"Can I overcome my left side paralysis?"
SHOCK. DEVASTATION. FEAR. DESPONDENCY.
These are just a few of the emotions my wife and I experienced when I suffered a brain hemorrhage just before Christmas of 2008.Â I was rushed to Rhode Island Hospital and transferred to the Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island in early January 2009. I had many very dark and depressing thoughts that first night in rehab.
By the end of that first week in rehab, I was deeply involved in a program of physical, occupational and speech therapy. My specialists convinced me that with hard work, I could overcome most of my deficiencies. To bolster my spirits through this process, I needed what I came to call â€œlittle victoriesâ€ each day â€“ and there were many. Dressing myself. Moving about in a walker. Holding and reading a newspaper. Each one of these little victories raised my expectations and encouraged me to work harder. Tying my shoelaces. Walking with a cane. Reading tests to help me process and retrieve information. After each victory, I would call my wife and boast of my achievements. Climbing stairs. Cutting my own food. Performing dexterity exercises with my left hand. Balancing on one foot. Even my therapists were excited about my progress. I was beginning to feel that a normal lifestyle was clearly possible. After five weeks I was ready for my final victory: Walking without a cane. My emotions had now come full circle. EXCITEMENT. RELIEF. OPTIMISM.
I was discharged in mid March 2009, and my wife and I flew to Florida for a much-deserved vacation. Just prior to leaving our house with my cane, I realized I needed one more victory. I took the cane and tossed it into the corner and left for the airport. My emotions were nowâ€¦FREEDOM. NORMALCY.
I have never used a cane since then. I play golf regularly. I body surf at the beach with my grandson. I drive my car. I perform normal household chores without complaint. And I continue to do my exercises. I am eternally grateful to the REHABILITATION HOSPITAL OF RHODE ISLAND and their talented therapists for all of these achievements.