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an entry i will never forget



I straightened out my thumb. Amazed, I began to try to straighten my fingers. One by one I heard my brain tell each finger to straighten. I held my breath as I strained to straighten them out one by one then altogether. I put my hands together and made a joyful noise. I clapped my hands to give thanks for this miracle I'd only seen in my dreams. It felt so real. I thought to myself wow all the exercise I did earlier today finally paid off, physically therapy has given me my life back!

Now this is only a memory. A memory that popped into my head yesterday. It was all a dream. It never happened. When I first began having these dreams about 3 years post-stroke, they were great. I remember dreaming about me running and doing things pre-stroke. Back then the dreams were motivations, reminders that there is still hope. Now the dreams are just disappointments. Just a memory in time that will forever stay stuck in a dream. A cruel reminder of the harsh realities that I face everyday each time I try to move my fingers just like in the dreams but nothing happens.

It seems so absurd how I can do a million and one things with my right hand, but my left hand is useless. Its as if its not even a part of my body. I exercise it, straighten it, wear my brace all day but nothing. Its a lost cause.

I go to physical therapy twice a week. I have been optimistic. I really am trying. I go into the gym with an open mind and closed mouth. (I am not allowed to complain.) I get through every exercise in the duration of the 60 minutes of torture as I call it. Yet, when I leave I do not feel like my balance has improved, my leg doesn't feel stronger. I feel tired, worn, sore. Somehow I find the strength to walk to the rest of my classes, get dinner at the dining hall, and back across the street to my apartment. I get back to my room to find a yellowish red stain on the back of my sock. My brace has been sticking in the back of my leg all day each time I step down and put a gash in my leg. The burn of the first aid spray brings tears to my eyes but I take the pain and bandage the back of my leg. I spend the weekend not enjoying the fun in the sun, or seeing the premiere of the newest movie in town, but sitting in my room. I am too tired to walk around the mall, my leg hurt too bad to go to the beach, my allergies stop me from going to the park, and my rude awakening of reality has made it difficult for me to enjoy a movie created by hollywood. So I sit in my room waiting on my dream to come true...


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If at all possible, try to see if you can get your PT to get a brace for your hand to sleep in at night. I use one and have been since my stroke. And if they can get or order that putty for you to use at home too. It comes in different strengths and colors too. You can stick Penny's of into it, then try to get them all out with your fingers.


Pretty soon you can pick up a coffee cup (empty) with that hand. Later put water in it. I sent some to Gary, he likes it. It's 2oz Therapy putty made by Sammons Preston in little color tubs

The website is: http://www.sammonspreston.com they will send you a catalog of all their products free.

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Katrina, track your progress, it may not seem much but the opposite it not to stand still, it is to go backwards.


With each one of the five strokes Ray went back to the beginning, started exercising all over again, fighting to regain what he had lost. It is hard, I know as I was his driver and his home therapist, repeating each day the new exercises he got each week.


Imagine being always the way you were when you first stroked, bedridden and paralysed, no-one wants to be back there. So please enjoy the progress you have made and find something to rejoice about in each new day.


Never give up on your exercise, exercise does work, it does make your muscles stronger. I know you wish for a miracle but instead have to accept the inch by inch progress of every day life. It is hard, disappointing, frustrating but it is your life, so live it to the full.


(((Hugs))) from Sue.

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One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from my docto r(who sadly moved away). He told me that I would need to accept a new "normal." It took me a while to process this because I wanted things to be exactly the way they were before. Once I realized I wasn't like everyone else to begin with, I was much happier with myself. Katrina, you are so smart and have so much to offer. Don't be so hard on yourself. :D

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