In September 2008 I suffered a severe stroke and was hospitalized for five months. The stroke happened while I was sleeping. When I awoke, I tried to get out of bed and fell flat on my face on the floor. I struggled for three hours crawling on the floor to get to the front door to summon help.
When I reached the front door, I pulled myself up, unlocked the door, and yelled for help. I was taken to the emergency room of North Bay Hospital where the ER doctor told me I might not walk again because of the severity of the stroke. I vowed that I would walk again although the right side of my body was paralyzed.
For the next five months, I attended physical therapy sessions five days a week for four hours each day. I awoke at 4:00 AM each morning to dress myself because I would not allow anyone to help me (with the exception of my physical therapist because I didn’t have the use of both hands to tie my shoes). It would take me an hour and a half to get dressed because I could not use of my right arm and leg. After dressing, I would sit in my wheel chair in the hallway and exercise my right hand using a rubber squeeze ball and watching the nurses get patients up and ready for breakfast. I started my physical therapy after breakfast and would do physical, occupational, and speech therapies. Upon my discharge from physical rehabilitation, the staff at Bay Tree Rehabilitation awarded me their "Shining Star Award" for my persistence and determination to return to independent living despite suffering a frustrating illness.
In July 2014 I attend a stroke seminar in Tampa, Florida and was interviewed by WTSP-TV, a Tampa TV station, about stroke recovery. A portion of that interview aired on WTSP-TV news later that day – my five minutes of fame.
To this day I exercise daily to improve my strength and to walk unassisted. I use a walker. I learned to use my left hand to feed myself, clean myself, dress myself and I had my car modified with a left foot accelerator so I can drive; I also have learned to write with my left hand. This article was produced on my computer using only my left hand!
Before modifying my car, I used public transportation to shop for food and keep doctor’s appointments. The best thing about using the bus was I got to sit in the front of the bus because of my disability. The worst thing was the one mile walk using a walker to the bus stop from my home; it seemed like a hundred miles in the Florida sun. But it had to be done.
I volunteered eight hours a week at North Bay Hospital at the reception desk in the hospital lobby. I greeted all visitors who enter the lobby and find a patient’s room number on the computer and answered the telephone and assigned volunteers to do various errands for the nursing staff. As a member of the hospital’s Stroke Support Group, I called all fifty members from my home once a month to remind them of the group’s monthly meeting.
In October 2016, I lost my hearing and had to give up volunteering at the reception desk. Now, I volunteer on Sundays calling Bingo for the patients of the rehabilitation ward of North Bay Hospital.
During my convalescence, I have taught myself more about the computer. I learned to complete an application that was emailed to me. I was able to access the application, which allowed me to complete it on the computer and electronically sign it and save it to a file and attach the file to an email and return it to the sender. Originally, I was told that the only way complete the application was to print it out and complete it with pen, sign it and scan it back into the computer then attach it to an email. In between my physical therapy and my struggling to live a normal life, I have completed all my Continuing Education requirements via the computer to keep my Florida Life and Health Insurance License in force.
Today, I still use a walker, but I am able to walk and live independently and I continue my physical therapy through my Medicare health insurance. During my last appointment with my medical doctor, she was so pleased with my progress that she told me I only needed to see her once a year.
Persistence and determination is supreme.