Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Greatest Birthday Present Ever!

My Birthday, November 25 this year, happened to fall on Turkey Day. Yipee! That gave me a 4 day weekend in which to celebrate. I received the gifts of good food, good friends, warmth of body, love of family and laughter. I also received the best gift ever; being able to help a family in crisis.

Since my stroke, I have become a peer mentor at the hospital where I survived and began recovering from my stroke. As a peer mentor I go to the hospital and visit with stroke survivors and their families who are about to go home. Going home after suddenly becoming disabled, physically or mentally or sometimes both, is daunting beyond imagining for the survivor and the family. On Saturday of the T-Day holiday weekend I was called to visit a 46 year old woman. I will call her Molly. She had just survived a series of left brain strokes. She has no insurance, therefore, she was unable to take advantage of the in-patient physical & occupational therapy at the hospital. Her family has meager means, thus, her prospects for a robust recovery are slim. Her social worker was able to get her into a "nursing" home for 2 weeks to do some physical & occupational therapy before going home. Molly was refusing to go to the home. When I got to her room her adult daughter was outside the door sobbing, inside the husband was too. They were so frustrated because they correctly saw this as Molly's one chance for therapy. I recognized that she was terrified and also knew that the sooner she engaged in therapy the better were her chances of recovering lost function. After gaining her trust I asked her about her fears. I listened and listened. When she was finally spent I explained the value of this therapeutic opportunity over and over until finally she agreed to go, for "1 week". Hopefully once she's been there for "1 week" she will realize the value of staying for 2. I will never know. But, I do know that the hug of her daughter gave me as I left was topped only by her smile.

P.S. Soon after my return home I read an article out of Stroke Connection Magazine the articles of which are all written by stroke survivors. In this article the author was explaining what was good about his stroke. I couldn't believe it!!! I tossed the magazine. I get it now. If I had not survived my stroke. I would not have been able to help this family.