Jann Strawser.jpg


Whenever I had something that I had to accomplish I would say to myself "there's nothing to do but to do it." This phrase is the main point of my stroke story,

and is has been the driving force of my life. Also I felt that if I didn't keep going and accomplishing, that physical therapy would drop me as a client, and I would have no more backing to say that I have met my goals.


When I was 10, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor which resulted in my left side

being partly paralyzed. Despite my diagnosis, I attended several colleges and had a few jobs. My most important job was as emergency lodge aide for the Salvation Army, where I did practically everything from counseling to cooking.


When I was 65 I had my stroke. Then I was partly paralized on the right also, and I had spastic dysarthria and nasality.  This voice trouble was my biggest problem because it was something I had not dealt with before and initially made it hard to be understood on the phone.  With a lot of work I have overcome enough of my speaking problem to be understandable in all situations.


But since there is nothing to do but to do it, I keep making headway.  I am now standing for nine minutes and when I get to 10 minutes I will be able to do other exercises. This standing is my biggest accomplishment to date.


My sister has been my biggest help since my stroke. She has arranged appointments, got groceries for me, and subbed for my aides. She did a lot of things because I couldn't get out and my aides' schedule made it tough to get anything done. But my aides were a big help also. Although I do as much as I can, they do what I can't do.


I'm not very good at making friends so I don't have many.  Most of my friends are my sister's friends.  I occasionally see my neice and nephew and their families. I planted indoor plants with an Aerogarden for many years before my stroke, and now i am adding vegetables to the flowers I used to do.  I have started to pursue different interests. I watch birds and hope to get a shelf built to store the rocks that I will study and enjoy. I like to learn things on the computer. Now I am studying to learn the Dragonspeak program better.  I also make my own cards on Hallmark Card Studio.


I would have never taken up birdwatching or thought of rock collecting had it not been for this stroke.  Since this stroke I have taken up speech exercise and core exercise and stretching.  I add this to the exercise plan that I had previously accomplished.


I should network with other stroke survivors, but I don't because it is too hard right now.  When I get better at Dragonspeak, hopefully I will be able to do so.


I have two AFOS, adding the second one on my right side because of the stroke. I have used a motorized wheelchair for about ten years.  When I am cleared I hope to be able to use a shower chair again.   This Dragonspeak program is really helpful because I can't type or write well. I use a transfer pole in the bathroom and bedroom, and that helps me be as independant as possible with transfers.  I can't walk and have trouble writing, and minor problems with speaking and swallowing.  I had the trouble with walking and balance before my stroke.  When I first had the stroke my trouble with fatigue was terrible, and magnified all the other problems i had.  I tried different things to get my strength back.  I am stronger and less tired now, and am now cleared to resume therapy with the goal of being able to safely use a shower chair.


I was married for 22 years, divorcing in 2015. We had a pet chihuahua.  I don't have any pets now.  When my husband and I seperated, it was a huge challenge in 2013  to move from where I had lived all my life in New York State to live in Connecticut near my sister.  


I had my stroke in October 2015 it was ischemic – I had it when I was sleeping so I can't tell you exactly when it was.  When I woke up I knew I must have had a stroke because I knew I wasn't speaking right. I wasn't scared but I was a little embarassed.   I was in an acute care hospital at Yale New Haven for three days and then transferred to the Willows rehab for a month. Then I had home therapy for about a year.  I still do my home program of physical and speech therapy almost daily and will do so forever.


The stroke changed me by making me not as confident in myself as I was.  I had always relied on my speech and my right side to compensate for my left sided hemiparesis.  Now these were no longer strengths.  All I could rely on was my thinking and problem solving, which thankfully were still good.    


My advice to other stroke survivors is to do your home exercises and stretches every day and take your aspirin regimen.  Keep your mind active.  Look up stuff on the computer.  Go on day trips whenever you can.  It's important to have as much fun as possible.  I like sitting outside on my patio when it is nice out.  There's a free movie and audiobook program called Hoopla that is sponsered by my local library.  It is on my computer so it is accessible. 


My stroke has made everything I have to deal with tougher.  I sink a lot but I am resolved to not go down with the ship!

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