Monday, January 15, 2018

Healthy Habits: You Get Bitter. Or You Get Better.

After my husband, Joe, suffered a stroke on June 14, 2016, together he and I began to forge a new path for ourselves: one filled with concern, anxiety and an education into a health arena that we had never expected to encounter.  

There were lessons learned, as well; lessons that reached beyond the medical field, lessons of the human spirit and how far we – as individuals, and as a couple - can stretch in times of peril.  

At the rehabilitation hospital where my husband, Joe, spent several weeks following his strokes, I made it my job to shadow the various therapists as they helped him regain his strength, mobility, flexibility, speech and language skills.  

It was in this manner that I began to understand my part in his rehabilitation; continuing the exercises those kind and knowledgeable therapists presented to him on a daily basis.   

In physical therapy Joe relearned how to walk securely as he graduated from a shuffle to his customary gait – one foot strongly in front of the other as he propelled himself forward and up and down stairs with confidence.

The occupational therapists provided him with exercises that eventually strengthened his right hand and retaught those muscles how to grasp a pen, use a fork and employ that dominant hand to transport food from his plate to his mouth.  

In speech therapy Joe slowly regained fluency; his slurred speech became clearer and the aphasia, which kept words hidden from his expressive speech, started to dissipate.  He was able to more easily communicate through the spoken word. 

Through this all Joe never lost his sense of humor.  Nor did I.   

It was during one conversation while the aphasia still had its hold on Joe that he looked at me and, trying to convey a thought, used a totally inappropriate word in place of the one he had wanted to say.  All we could do was look at each other and burst out laughing.  Anyone walking past the room at that moment might have assumed we were making light of his predicament.  But that was most certainly not the case.  What we were doing was heeding the message we had seen on a hand-painted plaque hanging on the wall outside the physical therapy gym at the hospital:

You get bitter or you get better:
It’s that simple.  Take what has been dealt
to you, and allow it to make you a stronger
person, or allow it to tear you down.  The
Choice is yours.  Choose wisely.

Joe has chosen to get better.  Not bitter.

And that has helped us both more than any other therapy he could have had at the rehabilitation hospital.  

CJ Golden may be a sweet, 70-something grandma-type; however, she is anything but typical. Golden’s voice is one of a kind that imparts wisdom while staying completely accessible to her audiences; like a spunky fairy-godmother with the occasionally red or green tipped hair, she is a shoulder to lean on and a ‘rock on’ motivator all in one. Her upcoming book, One Pedal at a Time: A Novice Caregiver and her Cyclist Husband Face their new Normal with Courage, Tenacity, and Abundant Love, follows the year-long journey of a long distance cyclist during and after cancer-induced strokes.

No comments:

Post a Comment