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A One-Year Stroke Survivor

February 2, 2009 Steve Patterson 8 Comments

One year ago today my friend Marcia Behrendt was worried about me, entered my loft and found me on the floor where I had been for approximately 15 hours. I’d had a hemorrhagic stroke – a blood vessel in the right side of my brain burst the afternoon of Friday, February 1, 2008.  At first I thought it was just a headache but within 10 minutes I was on the floor unable to move.  I was certain my meter was about to expire!

That Saturday morning (Feb 2nd) I was taken by ambulance to Saint Louis University Hospital.  My friends tell me the emergency room on the day of the big Mardi Grad parade is a rather unpleasant place.  Sorry for my bad timing guys.

Here is a time line of major events:

  • 2/1/2008 – stroke in late afternoon
  • 2/2/2008 – found in the morning and rushed to Hospital
  • 2/17/2008 – off the ventilator and no longer being sedated
  • 2/18/2008 – friends post about my status, the first post for the month.
  • 2/19/2008 – moved out of ICU to a regular room.
  • 2/25/2008 – left SLUH for St Mary’s Hospital/SSM Rehab.  My first memory is from this date.
  • 2/28/2008 – 41st Birthday
  • 3/7/2008 – I dictate a post to Margie Newman who brought her wireless card for me to use on my laptop.
  • 3/17/2008 – Feeding tube removed.
  • 3/21/2008 – Left St. Mary’s for Missouri Rehabilitation Center in Mt. Vernon Missouri – West of Springfield.  One of my brothers drove up from Oklahoma to pick me up and take me to hospital #3.
  • 3/24/2008 – Guest on KDHX via phone.
  • 4/4/2008 – My first visitor in Mt. Vernon.  We get permission to leave the hospital and go into town for real food.  We use a folding wheelchair at this point because I still cannot walk far and not without a therapist present.
  • 4/24/2008 – Physical therapist authorizes me to be “independent in my room.”  I’m now cleared to transfer to a wheelchair or walk within my hospital room without a tech, nurse or therapist present.  But to walk 50ft to meals someone else must be with me.
  • 4/25/2008 – My longest walk since the stroke — 500ft.
  • 4/30/2008 – Returned home.  Met friends for Ethiopian dinner at Meskerem.
  • 6/24/2008 – Purchased used Toyota Corolla after selling my beloved Honda Metropolitan scooter.
  • 6/27/2008 – Driving evaluation.
  • 7/2/2008 – Drove my car home by myself.  My first time driving alone.
  • 8/7/2008 – Drove to Oklahoma City to visit family.
  • 9/11/2008 – I took a shower standing up!
  • October 2008 – 10 visits of occupational & physical outpatient therapy at St. Louis Rehabilitation.  The first therapy since April ’08..
  • 11/4/2008 – walked 30ft without using a cane, still wearing leg brace.
  • 1/25/2009 – Exited shower using straight cane rather than quad cane.

The above list is by no means complete.  I’ve had, and continue to have, lots of firsts.  I put together a short video which goes back to February of 2008:


It has been an interesting ride.  I’m glad I stuck around.  It is quite the weird experience to think you are going to die.  Waking up from sedation a few weeks later and realize you lived is amazing.  I guess it was the joy of still being alive that gave me the strength to make it through the last 11 months.

Thank you to Marcia, Rich, Andrew, Dustin, Patty, Shelley, Sam, Lois, Dionna, Margie, Antonio, Randy  and so many others.   Thank you to my friend & neighbor Diane for help these last 9 months I’ve been home. Thank you to the many therapists along the journey.  I’m sure I’ve forgotten someone — thank you too.


Currently there are "8 comments" on this Article:

  1. Tim says:

    Strokes run in my family. I’ve seen family members recover quickly and some not recover at all. I truly believe the recovery from a stroke depends on the persons will to recover.

    So stay positive.

  2. Mark Groth says:

    Amazing progress. Sorry you had to sell the Met.

  3. Darrin says:


    Although many of us only know you through the “Internets,” I feel it’s safe to say that St. Louis is a better place with you in it.

    [slp — thank you!]

  4. James R. says:

    You forgot the ‘flipping Dustin the bird’ milestone from this fall.

    [slp — I didn’t forget, just trying to be more dignified. But yes being able to flip the bird in October was a big deal — singling out the use of one digit shows good fine motor skills.]

  5. Richard Kenney says:

    Don’t forget, Marcia had to let your nurses in ICU know that there were likely numerous people in St. Louis (mainly in government) who wouldn’t mind seeing you dead! Let’s thank your nurses for their quiet vigilance in keeping your many life support machines snuggly plugged in!

  6. Margie says:

    Great video. I remember that ICU room well, and it gave me a chill to see it again. Steve, your determination is inspiring. I’m confident that this video will encourage other stroke survivors as to what is possible. You are a great case study in what hard work (and some good luck too) can do for one’s prognosis. Thanks for being open with your experience. Love, Margie

  7. Antonio says:

    Your progress has been incredible. We almost lost you, buddy. Each day is a gift and I’m glad that you’re still here to share them with us all. (PS — That “free ride” card is still valid whenever you want to cash it in.)

  8. Terry Light says:

    I don’t know what to write. Everyone who had a stroke should survive, that much is obvious, but a new person takes over that has the memories of the person who lived in the skin before. At least that is how it has been for me – and I was more coordinated! Please, everyone – link to StrokeUSA.com. We need a site about stroke survivors by stroke survivors to be found.


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