Well, I was at the doctor again yesterday for a follow up from both strokes. I asked him to lay everything out on the table and really tell me how I was doing. Here goes.
1) The second stroke is something that I will probably have to deal with from time to time. He saw this with my grandmother too (Dr. Mike has been our family doctor since 1996). I seem to be following the same course she did, though for different reasons. We can work on minimizing the impact of the strokes, but they will continue to happen from time to time.
Well, I figured that out in the hospital, 4 months ago, so that didn't exactly come as a surprise.
2) Looking at the report from the neuro-opthomologist, though it is rare for only 1 eye to be affected by a stroke, that is what has happened. There is very clear damage to the right optical nerve, from the stroke. It has probably permanently changed my depth perception and right peripheral vision, but keep my followup appointment with him in May. There may be something he can recommend to help deal with the change in vision - which might also aggrivate the hesdaches I get now.
3) Speaking of the headaches, they are not all migraines. SOme of the m are just headaches, which sometimes happens as the brain is healing, the swelling is going down, and new connections are being made to compensate for the areas that don't work any more.
Also things that I could surmize, so ok, I can deal with that.
4) As for the most recent stroke, just keep doing what I'm doing. The stroke was very mild and I might not have noticed anything, had I not been in the middle of recovering from the one in December. Use a straw to drink, again, and over time, the swallowing issue will probably correct itself. The aphasia, well, we already knew that was going to continue to be a challenge. Just keep working at it. If I feel like I need speach therapy, let him know.
5) My gate is MUCH improved from the visit last month. What have I been doing to help that?
Meet Monster (he stayed in the waiting room with Sam until I asked him to come back. I thought having the dog in the small exam room might be too many people in too small a space) I had Sam bring him in and we talked, at length, about how he has helped me in just the last month, and what his future help plans are. Dr. Mike loved the idea of a service dog, for lots of reasons and said we had probably made the biggest difference in my recovery by bringing him into the family.
6) My balance is getting much better and I am not so easy to knock over any more. I will probably always have issues, so working with Monster is great. SInce he has helped me improve my gate, start walking with him and just a cane for a few hours every week, for the next month, and we will see how we are doing next month at my next visit.
7)Working with Monster has really helped improve my stamina, which is great. I've also managed to lose a few pounds. I told Dr. Mike that I had set a goal of being able to jog the trails at the park with him in 2 years time. He said that was a good goal, and a good time frame so that I am working toward something, but not pushing myself too hard. Get a good pair of cross-trainer sneakers and get to work on that, conservatively. Dr, Mike knows that when I get the itch to do something under my skin, I attack it like a pit bull. That will help with the gate, the balance, the stamina AND the weight loss. (to the dog) Thank you, Monster, for being such a good motivator to your teammate! (Dr, Mike gave Monster a good petting)
8)OK Lydia, let's talk about driving. (Oh crap, here it comes!) I want you to find a school parking lot or some other lot that has lines for parking spaces on it and I want you to practive driving into parking spaces, making right turns, backing into parking spaces, things like that. I'm also going to let you drive in traffic, not on the freeway, and only as far as 5 miles 1 way from your home right now. Drive with Sam or one of teh kids in the car. We'll look at how well you're doing withthis on your next visit. (OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!! I get to start driving again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ok, it's not a free pass to drive myself anywhere I want to go, but I get to drive again!)
9) Now, all of this progress is great, but I don't want you to overdo it. You're up to 30 hours a week at the office. Can the 2 of you manage financially if you stay at that level? (Sam and I agreed that we can for now.) Good. I'm going to keep you at that level for a little while longer because I want you to have as full a recovery as you can. Are you still looking at medical retirement? (We said we were) OK, that's fine. I'll fill out all the paperwork I need to when that time comes. You are going to have other strokes, in the future, so taking a little more stress out of life can only help you.
"All in all, Lydia, your progress is really good this last month and I'm really happy to see it. Keep wporking with that dog of yours and really thank whoever it was that encouraged you to get him. They made a BIG difference in your recovery. Don't go too crazy with the driving. I'll see you in another 4 weeks and I think you'll be surprised with how well you are doing then."
I don't think my feet touched the ground as I walked out his office yesterday afternoon!!!!!!!!!!!! We stopped off at our favorite ice cream place to celebrate. They are a family owned shop that is pet friendly even gives "puppy cups" of fat free vanilla soft serve ice cream to dogs and the occasional cat. Monster loves going there with us.
April 26 was officially my 4-month post-stroke anniversary. I'm doing really well, according to my doctors and Sam. I'm doing ok!