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Returning to Normalcy: The New Normal

What is the new normal?

Well, it’s different for each of us. Not only are we different people, but our strokes are different in every way - intensity, type, etc.. While all our residual effects are all different. Finally, our motivation levels are different. In essence, we’re trying to compare apples with oranges, as they say! This next statement may be redundant, as I’ve said it a number of times, as have some of our guest authors; but I think it bears repeating...


Within minutes, we’ve been presented with a new body and mind - damaged, at that! Additionally, the trauma occurred without our permission! This wasn’t cosmetic surgery that turned out beautifully, enhancing your appearance beyond your wildest dreams, thus improving your self esteem! No, this would be the opposite - beyond your wildest nightmare!


So how in the heck do we now function physically, and cope mentally?!


Well, let me first say - it takes time, therapy and patience!


Next, we need to get creative about how to function on a daily basis with our respective physical side effects; and how to manage our mental deficits and emotions.


PHYSICAL

This is where you and others first notice your deficits. But - there are ways to manage it.

  • Physical Therapy (PT): A must to get a handle on managing your drop foot so as not to trip and fall. Additionally, strengthening your damaged muscles, improving stamina and balance, as well as learning how to cope with the inability to walk safely and comfortably.

  • Devices: The correct devices can help tremendously! Your therapist will know the best to assist your unique deficits and your financial situation.

  • As you know from my videos and blog posts, I use the Bioness L300 GO, an electronic stimulator that lifts my foot and thrusts it up and outward. CLICK HERE to watch me talk about this in a video.

  • But that’s only one device - there are many others. Ask your therapist for recommendations. You can also check out very helpful products on a few pages, click here for the first set of Top Ten products, and click here for the second set!

OCCUPATIONAL

Occupational Therapy (OT), these gifted therapists can assist you with many daily activities, like:

  • Shoe Laces

  • Eating with a knife/fork

  • Working again

  • Cooking

  • Emptying the dishwasher

  • Lifting a laundry basket

  • Dressing

  • Bathing/Showering

  • Many more daily activities.

MOST IMPORTANTLY...

Your 1st responsibility is to ask for what you need/want to re-learn.


Your 2nd responsibility is to implement what you’ve learned into your daily routine.


Home visits are common. What happens is - you request a home visit for the OT to come to your home to see what s/he can help you with, and recommend for you, in your home environment!


So, don’t be afraid to ask! You have every right to do so and it’s vital if you want to get better.

APHASIA (Communication):

A specialized OT (usually called a Speech Therapist) manages this intricate recovery process.

*You will be receiving an upcoming blog post on this unique area of occupational therapy, written by a seasoned, excellent speech therapist, so hang in there, as help is on the way!


MENTAL HELP

I’ve written about this previously, as has Kathleen Todd, psychotherapist.

These are some of the ways I’ve been able to improve through the advice and teachings of my PTs and OT’s are:

  • WALKING each day, adding a bit more each day and recording the steps on my app, and changing the pace frequently. I am also working on challenging myself to walk more and “do” more than I think I can. As my PT, Eric Mace, at Entire Care in Sedona says, “You must push yourself out of your comfort zone in order to improve!”

Two examples of how Eric my PT helped me with this in therapy:

  • He put me on the treadmill (I was in a harness) and the longer I was on it, the more he ramped up the speed, until I thought I was gonna die, but I didn’t and finished it without incident! I felt VERY proud of myself AFTERWARDS!

  • When we were in Glacier Park, MT this fall, I walked The Trail of the Cedars. It was the first time I’d walked 4,687 steps at one time!

  • The Sit-To-Stand routine is very effective for strength and balance; and you can do it anywhere! Click here to find an example by the American Heart Association for those post-stroke.

  • I now wear my wrist watch again - sole for the practice of moving my wrist, as supination and pronation continue to be challenges for me.

  • I attend regular gym workouts at Ability 360, Phoenix with Brielle Carter, my personal trainer.

  • The Bioness H200 is an electronic device for the hand (like the leg one I wear) that I use to practice performing small motor skills at home, and in therapy with Mark Ritter, my OT at Entire Care Sedona. Click to watch a quick video on how this works.

  • Below you can find me working with Mark Ritter with another wonderful device and company, the Active Hand.

  • For incontinence, I practice pelvic exercises I learned from Bonnie Pond at NA Medical Center in Verde Valley. She wrote a fabulous article on this for us, click here to read.

  • For utilizing my hand/arm in daily life, I attempt to open and close doors with my affected hand/arm.

To keep my mind sharp, I...

  • Write this blog

  • Meditate daily

  • Do the Lumosity app & other brain exercises

  • Work with Dr. Berry on eye exercises that stimulate the portions of my brain that need to be awakened and enhance the stronger areas; and obtain regular laser + oxygen treatments to reduce the inflammation and heal the brain.

There are many others, but there’s a final one that’s very special --- my dear therapist, Mark Ritter, designed a strap that attaches to my car door so I can work on closing the door with my left (affected) arm/hand. I will soon publish a video of how I use this and how handy it is for those of us back to driving!


To keep my emotions in check as well as I can, I...

To balance out the energy in my body, I...

In conclusion, I work every single day to come “back to normal”. But what I have realized is that I am a new me - and this is going to take new motivation from mySELF to enhance what’s left of the old me. I’ve decided that if I’m going to be this way, I’m going to be the best t new me I can! I’ve accepted the fact (most days) that I have lost a number of things, but I can enhance the parts of me that are still there - my spirit, my love of life and people, and my desire to help others fight this fight everyday! Acceptance is not giving up - it’s the ability to sit back and realize that fighting it is counterproductive, which I know is hard to do.


Stay consistent and positive my friends - it DOES get better. Have a wonderful day. Please feel free to share this article to those that it may benefit - or write in and tell us some things that help YOU return to normal.

Maureen

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