I was watching Fox News the other day and there is one host, Jessie Watters that has a program “Watters World” in which he says his name a gestures with his hand extended...”I’m Watters and this is my world”. Well when we had our stroke we are forced to acknowledge “our world” and how it has changed.
The best analogy that comes to mind is when we had children and we had to childproof our house. Most of us did this prior to the babies arrival and things were never quite the same ever again. As for the stroke, many of you had “pre-return home visits” from either a community nursing organization or the hospital. I have found that as well meaning as they might be, unless the person who does the visit is a stroke survivor themselves, they will miss a lot! Each room in your home is a potential mine field with hidden traps and challenges that will attack you when you least expect it.
Challenges with your environment are also ever changing. What was a challenge the day you arrived home should no longer be as big an issue months later if indeed you are responding to rehab. And with that, there is a fine line between personal expectations and reality. In other words you can’t walk if you spend all your time sitting in a wheelchair. You have to choose to do! I had to practice standing for a long time to get good at it again. At first it was at the bed side with a chair and then in selected chairs in the house.
I found that our rocker/recliner looked and felt comfortable but it was a “butt trap”... which meant once in it, it was impossible for me to get out unassisted. My clothing choices also changed to baggy loose fitting and somewhat unattractive clothes. The rehab tech suggested using an AFO for my foot drop issue and said I’d need shoe’s big enough to accommodate the brace. (1/2 to one size bigger as well as a regular one for the unaffected foot) That’s when I (no pun intended) put my foot down and said no! I chose instead to wear tennis shoes and only walk in them initially so that my ankle was free for exercise and strengthening of the muscles.
As a stroke survivor who has survived and thrived for over 17 years I’ve been challenged personally and then chose to share my experiences and knowledge with others. As a former nurse I was challenged by my hospital experience and went back years later and suggested things that were practical and helpful for both for the survivors and their family.
I’ll give you one quick tip... Duck (brand) shelf liner (12” by 14ft roll) cut into 12” or 18” lengths works great for two things... lay a piece of bread on the 12” square and it will allow you to spread butter, jam, or peanut butter and the bread slice will stay in place. The 18” piece works great as a placemat and will hold your plate or bowl in place! It’s cheap and dishwasher safe.
I have hundreds of these tips and I’m incorporating them in the app we’ll release soon called DO. You see it’s important that we see our environment for what it is and also what and who is in it! Whenever I traveled from my home to a store, restaurant, doctors office, or any other place I became acutely aware of the bathrooms and where they were, chairs, benches and seating availability, doors, steps, thresholds, ramps, rails, distances, parking... and so much more. Before my stroke I was aware but not engaged in it... kind of like the chicken and pig and breakfast... the chicken is involved and the pig is fully engaged... so we as stroke survivors see things differently and most times, friends, relatives or spouses are not engaged in their environment on only aware as it affects them.
It is for that reason that we as stroke survivors need to be good at sharing our needs and what we see or notice that may or may not be available.
Each time I travel I make myself and others aware and engaged in their environment. When done in a positive way it is educational, pleasant, and enlightening. If done negatively it’s called “bitching” or complaining. We’re better than that and have an opportunity to teach others!
Well that’s all the time we have for today ... I’m excited that we can take in and control our environment. I’m also thrilled that you joined me today and look forward to sharing with you again tomorrow ... thanks so much for joining me, ...please feel free to leave me a message at stroke.global or on Facebook @stroke.global, I enjoy seeing them all.
It’s been a pleasure sharing today and I hope you’ve enjoyed this podcast... we keep it brief so it’s easy to add to your day... we want to thank our sponsor TCM Restoration for helping us provide this venue. Feel free to share this podcast with others, offer your feedback and questions and follow us online on our website stroke.global or on our Facebook page. See you back here tomorrow!