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MUSINGS FROM A STROKE VICTIM essay

Story ID:4129
Written by:Richard Laurent. Provencher (bio, contact, other stories)
Organization:Retired
Story type:Biography
Location:Truro Nova Scotia Canada
Year:2008
Person:Richard L. Provencher
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It was eight years ago the dragon’s teeth bit its way unexpectedly into my system in the form of a debilitating stroke. And I continue my road to recovery, a journey that proved challenging yet opened my eyes to what is important in life. One is the love of my dear wife, Esther and the other is my great involvement in the field of writing.

Poems, stories, picture books, juvenile novels and one family audience novel; bring it on. The fulfillment I find in writing provided reason for me to work hard to come back from my stroke.

From my experiences these past eight years, recorded in great detail in my journal, it is hard to fathom how incredible the changes that have taken 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 and the desire to be the person I was before.

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. My experience has allowed me to change my opinions.

As I lay on the ground that August day in 1999, it was as if I 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.

Much 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 beloved child 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. I believe every word you say is heard, and understood even though the patient 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 akin to 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 as I lay on a back cot.

I was in a comatose state for a brief time, about 45 minutes. I 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 interrupted. And I woke up.

Could it be that such victims who are exposed to a similar kind of erratic noise, rather than embedded in peaceful music, might 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 songs, 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 these cells had to be replaced through re-creation. All of us stroke victims OR patients 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 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 strongly 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 working to overcome limitations.

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. 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.

Crawling) 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 and further deterioration.

I do believe we all wish to be productive in society or in some way be meaningful to a loved one. And I make that choice each and every day.

* * *

© Richard L. Provencher 2007

Richard & Esther Provencher invite you to read their first of three novels ‘FOOTPRINTS” now available from www.synergebooks.com. “Someone’s Son” and “Into The Fire” will also be available soon by the same company. These books were written during the first several years while Richard was recovering from his stroke, which felled him in 1999. He is still recovering. The link to “FOOTPRINTS” is as follows: http://www.synergebooks.com/ebook_footprints.html