I had a right-side hemorrhagic stroke on April 4, 2008. I spent 5 days at Mission Hospital in Asheville, NC and then 17 days at CarePartners, a rehab hospital also in Asheville. I have made quite the recovery. I am a photographer and videographer and have relearned to use my cameras, which is most important to me, including my 26-pound broadcast camera. I have walked 7 miles on the beach. I have walked 3 miles out and 3 miles back on the Appalachian Trail to the top of a mountain with 1500 feet of elevation gain. I got back on my bike. Recently, I rode my mountain bike 22 miles on the beach in less than 2 hours and rode a 20-mile bike trail in an hour and 15 minutes. I walk or bike every day as well as doing my OT exercises every day. I am enterd in the NC Senior Games, which I was training for when I had my stroke. I am going to ride in and be a letter writer to raise money in NC Stroke Associations “Cycle for Life” bike ride this October. They are also featuring me in the June issue of Update stroke. I have also been asked to be a motivational speaker at Life Care Centers of America’s annual meeting in June.
I live by this attitude quote. It saved my life and allowed me to make the recovery I did. I am in the process of making a poster with this quote and a "magic moment" shot between a patient and therapist at CarePartners. "Transferring Knowledge, Power, and Love" is what I made up to describe the magic moment I am looking for. I think it should hang in every rehab facility in the country in the staging area where everyone will see it.
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is to play on the one string we have and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. An so it is with you…we are in charge of our Attitudes!”
I have developed methods for integrating PT & OT into normal life. For OT I do everything with my left hand. I dubbed it, "The Affected Hand Olympics". For PT, I balance on my affected leg when standing in lines. I look at the horizon, close my eyes, or look left or right while walking on the beach to improve balance, etc. Of course, this is in addition to walking or biking every day and doing my OT exercises every day. I believe you are either going forward or you are going backwards. See the post called "Integration: Beyond Involvement" for more on this.
Me & Kathy (my PT) walking out of CarePartners
photo by Deborah Thomas
Standing on a 2 x 4 with my 26-lb. Betacam at a Habitat build
photo by Andy Leonard
Doing an interview in the mud at a Habitat build
photo by Andy Leonard
The pictures here are all post stroke. I am told I am the one of the few in recent memory that walked out of Care Partners. In the first Habitat picture, I am standing on a 2" x 4" with my 26-lb. Betacam. Look at that left-hand involvement in the Habitat interview shot. The Habitat pictures were taken 5 months after I left Care Partners.
There is Always Hope for the Future
(Great Spangled Fritillary at the Cowee Mound)
My therapist asked me one day if I had hope for the future. I replied, "That's a silly question, there is always hope for the future." She said not everyone felt that way. Two days later when I was at the Cowee Mound (an ancient Cherokee site and my favorite place on earth) taking this picture of a Great Spangled Fritillary, it made me think about hope for the future. So. I named the picture "There is Always Hope for the Future" and made her a print. This was at about 7 weeks on my own, when I was getting better at getting up from kneeling, like I did to take this picture.