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Story ID:1890
Written by:Richard Laurent. Provencher (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:OurEcho Community
Location:Truro Nova Scotia Canada
Person:Richard L. Provencher
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© 2007 Richard L. Provencher

Being a stroke victim has its challenges. But I do prefer to dwell on the positives. Without a strong personal faith, a supportive wife, prayers from family and friends, I would not have survived to enjoy the miracle of life. It was eight years ago, the dragon’s teeth bit its way unexpectedly into my system. And I continue on my road to recovery, a journey that was quite challenging yet helped me realize what is important in life. One of these joys is the love of my dear wife, Esther and my other great involvement is in the field of writing. Poems, stories, picture books, juvenile novels and one family audience novel; bring it on.

In my story, ‘Recovery for Stroke Victims’ I indicate the type of exercises whispered to me from within my spirit, as I sat for untold hours, daily, in my living room. These simple body movements helped me immensely, in overcoming the symptoms of an alleged leaking aneurysm on the right side of my head. Considering the seriousness of my condition, it was remarkable what took place, through prayers, between the time of my stroke and finishing the second consecutive ambulance trip where two neurosurgeons awaited. The previous sentence refers to my story “Back Then” which fills in that particular period.

From my experiences these past eight years, recorded in great detail in my journal, it is hard to fathom how incredible the changes taking place. From being comatose for 45 minutes to being able to use fingers to type and think clearly has been truly remarkable. It is a testament to the recovery systems within the human body. As I lay comatose, I could hear EVERYTHING around me. I used to think such was not possible, and that the outer body depicted the true nature of its inner self.

As I lay on the ground that August day in 1999 it was as if I had entered a blackness, without movement or colour, nor features of any kind. I could pick out voices, from a friend, strangers and the fact there appeared to be much excitement going on. BUT, I did not realize it was me they were talking about or assisting. And later I spoke to a friend, whose son lived in a world of no communication, nor seeming understanding. “Bradley can hear every word you say,” I told her. And her answer from a mother who spoke incessantly to her child of love, whom she pushed around for years in a wheelchair, the boy who could not speak, nor move any aspect of his body, who lived in a seemingly comatose position continuously, said, “I know.”

To the caregiver of a stroke victim, who appears to be unable to hear, I say, “Speak directly to your loved one.” And let him/her know you are nearby. Remember every word you say is heard, and understood even though they may not be able to see you. It is not as an out of body experience, it is more like closing your eyes among a crowd, then in the blankness, without form or movement, it is like voices drifting about without understanding you are among them, soaking up decibels of sound. In the ambulance, I kept thinking, “That siren is awfully close, not realizing it was mine and I lay in the back.

I thought about the brief time I was in a comatose state, about 45 minutes. And often wondered what it would be like to be in that kind of limbo for a prolonged period. What really woke me up was the crashing of my ambulance bed against the hospital’s emergency entrance. I WAS ANNOYED by the noise. My peaceful state, sort of a comfortable slumber was aroused. And I woke up. Could it be that such victims be exposed to a similar kind of erratic noise embedded into a peaceful music, so that they could be induced to wake up. Nothing too sharp though, since any piercing sound really hurt my head for a long time. For years even some radio sounds, especially the feedback from a speaker system was like a knife being plunged into the right side of my head.

To those who are victims, I ask you to be patient with your rate of recovery. Test your mind with puzzle challenges. I played chess on my computer, hour after hour, and the thinking seemed to activate my brain, and to reclaim brain cells. I read how a stroke causes a blunt trauma, and somehow they had to be replaced through re-creation. All of us must be careful we do not continually compare the way things are now compared to the way they were. We must discipline our thoughts in this area and to guard our tongues, so we do not growl at those trying to help us. The tongue can be a nasty weapon and once words are said, it is too late to take them back. And truly it can be hard especially for men who may have to run to the washroom often. I had to carry a can for urination, since my own washroom was upstairs and it was impossible to get there in time.

In conclusion, I believe many stroke victims can reclaim some degree of usefulness in society. I drew heavily on prayers, and a supportive wife, assisted by my attitude of overcoming limitations. Ie I insisted on going to church regularly although it was painful to get out of bed, then time consuming to get dressed. At church, I had my wife on one side and a friend on the other to hold me in place so I did not fall out of place. My wife took me for car rides, so my eyes could adjust to a world outside of my cage at home. I forced myself to crawl across the floor to get from one side of the room to the other.

The above was one of my exercises. I read that unused muscles atrophy, and simply sitting gained weight, which I did and still struggle to lose what added to my frame from inactivity. One must strive to overcome otherwise the alternative is an acceptance of one’s severity. I do believe we all wish to be productive in society or in some way be meaningful to a loved one. And I chose to do so. Through my writing I hope to encourage others to join me in a new adventure.

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