I thought it was about time that I gave everyone an update on how my recovery is going since the stroke. It’s now been four months since the stroke, and although I’m still experiencing significant issues, I’m definitely doing much better than I could have hoped just a few weeks ago.
I no longer use the walking stick at all inside the house, but still rely on it when venturing outdoors – not that we are able to do that much at the moment. Even with the stick I can only manage very limited distances have to use the wheelchair for anything further -with the stick I could manage to get to the corner of my street – perhaps 100 yards or so. I had intended to attempt to walk to the corner while using the stick, and to do that daily and try to get a little bit further every day, in order to build up my strength and stamina, but the recent icy weather put paid to that notion until today.
=Just back from some walking practice and I did better than I thought, and was able to get down the stairs by myself – I only needed Peter’s help to hold the walking stick while I held onto the handrail. Then I managed to walk to the corner and back holding the walking stick in my hand, without actually using it, although I could feel my left leg getting very tired so that was as far as seemed prudent to push things for the time being. Next time I’ll try to get a few metres further. Then going up the close stairs, from the first floor landing I held the walking stick in my left hand. So I am getting very close to the point of being able to get up and down stairs without needing assistance. That’s a huge improvement.
Mentally I feel I’m doing a lot better. I’m not as forgetful as I was and friends I chat with regularly on the phone say that I am no longer repeating myself, no longer repeating myself, Which I was doing a lot in the weeks after being released from hospital.
In other little victories – I can now manage to flick the light switch and flush the toilet using my left hand, or at least I can nine times out of ten – that’s a massive improvement, just a couple of weeks ago it was no times out of ten. My left leg and hand and arm are still very weak. It’s only within the past few days that I’ve had enough strength in my fingers to flick a light switch, so things are definitely going in the right direction. It’s important to keep working on it. I also have to keep doing stretching exercises as in the weeks and months after a stroke the tendons tend to shrink due to a lack of normal muscle use. It makes me a bit stiff and sore, but it’s important to persevere with the exercises even though they can be uncomfortable. I’m taking some CBD paste, with a bit of chocolate to disguise the taste, at bedtime, and that’s definitely helping me get a decent night’s sleep.
I have even started to try and involve my left hand in typing, It’s slow and laborious, the movement in my left hand is pretty gross and uncoordinated. However the important thing is that there is useful movement. The goal over the next weeks and months will be to refine it, work on fine motor control and to build up strength and stamina.
I don’t really like to focus on the negative but one of the biggest problems with using my left hand is that I have very little feeling in it. So when attempting to pick something up I can’t actually feel if I have a grasp of it or not. Apparently movement recovers before sensation, so feeling might well return to my fingers and hand. One tip suggested by the physiotherapist was to use something with a coarse texture to help reawaken the nerves, so I’ve been rubbing my fingertips with a nail brush. When I do that I am aware of a tickling sensation in the palm of my hand, so something is definitely happening, even though the nerve signals are still a bit messed up.
Another serious issue is fatigue. I’m told that for a large number of stroke survivors this is one of the most debilitating symptoms they face. That’s certainly my experience too. I find I have very limited energy and need to pace myself. As far as the blog is concerned that means that I don’t have the strength and energy to keep on top of comments moderation – so I am pleading with you all to please refrain from name-calling and insulting one another, and above all, ask yourself before commenting how your words will be seen by someone who is yet to be convinced of the case for independence. If what you’re about to post won’t help to persuade them that Scotland must become independent – then perhaps think twice about commenting at all. Thank you all for your co-operation. Someone suggested taking maca root capsules (sometimes called Peruvian ginseng) for the fatigue I’ve started doing that but it’s too early to say whether it’s having an effect. However I am told that the fatigue will eventually resolve itself.
Overall I’m feeling pretty positive. It helps to focus on what you can do rather on what you can’t, and to keep pushing at the limits of your abilities – although that’s not always an easy balance to strike. But that’s the road to recovery. It’s not going to happen by magic, and it’s certainly not going to happen if I sit about moping and feeling sorry for myself. There’s still a long road to travel, but considering it’s only four months since the stroke, I’m now in a far better place than I could possibly have hoped for just a few months ago when I was lying semi-paralysed in a hospital bed, not knowing if I’d ever be able to walk or work again.
There’s so much to look forward to. We have a provisional moving date of 29 January, and then Peter and I start a whole new chapter of our lives in South Ayrshire. And of course we have crucial elections and the prospect of an increasingly self-confident Scotland that is moving towards independence. I am determined to focus on my recovery so I can play as full a role as possible in helping to make that happen – and getting strong enough so that I can get another dug. No dug can ever replace Ginger of course, but life is always better with a dog in it.
Once again I’d like to thank all the regular readers of the blog and The National column for all your love and support. You got me through some very bleak and dark days and out the other side. You’re all amazing. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.