Friday, July 17, 2009

My Story in North Carolina Stroke Association's "Update Stroke"

I was asked by the North Carolina Stroke Association to write about my recovery and my Stroke Recovery DVD project. Here is the article from their "Update Stroke" publication. I am also a letter writer and rider in their Cycle fro Life event this October. There is an entry on the event below, complete with links about the ride. Scroll down or click here. Click it, it's a hyperlink.. Here's a link to the North Carolina Stroke Association Click it, it's a hyperlink. And, here's one to Update Stroke. Click it, it's a hyperlink.

Telling the Story
By Ralph Preston, Asheville, North Carolina

As with everyone who has had a stroke, my world changed the day it happened to me. On April 4, 2008, the day began, like so many others, with me on my stationary bicycle, pedaling hard as I trained for the upcoming Senior Games. As I neared the end of my ride, I became aware that my left leg was not working right. The terrifying trip to the hospital and the diagnosis of right-side hemorrhagic stroke seemed unlikely to happen to me, a 58-year-old who was in such good physical shape. But it did happen to me. I became a statistic:one of over 700,000 people per year who experience a stroke.

I was hospitalized at Mission Hospitals in Asheville, NC, where I progressed from the neurological wing of the hospital to the rehabilitation facility at CarePartners, which is located in Asheville. I graduated to the outpatient physical and occupational therapy sessions as I was discharged to my home in Franklin. Once I was medically discharged, and on my own, I began to ask many questions about my experience. I was seeking answers that could give me a clear picture of what I had experienced. Each physician and therapist I saw in during the post-stroke phase had a piece of the puzzle, but it seemed that no one had the whole picture, due to the overwhelming complexity of the stroke syndrome.

I began to realize the many questions I had might be the experience of others in stroke recovery. Since my physical, mental, and emotional recovery was a priority, I set out to regain as many of my pre-stroke abilities as I was able. I am a videographer and still photographer by profession, and I wanted to be able to take pictures with my camera again. While working out every day was difficult and time-consuming, I felt strongly that there was nothing more important. I kept a positive attitude and worked every day to rebuild my body.
Starting with assisted laps in the driveway, I worked my way up to hiking five miles on the Appalachian Trail four months after my stroke. I was back on my bicycle and cycling within 10 months, pedaling as much as 20 miles at a time. I walk almost every day, and I work out to an exercise video, as both help to restore coordination and balance. I recently competed in the Macon County Senior Games by cycling 10 kilometers in 24 minutes and coming in second.

I will compete in the September NC Senior Games in Raleigh, and I will be will be cycling in the NC Stroke Associations annual benefit ride, “Cycle for Life”, held each year at Hanover Park Vineyard, in Yadkinville, NC. I will be writing letters for the event in my effort to raise money for the NC Stroke Association’s Grant Program.

My stroke opened up an opportunity as I navigated through the recovery process. I began to piece together answers to the questions most stroke survivors have, as they try to live with change, and begin anew. With my professional background as a video producer and director with over 30 years of experience, I decided to use my talents to gather information about stroke syndrome and provide it to the people who need it most: people in stroke recovery and their caregivers. I am planning a DVD featuring stroke professionals answering as many of these questions as possible. Several levels of exercise will be featured and guided by physical and occupational therapists. I believe a positive attitude plays such a large role in recovery. To that end, persistence and hope will be underlying themes of the DVD. This project will help the thousands of people actively engaged in recovering from stroke, as they meet the day-to-day challenges toward healing.

1 comment:

  1. Ralph, What a wonderfully inspiring story and triumph. Thank you for sharing it with all of us.

    Andrea Keating