Thursday, August 9, 2012

My time in Rehab

On January 6th, 2012 I was admitted into the hospital after suffering a stroke in my right frontal lobe. I was transferred to another hospital that specialized in rehabilitation.  I stayed there for 10 days.

I had my very first ambulance ride to the rehab hospital, which was very unnecessary and quite costly for just giving me a ride and checking my vitals.  They could've let me go with family and given me a blood pressure cuff to check myself! :)

Rehabilitation was 3 hours everyday and they would fit in as much exercise as they could.  The first day started off poorly as I was given pain meds on an empty stomach and almost hurled everywhere when they asked me to move around.  I started in a wheelchair but had to use my legs to pull me around as my left hand was clenched in a tight fist.  During my time there, my progression with my leg went very quickly. I got a 3 pronged walker and only used that for a couple of days.  I did have to learn to step correctly again and use my hip properly. Eyes straight ahead, move leg forward, heel toe heel toe.  There were times that I woke up doing heel toe in my sleep. :) I was walking up several flights of stairs as soon as they had me walking on my own although it was with a limp.  That is their main focus, to get you walking again and being able to function in day to day activities one handed.

I was evaluated by a speech therapist and my cognitive skills were tested.  I was given some facial exercises to do while I had some free time.

My boyfriend (now husband) was my constant cheerleader and he stayed with me every single night and almost everyday, so of course I said yes when he asked me to marry him in the hospital. 

My first personal goal was to progress enough to get a pass to get out to the meditation garden.  I could have my cats come visit me if I could get a pass.  I had one of them come visit me after the first week.  The boy was an ass and yowled as soon as he got in the carrier so just my girl got to come.

While I was there they did some work with my left arm as well.  The most helpful thing they did was Electrical Stimulation or ESTIM on my left arm and hand.  It was rather amusing watching my hand jump around and open without any effort from me.  I gave my left arm a name while I was there, I called her my Franken Arm or Frankie for short!  I was also given arm/hand exercises to try when I was in bed as well.  On a few days, they put me on an arm bike but they had to tie my left hand to the handle so I could "pedal" it since I couldn't open my left hand without prying it open.

The physical therapists all wanted to work with me since I was the most mobile stroke patient there. I was told by several people and my neurologist that I was what most stoke patients hope to be.  They all liked to see what they could make me do and I never seemed to disappoint them.

It eventually got to the point that one of them told my doctor I no longer needed to be there and I was discharged 3 days later, after they put me through my final test which was to cook a meal.  I made meatloaf and mashed potatoes and totally impressed my occupational therapist.  I was disappointed that I was discharged since my hand still didn't work, but that wasn't their concern.  

I was sent home as I was and the rest was up to me. This is quite literal as well since I didn't have any insurance and couldn't afford the discounted physical therapy that would cost me $150 per visit after a $400 evaluation.  

By sheer force of will I made my hand work again.  I sat there staring at my hand telling it to work and eventually it did.  I could do the exercises I was given in the hospital and worked at them everyday.  It is still quite slow and weak but I can open/close it, hold things, pick things up, type a little bit.  I am still working on it everyday.  My limp is gone except if I get really tired then it comes back a little bit.  My walking speed has improved tremendously as well.

7 months into my recovery, I am back to work part time, doing pet sitting/dog walking.

For now that is all.  I wanted this to come out as more of a story with better flow, but you get it as is. :)


  1. I'm so happy for you! You're a survivor. I'm proud of you.

  2. Thanks for sharing these personal triumphs! I admire your attitude and determination! Keep at it!

  3. Sounds like you are doing great! You are what heros are made of :)

  4. This is so good! It's so wonderful you share this!

  5. Keep it up, M.J.! :)

    I thought it was interesting that the rehab center would let you bring your cats (or cat) to the garden. That's great. I believe our furry family members are crucial for recovery when we're getting back our health.

    Hope you are doing well! Happy Friday!

  6. I think that it is wonderful that you shared your story, no matter how painful it was mentally. Your determination to get better is an inspiration and I think I just learned a lot from you, like if I really want to do something I have to do the work and commit to a goal. You are amazing and I am happy to know that you made so much progress. Congratulations with getting yourself back. My aunt didn't have your determination, which is probably why she can still not use her hand a year later. You rock!

  7. Sounds to me as if you are bloody-minded enough to recover completely! Shades of my return to mobilityl after a hip replacement in a Tenerife hospital after ony 12 months learning the language. Rehab with a leg I couldn't lift at all. But I got there in the end! As did you - well done!