Thursday, 20 February 2014

Stroke Victim? Survivor, Triumphant or STROKE WARRIOR!!!

Gary center - Receiving recognition as a Provincial Library volunteer
Maybe I was a stroke victim and maybe I never was. There was a period of about six weeks post stroke when I couldn't walk. In fact, for part of that time I was bed-fast and in a coma. I never lost the will to recover and with the much appreciated help and support of friends, family and health care professionals I was able to stand and then walk short distances before I left rehab.Determined to walk I established a personal routine of walking while at the same time learning to work within the confines of severe fatigue, balance issues and Left side deficit. Now, almost 12 years post stroke I still struggle with fatigue, noticeable balance issues and Left side deficit but I maintain a regular routine of walking as part of my recovery. I have never considered myself a victim but rather a survivor or as some have termed it stroke triumphant: A STROKE WARRIOR. Three keys to recovery are to maintain a positive attitude, set attainable goals and work at it every day. Also, a forth very important key is  - NEVER, EVER GIVE UP!!!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

A Question Of Trust

The Question: As a stroke survivor, caregiver, family member or health care professional are you concerned about where to find trustworthy health and safety information?

Submitted resource:

When given the challenge of recovering from a stroke, it’s important not to become overwhelmed with the flurry of information, tips, and guides that follow. Survivors and caregivers must sort through these readings and find the most trustworthy sources, without a clear solution on where to go first. The American Recall Center aims to make that easier.

With a focus on making medical news easy to understand, The American Recall Center offers news and safety updates on important health topics. From dangerous prescription medications to steps to avoid a potential hip replacement, our site always has the patient’s best interest in mind.

By breaking down the FDA’s jargon-filled news and updates into straightforward terms and put them in plain-language, patients can go into a doctor’s visit with knowledge and confidence to know exactly what questions matter to ask.

Another helpful offering on the site is Patient Safety Alerts, a notification system that sends personalized updates on the medications that matter to you. Simply select the drug or medical device categories relevant to you, and when the FDA releases a safety update pertaining to that category we send an update to your email. Never worry about missing news that can affect your health and save time by signing up for Patient Safety Alerts.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

5 Tips For Stroke Prevention

Today we feature a guest post by Philip J. Reed titled "5 Tips for Stroke Prevention". We extend Philip a very warm welcome and we hope you find his post motivating, informative and actionable. - Gary

--Philip J Reed, on behalf of The George Washington University Hospital Cardiovascular Center

When a stroke occurs, brain cells can begin dying within seconds. Even prompt symptom recognition and quick access to stroke services may not be enough to prevent long-term damage.The best way to maintain full function is to reduce your risk factors, and we will discuss five ways to do that below.

1. Know your numbers. Your blood pressure and cholesterol can both be major risk factors. High blood pressure, which often has few or no symptoms, is one of the leading causes of stroke. It creates stress in blood vessel walls, and left untreated, can lead to blood vessel deterioration, blood clots, brain hemorrhage and stroke. High cholesterol can be just as damaging as it builds up on the walls of the arteries, blocking and damaging them. Positive lifestyle changes, such as exercise and weight loss, may be able to help you gain control over your blood pressure and cholesterol. Your doctor can help you explore other avenues for reducing your numbers if lifestyle changes are ineffective or do not reduce your numbers enough.

2. Make healthy choices. Excessive alcohol consumption and tobacco use both pose stroke risks and can increase your blood pressure. Smoking, which doubles your stroke risk, forces your heart to work harder to pump blood throughout your body and can promote plaque build-up in your arteries. Quitting smoking and drinking alcohol in moderation may be able to help reduce your stroke risk.

3. Maintain a healthy body weight. Overweight and obesity create extra work for your circulatory system and are linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes. Losing weight can be difficult, but making healthier food choices that include lean protein, fresh vegetables and fruits, and whole grains can make you feel better physically and mentally and help you lose weight. If you are unsure about how or where you should start, talk to your health care professional or a nutritionist to learn more.

4. Control your diabetes. If you have diabetes, your stroke risk may be four times higher than it is for those who do not have diabetes. Many people with diabetes also tend to have co-morbid health conditions, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, further increasing their risk. If you have diabetes, managing your blood glucose levels, staying active, eating a healthy diet and seeing your health care professional regularly can all help reduce your risk of stroke. Here are some additional great tips for managing diabetes.

5. Stay active. A sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, weight gain and other health conditions associated with stroke. Health care professionals recommend exercising at least 30 minutes a day five days a week. Even beginners can enjoy a brisk walk or low impact water aerobics class. Talk to your doctor to ensure you are taking any necessary precautions before starting an exercise regimen.

The National Stroke Association estimates that as many as four out of five strokes can be prevented. Controlling risk factors where you can may help reduce your odds of needing stroke services and help you live a healthier life overall.

Philip J Reed is a health and fitness enthusiast who understands the value of knowledge and prevention.  If you have any questions or would like additional information, please leave a comment here, or contact us through the link in the byline.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Stroke Friends Don't Let Stroke Friends Recover Alone

Please share our image with your stroke friends. Stroke Survivors, Family Members, Care Givers and Health Care Professionals. Working together, we are all stronger!

Monday, 20 February 2012

The Many Places - I Have Been

I have been in many places, but I've never been in Cahoots. Apparently, you can't go alone. You have to be in Cahoots with someone.

I've also never been in Cognito. I hear no one recognizes you there.

I have however, been in Sane. They don't have an airport; you have to be driven there. I have made several trips there, thanks to my friends, family and work.

I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump, and I'm not too much on physical activity anymore.

I have also been in Doubt. That is a sad place to go, so I try not to visit there too often.

I've been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm.

Sometimes I'm in Capable, and I go there more often as I'm getting older.

One of my favourite places to be is in Suspense! It really gets the adrenalin flowing and pumps up the old heart! At my age I need all the stimuli I can get!

I may have been in Continent, but I don't remember what country I was in. It's an age thing.

Something to think about.....
"One day, your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure its worth watching."

 This little ditty was sent to us by Nancy Barlow a Canadian stroke survivor. As a fellow stroke survivor we appreciated the humor and wanted to share it with all our readers. ENJOY : )

thanks Nancy!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Trial And Error

Trial and error

Welcome back to all My Life After Stroke readers

Well it is Labour Day here in Canada. The weekend that officially ends Summer. I would like to give you all an update on how my walking is going. Well we could look at it in either of two ways. 1. Outright Failure or 2. Learning another way that didn't work.

After all stroke recovery CAN be a great deal of trial and error.

I prefer to look at it as number 2. and then ask what can I learn from this?. What happened was this. The Dictus-Band worked but it worked too well. My brain got confused. It was trying to figure out when it had to lift the toe and when it didn't. The elastic band proved to be a bit too hard on my shoes and I started driving again. What does driving have to do with all of this? Well when I am driving I am not walking so my routine changes big time.

The bottom line is that my gait changed so much that it became difficult to walk at all. That's when I stopped.

I stopped using the Dictus-Band. I stopped doing the exercises. I stopped going out for my  daily walks and I stopped using the exercise bike.

If none of those things worked then what do I do now?

As of today I am going to try going for a walk again without the Dictus-Band and just with Charlie, my cane.

Maybe I tried to do too much too quickly because there was definitely a change taking place. Too much of a change for my body to handle. So I hope now after some time of not doing anything I can start over again and just take it one step at a time.

Thanks for reading

Stroke Survivor since 2002.

p.s. As a side note my hand is doing better. Today I was able to open my pill bottles and take my pills with my left (affected) hand. I knew that it had been improving but hey, you never know till you try

I had to try it after watching this video that was posted recently on Peter G  Levine's "The Stroke Recovery Blog".

Saturday, 30 July 2011

An Update Dictus Band, Facebook Fan Page And More

Calf Stretch

Hello again everyone,

It is the end of July and the past month and a half have flown by. "What are you doing?" people ask. I stand and kinda just think  "O.K., what have I been doing?"  Well: 1, Working on getting an improvement in my walking. 2. Working on the two new Facebook pages "My Life After Stroke" and "The Stories Of Stroke" and 3. Spending more time working in the office. So now for a little more detail on these three items.

Working on improving my walking: On a previous post I talked about being introduced to a new device to help overcome "drop-foot". It is called a "Dictus Band". It took a couple of weeks but I did gather up the money to buy one. $70.00 Canadian. I had the opportunity to visit the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to buy it. Then my Physio took a week of vacation. I called her on the first day that she was back and we arranged to meet that afternoon. She watched me walk without the device and then helped me with getting me fitted. We applied it to two pair of shoes, one with Velcro straps and one with lace eyelets. She also fitted the Velcro strap pair with a separate piece of Velcro on the tongue  to hold the clear tongue piece of the device more firmly in place.

I try to walk most days using the device. I noticed that  with the device my brain has relaxed about thinking through each step to "raise the toe". Now, it had the capacity to begin thinking through the entire step. "flex the knee", "heel first", "roll through" and "push off with the toe". Cool, now my brain is talking me through developing a more normal gait. I can feel the improvement.

To teach the brain to flex the knee rather than rotate at the hip when I walk I have begun working with a stationary bike. By keeping my Left foot on the peddle it forces the knee to flex which I hope will enlighten the brain over time to flex the knee when I walk.

A second visit 

About two weeks after the first visit  my Physio called and asked if she could visit me again. This time she would like to bring along a summer student. We met that afternoon and again they watched me walk, outside this time. They decided to measure my range of motion on my Left calf. While keeping my heel on the floor they measured how far from the wall I could have my foot and still touch the wall with my knee. Max, toe to wall 12 cm. While this was determined to be "good", they felt that with exercise I could manage perhaps another cm. They also thought that it would be good for me to work on exercising the flexing of the toes on my Left foot. As I have been rotating at the hip rather that flexing at the knee the toes have not been getting properly worked and need to be stretched.

Calf extension and toe flexing exercises along with time on the stationary bike is what I am now doing in order    to improve my gait when I walk. Wearing my Dicta Band device to allow my brain to talk me through the step process as I have already mentioned earlier. These are the elements of development in regaining a better gait when I walk.

There are many devices on the market for this purpose but they can be very expensive. If we don't have insurance coverage that will pay the cost  then it is difficult to make use of them in our recovery. This is a low cost device combined with an exercise routine that I hope will improve the way I walk.

This combination may very well NOT be the answer in your particular case, but, if you would like to know more just leave a comment below or e mail me directly. Thanks!

Well I need to take a break after thinking and writing through number 1. So, I am going to do just that and maybe a little later I will do numbers 2. and 3.

An Update August 01,

This morning  my student physio came by with the exercises that she wants me to do. (A printout from PhysioTools )

3 exercises:

1. Stand in a walking position with the leg to be stretched behind you. Place your hands on a wall for support.

Bend the leg to be stretched and let the weight of your body stretch your calf without lifting your heel off the floor. Hold approx 30 secs. - relax. (repeat 3 times)

2. Stand in a walking position with the leg to be stretched straight behind you and the other leg bent in front of you. Take support from a wall or chair.

Lean your body forwards and down until you feel the stretching in the calf of the straight leg. Hold approx. 30 secs. - relax. Stretch the other leg. (repeat three times)

3. Stand by kitchen counter.

Lift your heel up and straighten your ankle. Hold 20-30 secs. - relax. (repeat 3 times)

Note: Remember to keep heel on the floor and foot straight!

I will start with doing these exercises once per day and if I get along well then try for twice per day. (well that's the plan) Combining these with my time on the stationary bike and daily walking should strengthen my leg mussels for walking as well as retrain my brain . (time will tell)

Thanks for reading.

Stroke Survivor since 2002