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Life post stroke getting better



It is definitely getting better. When my stroke happened, I didn't think that I will be walking again, but I am walking now with the help of a cane and an ankle brace. working hard to get back my dorsiflexion so I could achieve my next goal which is to walk without the cane and ankle brace. In February, I thought my life as I have planned is over, I didn't know that one can recover from a stroke. I thought I would be paralyzed my whole life and won't be able to do anything anymore.


I am only 38, married and have 2 beautiful children, an 11 year old girl and a 4 year old boy. I left my children in the Philippines under the care of my mother-in-law and came here to Canada to work as a live-in caregiver in 2008. The plan was to finish the 2 years required of us caregivers to be able to qualify to apply for a permanent residency and be able to sponsor my family to join me here eventually. So I said to myself when i came here, its just 2 years of sacrifice, its for the future of my children. Life here is way better than in the Philippines.Then the stroke happened in February 2010, you could say my world crashed. I am now dependent upon my mother and my sisters for the caring of myself. I stayed in Toronto Western Hospital for 9 days. Considering that I was young and I believe, I am healthy and fit, I didn't know what caused my stroke. Only after numerous CAT scans and MRIs can the doctors tell me what caused my stroke, I have a rare condition, its called moya moya disease where arteries in the brain were shrinking thus obstructing the flow of blood to the brain. Ok, so what do I do now, will I be like this for the rest of my life. They started my physio therapy then in the hospital, more of an assessment if I'll qualify to go to a rehab hospital. Maybe I did pass the assessment because before I knew what was happenning, they were transporting me to Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.My first week there, I was crying a lot because my mother and my sisters were not allowed to help me, I have to do things practically on my own, which was frustrating to say the least and mealtimes were taken in a patients' lounge where we have to have our meals with other in patients.Again I was crying because all I see there were older people. I'm like I don't belong here. It was so depressing the first weeks, also I don't have my mother or my sisters there to help me. The nurses explained that the reason I was there was to regain most of my functions so basically, I'm on my own. The team assigned to me were really very good. My occupational, physio and speech therapists, my social worker and the nurses were all so good. The first thing my therapists did was assess me if I'm mobile at all then gave me a wheelchair I can use to cruise around the stroke unit. I was just happy then to be able to move around albeit in a wheelchair. My goals then were a)to be able to walk b)be able to go up and down stairs c) to be able to talk again. I stayed in the rehab for 2 months, I went for follow up MRIs, then was told by my neurologist that I need to undergo an EC-IC bypass surgery to give my brain a new source of blood supply to prevent another stroke. I had my surgery April 20th.

My employers came to visit lots of times, they were a source of strength.They promised me that they are keeping my post open until I feel I'm ready to go back working.What they did was, the dad resigned from his work, well he was working part time already while I was still working for them. He told me he has now the perfect excuse to totally leave his job, so he took the reins of taking care of their kids.After 2 weeks of physio therapy, I was able to walk with an indoor walker first, then on to an outdoor rollator. I was then able to go home weekends, which is a great break for me, I could eat the foods I missed, Filipino dishes when I am home. I came home only after a home visit by my OT and PT. to see if our apatment was safe for me,well it is, because my mother made sure to get all rugs out of the way and moved one of the small couches into my room so I have somewhere to sit on while getting dressed.

So I'm now almost 7 months post stroke. I was discharged from the rehab on April 15th then underwent the surgery on the 20th. After that I had a slow down in my work outs.

I was scheduled to go back to the rehab on June 15th for my out patient therapies. I have a new team for my out patient therapies, but they are all so good also like my first team.

After surgery, I researched on stroke suport groups on the internet. I surfed some of the websites given to me by rehab personnel. Then books on recovery stories keep popping out.Also books on how to recover. I started reading some of them. i'm more knowledgeable now than when I was in rehab. I know that the only way to get better is hard work and determination. I have the determination. I want to recover because of my children.

I went to my employers house on August 5th, It was the oldest girl's birthday. They saw I have improved a lot, so they made a decision to slowly ease me back to work. as Michael said, I'm not an invalid, only slow in my movements.So we agreed that I go work for them for 2 days a week, the days that I'm not in therapy, that would be Mondays and Thursdays for 5 hours a day then build up from there.

I went to work on August 9th, the only thing I did was to watch over Maeve, the oldest girl, because she wasn't on camp that week, and Michael had to get the youngest girl, Kiera to her speech therapy. He even offerred to pick me up and drop me off, but I was ok because I had wheeltrans.

It went well the first day, then I went back Thursday. Everything was going so well, Before the stroke I was doing household works on top of taking care of the 2 girls. But they don't expect me to do those things now, but I do only what I can like unloading the dishwasher, by using my good hand. I manage well, no falls or almost falls.

The most important thing is I get paid for those 10 hours. Its a start.

Well, I've finished just 1 year of the 2 years I'm required to finish to be able to apply for permanent residency. Good thing was Policies have changed, The government of Canada gave us caregivers 4 years to finish the 2 years from the time we arrived unlike before it was only within 3 years. It doesn't have to be continuous too. Just complete the 2 years in 4 years then I'll qualify. With the break in my employment of almost 7 months, this is good news. My plans are still achievable. It will only take longer. Thats ok.

I'm planning of going for a vacation March next year to go see my family especially my childen, they are the reason why I'm fighting like hell to recover.

Sorry all If I've bored you with my life story,it's just I'm so happy that I'm getting right back on track.

Next week will be a challenge with school starting for the girls. But my employer was reassuring me that he'll be around to help me the first few weeks.

They are really kind people.He'll be working at home developing websites, very convenient for me, if I needed help, he's not far away.

Hopefully, I'll be stronger and be able to manage to walk the girls to and from school.

I am staying positive in all this, I know I'll be better. What I'll do is to bring some of my hand therapies there so if I have a few hours free time, I still can work on my therapy.



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thanks for sharing your whole story with us. I feel now I know you much better. you have few very good things going for you, so I know for your sure you will come out of this stroke ordeal stronger and better. you have good inspirations like your children to work hard on your recovery such that finally you all can reunite back in canada. Also you have kind & good employer who is willing to give concessions which is very good thing. I too stroked at age 34 in 2004 which left me paralysed on my left side. Though I worked hard to get out of that wheelchair. for me my motivation was then my 7 year old son. like you I was blessed to have great family support though I decided to medically retire from my job to raise my son well. Today after 6 years I can look back & see my stroke as just bump in my life's journey. I am more happy to be home for my son.


Asha(now 40 year old survivor)

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Thanks Asha, yeah, my children are my inspiration to get better. If not for them I'd still be in a wheelchair. You have got to have the positive determination to recover. I miss them badly, I'll see them soon. I'm getting ready for the reunion in March. Thats one of the reasons i agreed to go back to work, now I'm saving up on that trip. It will get better.


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