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I Have Missed This View, on KDHX Monday

April 24, 2008 Downtown, Steve Patterson Comments Off on I Have Missed This View, on KDHX Monday

Just days prior to my stroke I took a series of pictures from my balcony and from the shared rooftop space:

Above is the view from my balcony looking North. I’ve been away for nearly three months now but I know the view is unchanged. CPI Corp. hasn’t built a new building on their surface parking lot (that would be nice).

A guy was found murdered in the parking garage of the Ventana (right above).

The view is still in place for my return to St Louis and back to my own place.

Tune in Monday evening at 7pm on 88.1 or online at kdhx.org and I will talk about my rehabilitation, the date I return to St. Louis (soon) and share details on a welcome back party in my honor. I’ll also talk about being disabled and what life is like in a wheelchair.  Of course host DJ Wilson and I will talk about current development issues in St Louis.


Downtown Springfield, MO, a follow-up visit & rehab update

Not even being a patient in a rehab hospital will prevent me from getting out and about. This past weekend my two older nieces and their mom came up from Oklahoma City to visit me. On Saturday they indulged me and we headed eastbound on I-44 to Springfield, MO. My last post on Springfield was nearly three years ago — from when I was there for a class to get certified as a bicycle safety instructor.

Our first stop was to satisfy my nieces’ husbands — we stopped at a Brown Derby Liquor store to get some He’Brew beer so they could take it back to them. It was here that I saw something a bit odd.

A bike rack at a liquor store.

Personally I think we need to have bike parking everywhere, including liquor stores. Such parking could serve employees as well as customers. However the way this rack is mounted up on that curb I think it reduces some of the utility — perhaps it works ok in practice.

Our real destination was downtown and the Park Central Square (see map).

According to When Missouri Took The Trolley by Andrew Young, Springfield’s first horse drawn trolley line originated in the Square, opening on April 15, 1881. In short order additional lines would open— most converging on the square but heading different directions. Eventually electric lines replaced horses for powering the vehicles. St. Louis investors were among some of the early backers of these lines.

St Louis based developer Kevin McGowan and his company Blue Urban have plans to convert the old Heer’s Department store (above) into lofts. Several other smaller buildings on the square have already been converted and at sidewalk level are a couple of coffee houses. A hip new public library branch is open in one of the storefront spaces.

Around a portion of the square remains an earlier attempt to revitalize the area — a concrete canopy that once encircled the square. Facades of once beautiful buildings were blocked by this attempt to give the area a uniform open air mall look. Thankfully this awning has been removed from the other three corners.

The Square’s center is still a bit on the dated side. It was a nice day while we were there but we saw few people out.

Despite the dated appearance we ventured into the center and took time to pose for a picture — On my left is Patty and on my right is Shelley — their mom, my oldest brothers first wife, Sam, took the picture.

Well, since I am sharing personal family photos, above is me & Sam on the square. All three are Oklahoma State fans so I wore my Oklahoma University shirt to get a rise out of them — mission accomplished.

We had lunch at a cute Italian deli, St Michaels bar & grille. We didn’t have to worry about cigarette smoke since Springfield banned smoking a number of years ago — somehow the restaurants managed to stay in business. Imagine that? I guess people do go to restaurants to eat and not to smoke.

Just South of the square is one of Springfield’s more tragic buildings . I’m guessing this is actually an old building that got a horrible new skin a few decades ago. Whenever it was done, they shouldn’t have.

When I was here in 2005 the parking arrangement on South Ave was different than it is now. In 2005 the left side of the street above had angeled parking but now it is basic parallel. All parking downtown is free, a mistake in my book.

At the end of a side street, not far from the square, is a large parking garage. It seems that they left their old downtown intact but chipped away at the edges. Although Springfield is the county seat I didn’t spot the courthouse or the city hall.

After we had toured downtown Springfield it was time to head back to the hospital. Yes, that is me getting into Sam’s big gas-sucking SUV. As my right side remains strong, I was able to pull myself into the vehicle along with a little push from Patty.

That evening we went to dinner here in Mt Vernon and we decided to leave the wheelchair in the vehicle — my physical therapist had given me the OK to walk out in public as long as one of my relatives “guarded” me against falling (holding onto a gait belt around my upper torso). It felt good to walk into into a restaurant rather than being wheeled in.


Continued Progress in Rehab

April 14, 2008 Steve Patterson 6 Comments

For those just tuning in, I had a stoke on Feb 1st. Following a few weeks in ICU, I began the long rehab process. I started rehab at SSM REHAB/ST. Mary’s just days after coming out of sedation. The therapists there were able to get some limited movement on the left side of my body (see video done by my friend Antonio French). While there I was still very much a medical patient — feeding tube and all. On the 21st of March I switched to Missouri Rehabilitation Center in Mt. Vernon, MO for additional care.
Here they practice tough love — if the staff knows you can do something for yourself then they will not do it for you. For example, I am expected to dress myself each day — no small feat when you only have the use of one arm/hand. The trick is having the days clothes next to the bed. Now that I can move my left leg it makes putting on pants so much easier. In the last week I have one new article to put on — a custom made AFO (ankle-foot orthosis). This brace helps me in walking by keeping my left foot from dropping and dragging as I walk.

Speaking of walking, earlier today I handed my camera to my physical therapist so he could take video of me as I walked down the hall with student intern Barry right next to me holding onto the “gait” belt they have around my upper body. At SSM I was just starting to move my leg so the therapist had to push my left leg forward for each step.
This video is just at a minute in length. I’m doing pretty well during most of it but I get tripped up a bit near the end. The voice you hear is my physical therapist Geoff who is always working hard challenging me to push myself.


Before the video was taken I had walked the short distance from my room to breakfast & lunch. I had also had a morning PT session in which they exercised my left leg to increase movement and build strength. We had also just completed another walk in the hallway where Geoff was timing me — I was just short of 1mph. By this point my muscles were a bit fatigued. After we did this walk I did a short flight of stairs (3 risers) and a couple of curbs of different heights. I’ve now walked on all sorts of surfaces including grass, wood chips, gravel and foam.

Over the last two weekends I left the facility four times for meals with a friend and one of my brothers. Transferring from a wheelchair to a vehicle and back is relatively easy now. Everything is getting easier although a lot is learning how to work around physical limitations. A good seat cushion on the wheelchair helps too!

The old saying, ‘That which does not kill you makes you stronger’ is so true. Only a strong person can endure the reality of recovering from a stroke. If you would have told me on January 31st what I would face in the following three months I would have told you I could not handle it at all. But I have found the drive to move forward and do what it takes to get my life back.
So while my full recovery will be measured in years I am pleased with my progress these last five+ weeks. Thank you to everyone for your thoughts and prayers.

Make note:  I will be a guest on KDHX again on the 28th (7pm) and I will be back at home downtown before May.   In the meantime I still have a lot more walking to do.


Going out for a bit

Yesteday I did something I hadn’t been able to do since my stroke — I went out to lunch with a friend. Getting in and out of her vehicle was easier than getting through the doors at the local Mexican joint here in Mt. Vernon, MO. Once inside it was great — good food (although I couldn’t even eat half), a menu with numerous choices and nobody taking my blood pressure or giving me medications. So being at a restaurant out in public was a great feeling — like my life is getting back to normal. I’ve had outside food a few times in the last six weeks (brought to the hospital) but most has been so-so hospital food. So far I’ve lost about 10% of my body weight.

Food aside, being among the general public was the real reward. Granted we were not in public space such as a sidewalk or park. In a town of 4K they don’t typically have bustling public spaces. A restaurant near the freeway exit had to do.

We should never underestimate the importance of space where the public gathers — be it privately owned or truly public. You never know what someone else is going through.
We went out again for dinner last night and lunch today. Perhaps the folks in this town are a bit more used to seeing people in wheelchairs but nobody batted an eye as I wheeled into the three restaurants. All three would have been a challenge for me on my own (door locations, small access areas, tall thresholds, etc). However all were happy to hold a door and with my friend pushing we did just fine. Still, being able to navigate the chair myself would have given me more dignity.


Two Month Anniversary

Yesterday marked two months since my stroke and today marks two months since my friend Marcia found me on the floor of my loft. I started rehab on Feb 25th — first at SSM/ST. Mary’s and as of March 21st at Missouri Rehab in Mt. Vernon MO. I’ve come a long way in that short amount of time. I want to clear up a few things so everyone knows how I am doing.

First. I am still in rehab and will be the entire month. When I do return to my home in St Louis I will be independent but I will still have some serious mobility limitations. I will be able to walk limited distances with the use of a cane. I will have a wheelchair as well for longer distances. While I am working hard toward a full recovery it will take months for my brain to reprogram itself to handle functions I lost. In the meantime I am learning to become right-handed and how to do daily tasks such as showering and getting dressed with the use of only one hand. I can stand for only a couple of minutes at a time so showering, for example, is done from a seated position using a hand held shower and a brush on a long handle.

The last five weeks have been among the most challenging of my life.

What keeps me going is the continued progress: the movement and strength I am getting in my left leg at the knee and hip. I have some very limited movement in my left arm and fingers.  Just when I am ready to rest the therapist will say, ” give me 10 more.”  The work is hard but the payoff is big.

Coming up I will go into the therapy kitchen with a therapist and cook lunch for myself. Friday I am getting cast for a brace that will help hold my foot in the right position as I walk.  I will be fitted for my own wheelchair soon.  I am car shopping online as I will not be able to manage the scooter in the short term. Between therapy sessions I am reading online and writing new posts here — helps pass the hours.

I hope to have some sort of event just after my return to St. Louis.  Stay tuned.