daily living’ things: folding clothes, zipping zippers, buttoning buttons, etc. This was in addition to dressing, washing, brushing hair and teeth. They always focused on working my left hand and arm because that’s where my deficit is.

One thing I was notorious for, was clutching utensils in my left hand (or any other item–pens, pencils, mini-lotion bottles, etc) without even realizing it. Some days coming back from meals,  aides or therapists would notice and have to take it out of my hand with a bit of force. I was just unable to let go, even though I willed my hand to. The staff caught on quick though. Every night before I went to bed, my assigned aide would go through my bed. Sure enough, by the time she was done, she had a handful of spoons, forks, straws, body lotion, and rolled up paper in her hand.  🙂

It was a lot of work, but I progressed nicely. I always looked forward to RT. I was always allowed to choose what we were going to work on. Since I wanted badly to be ‘normal’ again, I would pick games that required thinking skills like Scrabble, which I used to be really good at. Of all the times we played, I may have won one game; but it was a sweet victory. It was near the end of my stay.

In my down time I used to watch TV or read magazine that visitors bought me while I was in the hospital. Christmas was only days away, so I had visitors come see me while I was in rehab too. It was nice having the people I love and care about around me. A neighborhood family volunteers every year at the rehab center to sing holiday carols and popular songs in the lobby on Christmas Eve. I advised the floor nurse that I’d wanted to go, so when they were ready to start, a volunteer came up and wheeled me down to the lobby. It was a girl, her father and her grandfather. Three generations with their own little band. They played everything from Silent Night to Bad, Bad Leroy Brown. It was amazing.

My family came on Christmas Day to see me and visiting hour rules were ‘ignored’ by the staff on my floor. I was grateful for that. As much as the staff tried to bring holiday cheer to us, it just wasn’t the same. It just made me itch to want to go home even more. Every time the doctor came by, I asked him how long it would be before he thought I’d be ready to go home and do my PT, OT and ST on an outpatient basis.  His answer was always, ‘Let’s give it a few more days’. I hated that answer.

Over the next few days, I busted my butt and worked really hard on my PT. I had graduated from using the wheelchair all the time to using the walker from my room to the lunch area or PT/OT, which were right down the hall. (I still had to sit in my wheelchair for further distances, like ST). I would be out of inpatient rehab as soon as humanly possible.

If I couldn’t do it for New Year’s, well then as soon after as I could,

That’s all I’ve got for this Part, I should have Part 6 up some time next week,

Until then, love you guys!

Coming Clean About My Stroke-Part4

So, it was time to say goodbye to the hospital and hello to rehab. I was nervous and really excited. Excited simply because I actually made it out of the hospital. It was going to be an awkward trip for me. That I knew. I was all bundled up in bed with my bags on a chair next to my bed. I was waiting for the ambulance that was going to be transporting me from the hospital to the rehabilitation center. What was I going to do? Or say? These were my people. I may not know them, but it hurt my heart knowing that they were coming to get me; doing what I should


be doing for someone else. I want to say they arrived about lunch time. I’m not exactly sure. They were professional and polite. It was a male and a female. That I remember. I couldn’t aid them in any way since my left side was useless and my speech was poor, so I sat there and smiled a crooked post stroke smile.

They put me on the stretcher and my belongings placed on top of me. Off we went. I was in the back with the female EMT and the male drove. She introduced herself to me as she was going through my file and started writing her report. As she went through my file, she noticed my occupation. “Oh wow. You’re an EMT too. What happened, if you don’t mind me asking?”  I did my best to let her know it was OK and began to explain what happened. She listened intently and never made me feel bad for struggling with my speech. She told me more than once that it was OK and she understood what I was trying to tell her. I still became so frustrated, that I couldn’t help but shed a few tears on the way.

I wish I could remember her name, but unfortunately I can’t. I saw her a few times during my stay at the rehab hospital. She made it a point, she eventually told me, to jump the job when she could to take me to my plasmapheresis appointments when she could. That made me feel good.

So we finally get to the rehab hospital. I’m taken to the brain injury unit and not the stroke unit. I guess because of the type of stroke; I don’t know. . . I’m greeted by the nurse and my case worker is there also. I’m taken to my assigned room and gently placed in a wheelchair by my new-found EMT friends. 🙂 I haven’t met my roommate yet because it is, in fact, lunchtime. While my paperwork was sorted out, I’m taken three doors down to the little dining area and served lunch. My first day was uneventful. I met my roommate later that evening. The damage from her bleed was worse than mine. She was a very nice, heavyset lady who couldn’t remember anything. She was a good twenty-five years older than me. Her brain injury was the result of a severe car accident. She was funny though. That I do remember.

The second day was not so great. It started out well enough. It had only been a few days since the Foley was removed, my muscles weren’t strong enough to keep me continent through the night. In that respect, I was like a child again and needed to be “changed”. Humiliating is an understatement when trying to explain how I felt. All I could do was apologize. All the reassurances didn’t make me feel better at all. Professionally, I know it’s natural for accidents to happen after a patient has been with a Foley for so long. God Bless them for trying to make me feel comfortable though!

I needed help from my bed to the wheelchair and could not go to the bathroom without assistance. That, I was OK with because I knew I couldn’t stand and turn by myself. Baby steps. I had my first Occupational Therapy session that morning and it consisted of learning how to wash my face, brush my teeth and hair, and attempting to get dressed (with her help, of course). That took my whole hour. Then came breakfast. Next was Physical Therapy. That wasn’t too bad either. I did most of my exercises in my wheelchair. After PT I was wheeled back to my room and helped into bed. I had lunch delivered to my room so I could watch TV. My Social Worker comes in soon after. She takes a seat next to me and has a stack of reading material in a binder that she went over with me briefly. She tells me I’ll probably be interested in reading it when I have some free time. It had information on stroke survivor support services, exercises, resources, articles and a ton of other information. I told her I would read it after I finished Speech Therapy, which I had after lunch.

So far so good, right?

So, the staff brings me my lunch and I enjoy it while watching whatever show it is on TV. When I’m done, the Speech Therapist comes to pick me up for my first Speech Therapy session. This session only lasted a half hour and it felt like an eternity. I was so flustered and confused from the start. I stuttered, stammered, and struggled to find the words I was looking for when she asked me questions. We tried to do a few simple exercises. I was able to complete some, but not all. The therapist said I did fine considering it was our first session. She gave me some ‘homework’, and we would go over it the next day. When the session was over, she wheeled me back to my room and asked if I wanted to go back to my bed. I told her no, that I wanted to read the binder that my Social Worker had given me. She said OK and left.

I took the binder off the tray table where I left it and opened it on my lap. The next thing I know, a bunch of brochures and papers fall out of the binder and onto the floor. I close the binder and figure I’ll just bend over and pick the papers up. As I lean forward and reach for the papers, my wheelchair topples over and I go with it, cracking my head on the floor as it goes. I’m so stunned, I don’t know what to do. I want to get up on my own, because I’m just a stubborn ass sometimes. I’m laying in a ball underneath my wheelchair demanding my body to move, to get the hell up, to DO SOMETHING! And she tried, she did. With everything I had in me, I tried to move the wheelchair and roll myself over, but I couldn’t do it. Defeat. I refused to call out for help. I stayed, curled up in that ball, amid all those papers with tears streaming down my face, not uttering a sound. I just kept praying that if I calmed down a little bit more and focused harder, I would be able to drag myself to the bed and up eventually. I don’t even know how long I was down before the nurse happened to pass by the room and notice me down and called whatever the code word is for a person on the ground, maybe twenty minutes or half hour. Next thing I know, there are three people in my room, lifting me up off the floor, checking to see if I’m OK and putting me back in bed.

The doctor had to come check me because I had a nice sized hematoma on my forehead. My family had to be called because that’s the facility protocol. From that moment on, for the next week or so, I was on protective ‘lock down’. My wheelchair and bed were fitted with a device that would sound an alarm when it sensed that I was trying to get up. Really?!? Talk about punishment.

That was the second most depressing day I had while at inpatient rehab. I think about how helpless I felt that day and know that I’ve come a long, long way.

That’s it for this week’s post. I hope to have Part 5 up by next week some time. As always, love you guys!

Coming Clean About My Stroke-Part3

Good evening to all my blog family! Sorry it’s taken me a bit to complete Part 3 of the Series. Last week was the week for me. I had a post due for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group on Wednesday. That had to be kept short and very sweet (and a little late) because I arrived in NJ to attend the wedding of a friend and wound up having a focal seizure while attempting to purchase a dress at the mall.  😦 Anyhoo, what matters is that I made it to the wedding and I will post a few of my ‘sexy mama’ pix in a future post.

Back to the hospital. . .

The neurosurgeon and neurologist are getting ready to clear me from NICU and transfer me to a regular floor until a bed is available at the inpatient rehabilitation hospital. Physical and speech therapists still come by regularly to work with me. At this point, I am able to stand with assistance.  The day before my move to a regular room, I take my first steps with the help of a physical therapist on each side of me (a friend actually took video). As much as I would have loved to include them in my photo, I haven’t been back to see them in some time, and have not gotten permission yet. It was a big day. All of my bears and balloons were packed and taken away that night (except for a small Eeyore I kept with me) since I would be going to a small semi-private room in the morning.

My very first steps. . .After one month in NICU. The beginning of a very long and arduous journey towards recovery.

My very first steps. . .After one month in NICU. The beginning of a very long and arduous journey towards recovery.

The following morning, I was wheeled up to my new room; which was TINY compared to my suite in NICU. I did have a roommate though. She was about 15 years older than me and was friendly towards me. She did tattle on me though…

My daughter and son-in-law came to visit me my first day on the regular floor. Me, being the stubborn, hard-headed person that I can sometimes be, decided I would go to the bathroom with help from my daughter and son-in-law. (Oh, did I forget to mention that I only had my Foley catheter removed two days earlier and was supposed to use a bedpan??) As much as they tried to dissuade me, I won. I felt that with their assistance, I would be able to drag the left side of my body across to the bathroom. I didn’t make it halfway across before I became so winded and exhausted that I couldn’t move anymore. Because of all the lines in me, my son-in-law was afraid to try carrying me back to the bed, so my roommate rang for the nurse. It happened to be a male nurse. As wonderful as he was, he proceeded to verbally pow pow me about attempting to leave the bed without proper supervision. Between him and my son-in-law, back into bed I went and out came the damn bedpan.  😦

My two favorite physical therapists came back later in the afternoon for a session. We talked about the morning fiasco; word sure did get around! I worked my butt off that afternoon and made it about 20 steps round trip that day with one stop to sit in a chair. I had another plasmapheresis treatment and some more visitors. I know I slept a bit because every time I woke up, someone new was sitting in my room. I also had another session with a Speech Therapist. I know I had some while I was in NICU (besides having to pass the swallow test), I just can’t remember them. It was extremely frustrating. By the time she left my room, I was in tears. I knew there were going to be a lot more days like that ahead of me.

My last day at the hospital was basically the same; meals, physical, speech therapies and my meds. More visitors came by. Of course, no more trying to get out of bed for me.  All my things were packed and ready to go. My case worker came by to speak to me about the rehabilitation hospital I would be transferred to the next day. I signed some paperwork, as did my daughter and that was it. By the end of the day, I was exhausted.

December 19 or 20, I think it was, would be the start of my new adventure at the inpatient Rehabilitation hospital. I’ll explain as much as I can remember about the journey from the hospital to rehab and my first days there in Part 4 of the Series. I hope to have that post up by next week.

As I got further along in recovery, I remembered more things; fascinating stuff, this brain we have. As I move along in my journey, you’ll find that I will get more in-depth with what’s going on around me, details that I remember, my feelings, my frustrations, my willpower, and sometimes lack of.

I hope you guys stick with me while I finish flushing my system of all that I’ve pent-up for so long. I already know those who definitely will and I love you so much more for it. 🙂

Until next post.

I Think I’m Ready

A few people have asked me about my stroke and for the longest time, it was something I didn’t speak of freely unless it was to people directly involved; doctors, family, and close friends; and even to them I’ve left out a lot of intimate details of what I’ve FELT during this journey to recovery. I’ve talked about it in pretty clinical terms with everyone. Now is as good a time as any to just get it all out there. A very wise Aloha man told me once that when I was ready, I would be able to share. I’m going to do my best; although this is going to take several blog posts. I’m thinking at least four. But before I get into all of that, I think it’s important for me to discuss some events that occurred a few months before my bleed.  I guess this is my warm-up post.

I worked EMS for over a decade. In August of 2011, I ruptured my right ACL at work. I was out on Comp until I was to have surgery. I mention it so everyone is aware that I was already out of work when everything transpired.

Aviary Photo_130217249972682766

When I used to work doubles and triples. I used a pic where I looked the most tired!!  🙂

THREE MONTHS PRIOR TO HEMORRHAGE (May or may not have been important. I will never know.)

On September 23, 2011, I was driving my roommate’s vehicle to the local convenience store (roughly 1145pm), when I was struck from behind by a speeding drunk driver. He was driving so fast that my roommate’s car wasn’t enough impact to keep him from striking the vehicle in front of me. We both hit it, according to witnesses. It caused a chain reaction; six cars were involved.

My airbags deployed, struck my face. Took out the driver’s side window with my head. Fractured my L2,3 and 4 in my lower back and sprained various muscles and bruised anything and everything in between. The car was a total loss. I was taken to the local hospital. X-rays were taken and I was given a CT scan of my head that came out CLEAN. I was admitted two days for observation and the simple fact that I couldn’t get up off the bed because of the pain in my back.

State Troopers came to the hospital for information from me and advised me that the driver was arrested. He was over twice the legal drinking limit. I was also told that I should consider myself lucky. When my vehicle was struck, the back seat (it was a Tracker, so it’s one long seat) unhinged and popped up, creating a barrier for the front. Had the barrier not been there, the Trooper told me he did not think I would have left the scene. When I saw the car a few days later, I understood exactly what he meant.

After my two-day stint at the hospital, I was given a back brace, some pain medications and told to follow-up with my doctor. That is exactly what I did. I was also referred for more physical therapy. Surgery for my knee was pushed back nearly a month since I wasn’t able to lay on my back and I continued going to physical therapy for both my knee and my back,  and hand (also injured).

It was business as usual for a while. I had my knee surgery performed on October 19th, 2011. Don’t quote me, but I believe that’s the date. It was same day surgery. I was given all the equipment and instructions I would need to help me get through the first week until I started physical therapy the following. It went well considering I was in pain a lot of time. All I knew that I had already been out of work for over two and a half months and I was desperate to go back. Plus, the holidays were coming! 🙂

This was just a brief summary of what went on the last few months before I got sick. I’m going to start my purging with my next post. I think I’m going to call it Coming Clean About My Stroke-Part1. And I suppose the posts after that will be Parts2 through whatever until I get it out of my system.

It’s time. Love you guys!

Don’t You Hate It When…

You’re told it’s going to be so hot and humid that you need to be prepared to sweat like a pig? Uh, not so much today. It’s cold and it’s raining where I am. So much for that; which means that my pain level is pretty high today, but I’m still chugging along.

Before my bleed, I spent over a decade working as an Emergency Medical Technician, which required a keen attention to detail and multi-tasking skills. I had to. Sometimes, people’s lives depended on the actions I took or did not take. I was all about “saving lives and making a difference”. I look back now, with sadness sometimes, knowing that I will never be able to work on an ambulance again.

But on some level, it’s OK. While I may no longer be saving lives, I still, in my own way, am trying to make a difference. I want to make a difference for myself and for other fledgling writers who are testing the waters, trying to find out where we go from here.

I recently got my doctor ordered ERMI shoulder flexionator machine, which helps the movement of my left shoulder. I use it regularly in addition to my physical therapy. It’s in what used to be the home office. It’s a hideous contraption; looks like some sort of miniature torture device. Now I just basically work out of my room with my laptop, Kindle and Android phone side by side. (Gotta keep working on the multi-tasking skills!)

I’ve finally learned to some degree how to use bitly; although I won’t punish any of you right now by sending you all to Neverland accidentally. I still arm wrestle with WordPress because I still have problems getting to know some of the concepts of making my page looking the way I’d like it to. Keep checking. It’ll get there eventually. As always, when needed, I fall back on my mentors Marilyn Parel and Ashley Barron, who have always supported me since I started on Twitter and my Blog.

Anyway, I have just a few more resources I’d like to share with you all today. I write when I can sit at the computer and research on my Kindle when I have to stand. God, I love technology. As you all know by now, occasionally my focus is a bit off, and I apologize if I repeated any of these. I don’t think I have though.


  • Create Your Own Website Using WordPress (free on Amazon)
  • Guide to Choosing a Self-Publishing Service 2013 (Kindle Edition, $4.97 on Amazon) Authors: Ben Galley, Mick Rooney, Editor: Orna Ross, Intro: Victoria Strauss.  *The Guide gives you skills and info to comparison shop for services and warns you of dangers, who and what to look out for. Info from ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors) and Writers Beware!.* I’ve already purchased and downloaded the book, but have NOT read it yet. I will be sure to pass along any valuable info I have learned.
  • The Emotion Thesaurus-A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression (Kindle Edition, 4.99 on Amazon), by Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman. From the description: “One of the biggest problem areas for writers is conveying a character’s emotions to the reader in a unique and compelling way. This book comes to the rescue by exploring seventy-five emotions and listing possible body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses for each”.  I bought this book a while ago and it has been priceless for me. I don’t know what I’d do without it. It certainly helps me when I find myself occasionally at a loss for a word or two.

###A NOTE TO ALL MY READERS: I would just like to say that the only reason I mention Amazon and their pricing is that I am a Kindle owner and obtain all my books from them. I am not at all familiar with the Nook or any other reading device but am sure these same titles are available from other sellers. This is in no way a push for Amazon.###


These blogs have also been helpful to me and I particularly enjoy reading them.

  1. Maggie Madly Writing here on WP (
  2. Melissa Janda here on WP (
  4. The Blabbermouth-Linda P. Epstein here on WP (

That’s all for today fellow bloggers. I hoped I helped a few people, or even just ONE. 🙂 I will continue to write, research, recover, and win the battle with WordPress! Anyone willing to help me out, I would appreciate it so much! If you will notice, some of my older posts had some pictures above them; now I’ve forgotten how I did it. Any feedback would be appreciated. Email me directly at THANK YOU ALL and have a great rest of the day.