Respite Care

May 27, 2010

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It’s very important for the primary caregiver or family member to take some time off. I am off to enjoy the Memorial Weekend in Minneapolis. Planning this excursion involved some thought. Not just my personal itinerary but for the home health aide.  I found its very important to keep a running list of daily instructions and activities not just for myself but for anyone filling in.  No detail is too small.  I will leave the list from here to expand at another time.  Honestly its a work in progress.  You realize this when you try to explain what a typical day is like caring for a stroke survivor to someone.  Like trying to condense a daily routine into a one hour crash course.

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Family Guy has stroke

May 24, 2010

Family Guy episode McStroke:

This episode was about strokes after Peter Griffin ate 30 hamburgers and had a stroke. The humor is pretty brutal but based in truth. If this is the first exposure people have then it’s a start.   Awareness is the key.  Prevention is one of the answers.

Walking to the pool

May 19, 2010

Indoor pools on a hot day in particular always feel steamier.  The automatic door holds just long enough to require a second press of the large handicap door opener.  I don’t know if there is a standard amount of time handicap doors stay open but it can reveal the sunken pace of  a person who has essentially relearned how to walk again. 

Walking to the car, from the car, in the building , through the door, into the room, to the chair…Walking.  What a deliberate series of actions and movements it takes to walk.  When done in a much slower motion, watching the sequence of movements gives me time to think about it. When my mother had her stroke, her walking again seemed so far off… the seriousness of her condition had everyone worried about survival.  The walking would come much later.

Mark McEwen

May 15, 2010

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This is Mark McEwen sitting with my mother Lety just before his presentation at the Stroke Symposium at Dr. Phillips Hospital in Orlando.

Stroke Symposium

May 15, 2010

Let me tell you about the health event sponsored by the Dr. Phillips Hospital in Orlando with guest speaker Mark McEwen.  Mr. McEwen is a stroke survivor and both Lety and I were very interested in meeting and listening to him speak.  I had begun reading his book Change in the Weather to gain insight from his experience.  The book is very enlightening and I recommend it.  One key point Mark made that I could relate to most was how the family also was in rehabilitation with Mark in dealing with his stroke.  Anyways, the event was one county away and so we rose early just before 6 am to be ready and factor in the drive time.  I have learned its best to prepare in advance as much as possible.  Since I am not a morning person, I loaded the wheelchair in the trunk and helped her select her dress which she wanted to wear that day the evening prior.  We arrived just after 9 am and Mark was not due to speak until 9:30.   The parking garage was conveniently located and offered ample signage and direction.  Lety likes to walk as much as possible with either her quad cane or hemi walker but when distances are too great or time is short she will rely on the her wheelchair which we used this morning.  It also provided mobile seating for her.  The polite security guard assured us we were in the right spot and the event was just a little behind schedule which suited me fine.  I imagined since some in attendance were fellow stroke survivors they would need time to travel as we did.  The lobby was cool and arranged with several chairs and a platform stage for the speakers.  Mark McEwen would be first followed by a board certified neurological surgeon and the medical director from the rehabilitation center my mother also attended during her recovery.  There were 5 or 6 booths setup offering free blood pressure screenings, stroke information and a goodie bag for all attendees.  Lety and I had a few minutes to explore a room where Mark was seated and would receive guests and fans before and after including a book signing.  I remember Mark McEwen from his time in television and was familiar with who he was.  He had a presence about him that I’m sure people closest to him can relate better than I.  He was both engaging and friendly while chatting with my mother and me.  We were fortunate to have him for a couple of minutes before he spoke.  So after signing our book we went out to take our seats.  Mark took the stage and gave an inspiring presentation.  His monologue was peppered with stories he outlined in his book.  A touch of humor rounded his nearly hour long speech followed by a Q&A.  It was good to hear him in person.  As he was wrapping up the talk, several members of the audience were gathering and huddling in the room to meet Mark up close and personal.  There were books on hand for purchase and autographs.  By this time we were just passed 11 a.m. and Lety and I took stock of the time.  We decided to head on home with the long drive.  Unfortunately we did not stay long enough for the other speakers.

This day was a planned trip to the Central Florida Stroke Club that meets regularly on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month.   My mother Lety would attend and travel with her caregiver to these functions which are held within a Methodist church building.   The lower level or basement housed a conveniently large size room equipped with a kitchen facility that allows for preparation of light appetizers, snacks and beverages.  It includes an upright piano for group singing  which they did not do today as the monthly board meeting was in session.  As members gathered around circular tables arranged  in the center of the room a speaker prepared here presentation and demonstration of her company’s occupational rehabilitation device which Lety attempted.  image

 This was my first attendance to such a gathering.   Most members were stroke survivors and others included their spouses.  The kindness and supportive nature of these people is most striking as they relate the degree and progress of their own rehabilitation.  It seems while some were further along than others the progression of recovery and hope keeps everyone coming back and moving forward.

 

Happy Mother’s Day

May 9, 2010

Happy Mother’s Day Mom.  I am so grateful to have spent the entire day with you.  This Image is taken from the cover of our catholic church newsletter that morning.  It was actually afternoon when mass ended and it was a beautiful service.  The weather was comfortable with mild humidity and sunny skies.  Lety’s own mother passed away when she was just 10 years old.  She has shared with me how devastating this was to a child and how she heard adults at the time communicate that over time wounds will heal.  She desperately wished her life would fast forward 15 to 20 years in the future so the pain would go away.  Of course after all these years she still loves and misses her own mother.  But during this morning while Lety was preparing to go to church she described the first Mother’s day in her life without her Mom.  Lety was born in Mexico and she explained there was a tradition in her country that on Mother’s Day which is celebrated every year on May 10 that children would wear red carnations in celebration but for those children without their mothers they would wear white carnations.  The pain the family felt was deep.  Along with Lety’s three younger brothers her father took them not to church that day.  They did not visit the cemetary either.  The drove off to the country side in a wooded area for the 4 young children to run and play.  Lety described that happy day with fun and joy.  Especially after so many days filled with so much tears.  My grandfather felt this was the best way to spend Mother’s Day that year.