Mike Delling thinks that he is a very lucky man. He thinks this despite that he has Cerebral Palsy (CP), a severe spinal curvature and serious gait problems that limit his mobility, AND having had a stroke. So, maybe a little explanation is in order.
Mike was born with Cerebral Palsy. He lived with his family in Davison, Michigan, until twelve years of age, at which time the Delling family moved to Hollywood, Florida. While living there, Mike discovered his love of swimming, working out in the family’s pool three times a week. Even though Mike was growing up dealing with the many challenges that Cerebral Palsy can bring, swimming helped him to thrive and live his life as fully as possible.
When Mike’s family eventually returned to Michigan, he made it a point to swim regularly. He continued his three-times-a-week routine in the public pool at the University of Michigan, in Flint. He knew that swimming not only provided him with necessary exercise, but that it enhanced his overall quality of life. However, he didn’t know it at the time, but it was also preparing him for events that were to come.
On May 31, 2002, Mike had just returned to his apartment from a swimming session at the University when he experienced a stroke on the left side of his brain. He was immediately rushed to an acute care hospital for treatment. Once he was stable enough to leave, Mike was relocated to a special apartment building for people with different kinds of disabilities. He had been using a wheelchair to get around all his life, so his new apartment complex was perfect for accommodating his special needs.
In 2004, Mike fell while in the shower so, once again, he had to be transferred to a different living setup. From there, Mike subsequently moved to Lapeer County (Michigan) Medical Care Community (also known as “Suncrest”) which has long-term care and skilled nursing as part of its many programs. He currently lives there, working very hard on winning the “war” that he says he has to fight every day. Here’s just a sample of his weekly exercise routine:
15 minutes on a Nu-Step bike (two days per week)
5 minutes, each, on a shoulder wheel and spring board (three days per week)
15 minutes on a stand-up lift (three days per week)
15 minutes of various hand exercises (six days per week)
Arm exercises using an exercise band and hand exercises using a rubber ball (several days a week)
Working on a Mini-cycle and weight training using 8-pound weights to work his right side (several days a week)
Which brings us back to Mike’s assertion that he’s very lucky. For one thing, he counts his blessings that he has few stroke residuals. (Mike didn’t escape completely unscathed, as he was left with minor right-side impairment and some vision problems, but he’s convinced that he didn’t have more damage because he was in relatively good condition from his swimming routine.) For another thing, Mike feels fortunate to be a resident in such a nice facility as Suncrest, where he has access to a wide variety of activities as well as competent, caring staff.
But, most importantly, Mike feels extremely lucky that he was able to swim and that it made such a dramatic difference in his mental and physical condition. He recommends swimming not only as a way to stay fit, but as a way to improve your general well-being.
Unfortunately, Mike is unable to swim at this time, but he looks forward to the day when he can resume the activity that has played such an important part in his life. And, he wants other stroke survivors to know that they should keep on trying to improve, no matter how hard it seems at the time. As Mike puts it, “Do not give up the hard battle”.
Mike can be reached via the Stroke Network. His user id is mikedlgk.