Friday, January 29, 2010

Strike Out Strokes

As strokes go, Mom’s was serious. The neurologist said they are like real estate: it’s all about location, location, location. And hers wasn’t in the best place – right side, about two inches above and one inch behind her ear. Apparently, that’s a part of the brain, which now has died, that previously controlled numerous motor skills.
At first, she couldn’t move her left side much at all, her speech was badly muffled and she almost couldn’t see anything on her left side until it was directly in front of her eye.
Of course, just surviving is a big step, since many people don’t. A classmate of mine didn’t survive a stroke, just a couple years ago. She died at the age of 43, as thin as a rail, as she always had been.
Another skill commonly impacted is the ability to swallow. The throat muscles don’t work properly and what is swallowed can go into the lungs, which is a pneumonia risk. Mom had a feeding tube and nothing to drink for days. It was very demoralizing and she was depressed. It’s not easy on those who love the victim, either.
She did exercises and had electrical stimulation and this condition slowly improved. First she could have applesauce, then soft foods, then thickened liquids. But, when that tube came out is when she regained her spirit; that psychological improvement was the start of her physical improvement.
As rehab goes, Mom’s has been remarkable. She gets up on her own, gets dressed, showers, gets her breakfast, and, judging from some of her recent comments, pokes around my house! She hasn’t driven, and we don’t know if she will regain enough peripheral vision to do so. My sister is still doing all the cooking, although she can certainly get herself a previously-prepared meal.
So, Mom’s in pretty good shape. This is uncommon in diabetic stroke victims, yet she is. She still has to work on speech, regaining strength in her left hand and occupational therapy. But, overall, she has recovered remarkably well. Both luck and hard work have contributed to it.

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