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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.


Room with A View

Well, I’m no longer in St. Louis. One of my brothers picked me up Friday morning to drive me to Missouri Rehabilitation Center located in Mt. Vernon Missouri. It took us forever to get out of St Louis due to flooding related delays along I-44.

Mt. Vernon is a small town in SW Missouri — between Springfield & Joplin — pop. 4,000 in 2000. I wasn’t sure what to expect. The highway exit is like most — truck stops and fast food. I’ve stopped at the exit before on road trips back to Oklahoma.

We headed right through the small but cute downtown which is anchored by the Lawrence county courthouse — an impressive stone structure. Mo Rehab – is located at 600 N Main — from the 5th floor we’ve got great views of the courthouse. My room has two large widow — looking NE — toward St. louis — I’ve got a nice view of a park and can enjoy the sunrise each morning.

In my time here I will get out to see the town. They are getting new sidewalks at this time —- all with ramps. This facility is very important to the town and getting patients out in the real world is very important to the rehab process. Thus, ADA sidewalks are a must.


Video in Rehab

March 20, 2008 Steve Patterson 9 Comments

A few days ago Antonio French of Pubdef paid me a visit and I asked him to bring his video Camera along. Check out the video below. The therapist helping me walk is Debbie — she works miracles. My first day I worked with Debbie and Sh’voyne — it took both of them to walk me at first.

Steve Patterson Recovering from His Stroke from PubDef on Vimeo.