BACK FROM A STROKE–For most of us, this is Thanksgiving week, a time for family and friends to come together and celebrate all that we’ve achieved, accomplished, sacrificed for and survived in the past year.
It is that last part that I’m so thankful for. I’ve survived a debilitating stroke, and am thankful that Almighty GOD has seen fit that I’ve lived to tell about it.
On Nov. 6th after dropping my daughter, KaLa, off at school, I had a hard time walking on my left leg later that morning. It got bad enough where I felt it best to cancel some appointments.
By that evening, I really couldn’t walk at all without a cane or walker. Indeed, at one point I fell. I wasn’t feeling any pain, as you would expect, and I was clear-headed the whole time.
My wife urged me to go to the emergency room, but two things stopped me – I wasn’t so sure a good night’s rest wouldn’t fix the problem, and secondly, we’ve had to go to emergency rooms at nighttime for KaLa, and the level of care and medical access is severely limited as opposed to during the daytime.
I decided to take that night’s rest (I’ve had both legs buckle on me before because of a bad back, but improve in the morning), and if it didn’t get better by morning, see a doctor for sure.
Next morning, nothing improved. No pain, but no function in the left leg either. Plus my left arm, all of a sudden, seemed weaker and slightly less controllable.
I assured my wife and child that I would decisively deal with it (so they wouldn’t hang around and worry), sent then off to school and work, and then emailed two doctor friends of mine with the symptoms. They both surmised serious neurological problems and urged me to get to an emergency immediately.
I knew if I drove myself to the hospital ER talking about not being able to walk, I would be sitting there past noon, so I called 911 instead so that I would be treated immediately.
Luckily the hospital was just five minutes away, and it wasn’t long before doctors there diagnosed me the victim of a mild stroke, hoping that both a CAT scan and MRI would not only confirm, but locate exactly where the stroke struck.
Sure enough, tests showed that a mild stroke struck the right bottom part of my brain with controls the left side functions of my body. I needed medication to thin my blood to prevent further strokes, control my high blood sugar, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, none of which I had been taking beforehand.
I was in the hospital for five days, during which time it was determined that with proper rehab I will regain that use of my left leg, and that the stroke did not affect my occupational functions (think, talk, etc).
On November 11th, I was released from the hospital, starting a new phase of my life of rehabilitation.
But even before I was released, word leaked out of my illness, and the public reaction from friends, colleagues, my bosses and social media was overwhelming.
Thanks to your collective prayers and best wishes, and GOD’s blessings and my family’s extraordinary selflessness, three weeks later I am physically stronger, walking around the house WITHOUT a cane or walker, and keeping my mind and skills sharp (indeed, now that I’m resting and eating better, they’re even SHARPER, so watch out now!). I’m giving my body, and particularly my affected left arm and leg, a great deal of rest when not exercising or rehabbing as required. Sticking to my strict regimen of meds and diet. Only issue is blood pressure, and my doc doubled up on the med to deal with that. So I’m doing well, folks.
I’ve written my “Cash in the Apple” column for this Thanksgiving edition, and hopefully will be back to full duty by the third week in December. For my radio side, I’ve taped several interviews to produce for future editions of “MAKE IT HAPPEN” on Power 750 WAUG-AM (www.waug-network.com) as we begin our goal to take the urban talk magazine statewide.
Make no mistake – I will be sharing my experience with this stroke during my normal radio guest spots on WLIB-AM in New York and WPTF-AM in Raleigh, hoping that people will listen enough to change their lifestyle so that they, too, don’t fall prey.
I’m certainly not out of the woods. It will be a while before my left leg will be whipped back to normal shape, but the rest and rehab are indeed working wonders. But being able to keep my mind and skills sharp has been, beyond the blessings of GOD and love of my family and friends, a “best” medicine, because keeping a mindset of purpose gives me the discipline to follow every directive necessary to heal completely. Sleeping or watching TV all day doesn’t cut it for me, doesn’t help me stand stronger. Sometimes when we retire many of our older citizens, we don’t realize that they still need “purpose.”
My late mother’s purpose after her retirement, and after her massive stroke in 1989 left her partially paralyzed on one side for a period of time, was tending to her plants. It helped her focus, get up every morning, and feel that she still had value. My mother died in January 2009, many years after her massive stroke, because she was a creature of purpose, and the strongest human being I’ve ever known…or loved.
I AM my mother’s son. I, too, thrive on purpose. I am honest enough to admit that I was playing Russian roulette with my health prior to this stroke, eating what I wanted, when I wanted, taking no medication. I was damned foolish then, without question, especially since I have a family. That’s now in the past. My absolute prime mission now IS to heal, and to operate better and smarter than I ever have. I’m indeed excited about that, and the prospects. And I am absolutely convinced that Almighty GOD spared my mind because HE’S not through with me yet.
But in order for me to have the confidence to move forward toward healing, I have to rebuild the confidence in me FIRST! Can I still do what I did before (without walking), and can I even think of ways now to do it better? THIS is the time, during this pause for healing, to determine that.
Thus far, I’m pleased with the answers, and excited about the prospects. And since I’m not on anyone’s clock right now, I’m able to do my thing at my speed and comfort, thus getting the requisite rest.
So those concerned that, after being down for three weeks, I’m moving too fast, I love you for your concern. But as a creature of purpose, if I don’t begin rebuilding my confidence as I also rebuild my ability to walk, then the rehabilitation will be incomplete for me. You may be different, and I understand and respect that if you are. But this is me.
The road back will be slow and long, folks…but there IS a road, and I’m traveling in the right direction, at the right speed. GOD bless, and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.