Dennis Martin


I was 56 years old when I had my stroke. I was an engineer, part owner and one of the founders of a small engineering consulting company.


I stroked on May 21, 2001. It was a Saturday. I worked very hard all morning building a raised bed garden at our home, and riding my bike down a long hill into our local town center, then a long hard ride back up. Near the end of the ride I was getting a bad headache and a little dizzy. I got home, showered, took headache med then left with my wife to visit some friends. On the way there I was getting a little disoriented. I normally could just drive in autopilot to familiar places. That day I had to think through every turn. The wives were doing boring stuff. So we guys decided to go to the local Home Depot & look around. While walking through the store I had trouble concentrating.


I was getting a little wobbly on my feet. I told my friend I had to go. I had him drive me in my car back to his house. I went home to bed. My wife came to bed a little later and found me lying funny with my right arm hanging out of the bed. I still believed that I would be better any day, big time denial. I remember doctors saying it might be as much as a year until I was fully recovered. Maybe they were trying to keep me from getting despondent if I knew then it would be many years. I was moved to another hospital in town where there was a floor devoted to rehab, mostly stroke survivors.


My insurance covering hospital in-patient time was becoming depleted. It was decided to move me to a nursing home near our house where I could still get PT, OT & speech therapy. To preserve my in patient benefit, I was to go back to the hospital as an in patient after 2 months for 2 more weeks to "finish off " my therapy with more qualified therapists working directly with my rehab doc. They had me walking after two weeks in the nursing home, soon with a cane, what excitement! I had an almost continuous stream of visitors of family & friends. What a blessing and support. I was still not making any progress with my left arm. I was briefly blind in my left eye while in the emergency department, but my speech was never severely affected. I was given numerous mental cognition exercises and tests; they concluded that my reasoning capability was, surprisingly, to them, at pre- stroke levels. This was very reassuring to me, meaning I could still work as an engineer.


I was finally released from the hospital and returned to part time work out of my home office. Capability was, surprising to them, at pre- stroke levels. It was very reassuring to me that I could still work as an engineer. I decided at the recommendation of my doctors to begin to go onto disabled status and begin to receive disability payments (60% of my pre--stroke pay) from our disability benefit coverage at work.


I was finally released from the hospital and returned to part time work out of my home office. I was not able to work full time. So, I did not qualify, according to the insurance company, for the medical & other aspects of our benefits plan. With the agreement of my company co-owners, I retired from the company. My co-owners began buying back my share of the company. I formed my own small consulting company to run out of my home. So I could keep all of the hourly billing to my clients & not have any of it go to an overhead pool for benefits I was not receiving.


I still could not afford medical insurance on my own. So we decided for many reasons to sell our waterfront dream home and move into a less expensive home suited to sharing with our son & his family. Then we could share expenses and I could watch our granddaughter grow up. I had worked day & night on our home to rebuild it and make three additions. Unfortunately, there were many things not yet completed when I stroked.


About a year into my recovery I began having seizures that are related to the dead parts of my brain not being able to carry electrical signals through the brain. The signals get diverted and cause havoc. My last seizure was about 4 1/2 months ago. I'm now on a very good seizure med. The state says I cannot drive until I'm 6 months seizure free. I so badly want to drive again.


I feel bad that I can't do any of the yard work. My wife has been cutting down trees. We hire people to do things that I used to do without a second thought. But, we are blessed beyond measure.


June 2004

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