Saturday, August 27, 2016

How to help a stroke victim during recovery

On August 21 I suffered a mild stroke.  I had had TIA (trans ischemic attacks) back in March, but this time it didn't resolve and 911 was called.

Having now gone through and continuing recovery, here are some tips to help a stroke victim during recovery (this took me 8 hours to type):

Things to know from stroke recovery on the inside

  1. We understand you, but our left and right brain aren’t in sync.  We haven’t become stupid, but please speak more slowly.
  2. Our eyes see you, but although both are looking at you, they are sending information at different times.  We may only actually be looking at you with­­ one eye.
  3. The affected arm has drift. I can only describe drift as the unnatural sway away from the body.  It is wobbly, unstable and uncoordinated even when nearly recovered.  We will have to sign our name and it will be total scrawl to chicken scratch, especially if the affected side was the dominant side, 
  4. Reading is difficult.  It is hard to focus when the right and left sides of the brain are trying to get in sync.
  5. Visually following the cursor may be difficult or impossible on the computer.
  6. Typing is very frustrating.  Don’t expect text responses.  It is better to call.  In fact it is somewhat inconsiderate to attempt a text conversation. 
  7. Our energy is very low.  Being in the hospital has taken a lot out of us, but we want to be back to normal as soon as possible.
  8. Depending on the severity of the stroke, support may be required.  Mine was mild but some support was required including meal preparation, errands, shopping, doctor appointments, and prescription pickups. Prepared meals are appreciated (but not too complicated).  Finger food is lovely.
  9. If we think we can do something without help, let us.
  10. Open containers for us.  We are often too uncoordinated resulting in lots of spills, breakage and swearing.
  11. Medicines are hard to swallow when they have no coating because half of the mouth is numb and not swallowing well.  Give us plenty of liquid to get it down, and preferably not water but something slicker (juice).
  12. Bathing:  a soft soap is easier to control than a bar soap.

I hope this helps

Saturday, August 13, 2016


It has been nearly 2 years since my failed attempt to go to England.  I may never fully know all the reasons why God didn't allow me to enter the country, but believe it or not, I am grateful.

There are two things about the event that I have recently come to realize:

1.  That God took me to the "promised land" but like Moses would not let me enter.  I could only look at it (and even then only in brief glimpses through the cloud breaks).

2.  More importantly, I have problems with dehydration.  I sweat buckets and buckets and become dehydrated very quickly no matter how much fluid I have.  Today I shampooed the carpet at a friend's house, and it took me about 3 hours, and in that three hours I totally soaked through my shirt and pretty much all of my clothing including my shoes, and I went through 64 oz of Gatorade.  That's the only thing that saved me from going into brain failure, I swear.  I over-heat when I am sweating like that and without inputing electrolytes, my brain starts to misfire.  I get shaky.  Recovery time takes a lot longer.

Some will scream that 64 oz is a massive amount of sugar intake, but the body needs sugar too, especially when you are working out hard like that (running both types of vacuums, moving furniture, etc.).  I was working by myself, so there was a lot of  craziness, and I don't like to muck about.  Just get in there and get it done.

Water just doesn't do the trick for that kind of sweating.  Sweat contains salt, and to lose that much salt from your system is dangerous without replacing it.  I would not be in as good a way at the moment had I not taken in such large amounts of Gatorade.

When I was preparing for the cross-country the week before Oct. 18, 2014, I took the bike out every day fully loaded for 25-35 miles.  On the days I had Gatorade, I did fine.  On the days I didn't, I struggled to the point of wanting to give up.  The energy just wasn't there.

When I am sweating profusely from physical exertion over a few to several hours, I am at risk for dehydration.  I didn't know this about myself in 2014, but I know it now.  Perhaps the Lord was holding me back for my own health.  He took me as far as needed in England, and he took me as far as he wanted on my bike journey in America.  Granted, the latter wasn't very far.

When I rode my bike 40 miles from West Hollywood to Long Beach in May 2014, I got down there and was severely dehydrated.  One leg had cramped up and was unable to pedal.  I had water and Gatorade on the bike but because I had been concerned where I could stop for bathroom breaks, I didn't avail myself of them too much.  I got to Long Beach and had completely soaked my shirt (I had a spare with me.)  I couldn't even pee for hours even as I began to flood my system with water and lemonade and anything to cool me down.

Perhaps in time I would have developed a way to read my body's need for fluid better and to deal with the sweat, but apparently God wanted me to rest instead.