Monday, October 20, 2014

I am a Stroke Survivor

I am a stroke survivor.

There are those who don’t know what that is and there are those that do.  More on the ones that do, later. But for those that don’t it means you went through the fire of having a stroke and lived to tell the tale.

All strokes are like snow flakes-different. Mine was an ischemic stroke, a blood clot stopped the flow of oxygen to my brain. I was in a coma for two days. Can you say bad? My stroke was bad and I almost died.

But didn’t.

I’ll speak later about those early days, the rehab, the dawning that life would be different.  But first, what I do now, nine years later to help get and keep the odds in my favor of never having a stroke again.

The stroke survivors who are out there know that surviving comes with a bit of baggage. Yes, we’re still here but you have to be always on guard, always vigilant about never being in that dark place again.

These are a few tips, a few things I do to help those odds work for me. First…

Exercise.

People think that means joining a gym. That takes money and if a gym is in your budget, I’m fine with that. If it is, do the elliptical for 30 minutes every other day, if you can.  Start with baby steps, I did.  5 minutes at first, then graduate to ten and on and on till you work up to half an hour.  I say that amount of time because you don’t want to do too much, hurt something, and have to sit until that something heals.

Same for the treadmill but keep in mind that the knees come into play with it and they will let you know if something is wrong or if you’re over doing it. Low elevation is fine but remember you’re not training for a marathon and do what’s right for you. The key is to raise your heart rate. The heart is a muscle and the stronger it is, well the stronger it is. That’s a good thing. One thing, my stroke affected my dominant side. I’m right handed, and my right side doesn’t work like it did pre-stroke. You may be in that same boat but know you have company in there with you. I had to make adjustments and be extra careful so I wouldn’t fall down but it can be done. Don’t let your worries stop you from the help.

Now on to exercise that doesn’t cost anything.

Last time I checked walking was free. Moving is key and walking falls right in that category. Notice I didn’t say power walking. Just walking. Walking helps the heart, the flow of blood, and helps those odds I’ve been talking about work in your favor. Start small and work up.   You don’t have to walk ten miles, start in front of your house or apartment. Then maybe to the end of your street. Then around the block. There is no hurry as you’re not training for something. Try to get out there as often as you can or as often as you feel like it. But get out there. And keep in mind, out there includes trees, birds, neighbors, fresh air, good stuff. And don’t worry about what people might think or say about this person slowly moving along.

You’re on a mission.

A healthy one.

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