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Thankful to be a stroke survivor

November 26, 2009 Steve Patterson 4 Comments

For nearly two years now I’ve been thankful every day that I am a stroke survivor.  That moment when you are certain your life will soon be over is surreal.  When I awoke from sedation in ICU almost a month later just the idea of still being alive was more important than the fact I couldn’t move my left side and that I had a tracheotomy to enable me to breath while I was on a ventilator.  Early on I was so very thankful the doctors didn’t reinsert the speaking valve after I removed it in my first days awake.

I’ve adjusted to my physical limitations.  It helps that each day, week, month my physical limitations are fewer.  In a way I am thankful for having had a stroke.  That may sound weird but it helped me lose 80 lbs.  I have become a more organized, focused person as a result.  As a disabled person I will be a better urban planner. Accessibility is not just minimum widths from guidelines for me — it is very real.

I’m thankful for my family, friends and all of you that read this blog.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

– Steve Patterson


I’m Honored, Best Blog 2009

September 30, 2009 Site Info, Steve Patterson 7 Comments

For the fifth year in a row UrbanReviewSTL has been honored to make the annual RFT Best Of issue.  For 2009 this blog was named by the editors of the Riverfront Times as the Best Blog in St. Louis (link).

Previous recognition:

  • Best Civic-Minded Blog, 2005
  • Reader’s Choice for Best Blog, 2006, 2007, 2009

Thank you to the RFT editors and to all of you, the readers.

I do want to correct one sentence from their flattering piece, “In 2008 Patterson had a stroke that left him paralyzed on his left side.” While my left side was paralyzed following the stroke, that is no longer the case today.  Tomorrow marks the 20 month anniversary of my stroke and I’ve been working hard to build new connections between my brain and my left side.   My brain once again controls my left side — shoulder, elbow, wrist, fingers, hip, knee and ankle.  Not toes, though.  I did have a nasty fall in August, fracturing my left arm at the wrist.  Full recovery takes many years but I’m well on my way.

Thanks again for reading!

– Steve Patterson


Bike to Work Day Friday May 15th

Tomorrow, Friday May 15, 2009, is bike to work day, as part of National Bike Month:

May 15, 2009, Friday 6:30 – 9:00 AM
Join Trailnet for a continental breakfast during your bike commute to work! Three refueling stations:

I work from home and suffered a stroke 15 months ago so…

Well, even I decided to get into the spirit this week:

Tuesday evening.
Above: yours truly Tuesday evening.

I didn’t ride far but the important thing is I did ride a bit.  Here is proof:


So if I can get myself onto a trike can’t you ride your bike to work tomorrow?


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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