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No Longer Scared

One year ago today I was very scared.  It was my first day waking up at home, in my own bed, alone,  following three months of hospitalization after a massive hemorrhagic stroke on 2/1/08.

I had become used to someone coming in with medicines, serving me meals and even helping me with toileting and showering.  I’d had a button to press if I needed anything.   But a year ago today I was now on my own to care for myself.  Like I said, scary.

Starting that morning and for the last year my morning routine has been the same: unlock front door and take my morning pills (4).  Yes, I unlocked the door to my loft each and every day for the last year. I had a fear I’d fall or have another stroke so I kept the door unlocked during the day ‘just in case.’ Only once was this an issue — I had a real estate agent and his client come into my place.  I was surprised and explained that I’d be the first to know if I were selling my own loft.  “But the key worked!”  With the door unlocked he thought the key worked.  They were looking for my unit number in the adjacent building in my condo association.

Early on I had a few modifications done in my place: grab bars on the toilets and a hand shower + tub bench in the master bathroom.  It helped that my loft is very open with few interior doors.

While I lived alone I was never without help.  I have good friends both down the hall and throughout the St. Louis area that have, and continue to provide, greatly appreciated assistance.  Over the course of the last year the level and type of assistance has changed.  It was mid-July 2008 before I got a car and started driving so I leaned on friend’s for rides to the office, doctor and to grocery stores.  Now it is hanging pictures and assembling furniture.

I started writing this post a month ago or so but recently I got a reminder.  Last Sunday morning a cousin was awoken just before 4am by her husband — he couldn’t move his left arm.  While sleeping he had a stroke.  The ambulance got him to the hospital quickly so the damage was less severe than with me.  But I’m now a sort of mentor & coach for both of them about what to expect in therapy and when he returns to their suburban Chicago townhouse.  It is bringing up the difficulty I’ve faced for the last 15 months since the stroke.

I don’t want any pity.  I’ve learned to adapt and overcome my physical issues. I’m already telling my cousin not to do too much for her husband — he must learn to do for himself.  If you live alone make sure you have several people you talk with on a daily basis.  Make sure more than one of those has a key or that they all know who to contact with a key.

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I Want To Ride My Bicycle

Warming weather always gets me thinking of the 1978 Queen song,  Bicycle Race:

I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like

I actually have two bikes.  One is an urban hybrid — “uglified” with stickers and such to reduce the odds of theft.  The second bike is the opposite — still urban, but very handsome.  I can tell you the last time I rode it — Saturday December 22, 2007.

12/22/07 - Stopped at Uma at 11th & Locust.
12/22/07 - Stopped at Uma at 11th & Locust.
Then visited Macys, parking at 7th & Locust
Then visited Macy's, parking at 7th & Locust
Finished trip at City Grocers at 10th & Olive.
Finished trip at City Grocers at 10th & Olive.

I had recently moved to 16th & Locust so my total distance wasn’t that great.  But as you can see I had to use other items to secure my bike while visiting stores.  City & downtown leaders have been concerned, for decades,  about providing massive quantities of automobile parking they overlooked the need for bike parking.

Despite the lack of bike parking it was a fun trip. At the time I was car-free, using my 49cc Honda Metropolitan scooter to travel longer distances.  The scooter was great but there is just something special about using a bike for transportation, getting from A to B to C under your own power.

Bicycle races are coming your way
So forget all your duties oh yeah
Fat bottomed girls they’ll be riding today
So look out for those beauties oh yeah
On your marks get set go
Bicycle race bicycle race bicycle race

Six weeks after this December bike ride downtown I suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke (2/1/08).  Although I cannot yet ride a bike, I’m optimistic that I will again.  This bike is so stunningly beautiful I must once again ride it!  Maybe next Spring?

Info on my bike:

  • Brand: Kronan (a Swedish brand)
  • Manufactured: Eastern Europe
  • Purchased from a San Diego bike shop
  • Single speed, coaster brake, 50 lbs! — old school.  3spd models available
  • New reproduction of WWII Swedish army bike
  • once again available in the US, order here (sorry no more orange), $500-$700.

And finally be sure to watch the official Bicycle Race video featuring naked women bicycling.

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Another Anniversary

March 21, 2009 Steve Patterson, Travel Comments Off on Another Anniversary

Regular readers know I suffered a major stroke on 2/1/08 and spent all of February, March and April 2008 in three hospitals recovering and receiving therapy.  A year ago today I transferred from hospital #2 to #3.  This was a big deal because except for a few times in therapy I had not been outdoors for very nearly two months.  My middle brother Randy drove up from Oklahoma City to drive me to Missouri Rehabilitation Center in Mt. Vernon, Missouri — a 4 hour trip made longer by flooding along the Meramec River.

Staff at St. Mary’s/SSM Rehab helped get me into his car for the trip.  It was scary because I couldn’t walk yet and we had no wheelchair with us for the journey.  I managed to get there without needing facilities.  It was Good Friday.

Once there I of course waited in the car as Randy went inside to tell them we had arrived.  The facility and grounds are quite attractive but the addmitting entrance (above) is less than appealing.

I spent five weeks there.  Turns out the director is named Steve Patterson.  I returned in August for a quick visit as I pased by on I-44 headng to Oklahoma. I was scared as I arrived and scared to leave and return home.  They taught me well so my recovery continues to progress.

 

Happy Birthday to Me!

February 28, 2009 Steve Patterson 12 Comments

Today is my 42nd birthday.

As most of you know, I came very close to not reaching 41 due to a stroke on 2/1/08. But I did survive and on February 25th last year I was moved from Saint Louis University Hospital to St. Mary’s/SSM Rehab.  That day I remember seeing one of my brothers and a cousin.  I don’t remember the ambulance ride to St. Mary’s at all.

A few days later my friends came to my room to help me celebrate my 41st birthday. I remember them being there.  I “borrowed” my own iPhone and called my friend Rich Kenney in Seattle after I learned he had flown in to see me.  He was pleasantly shocked to hear my voice.  At that point I did not yet grasp how long I had been out or how close to death I had come.  March 7th I will be flying to Seattle visit Rich for Spring Break – a well deserved getaway.

I hope to have many more birthdays.

 

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:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKulXmp54g8[/youtube]

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.

 

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