Sunday, February 14, 2021

Every Little Bit Helps



The following is from the discontinued StrokeNet Newsletter site.
Jim Sinclair was a part of the Newsletter staff at that time. I have permission from Lin Wisman, then editor of the newsletter, to repost these wonderful articles on this blog. 

The contents of this blog article do not constitute advice and should not be relied upon in making or refraining from making, any decision. All material contained in this article is provided without any or warranty of any kind. You use the material in this article at your own discretion. Please consult your doctor before making any decisions based on the content of this article.
Dancing with Stroke
By Jim Sinclair

Every Little Bit Helps

Last September during a presentation that I made to third year medical students one of the students asked if I could think of something a doctor had done that had a dramatic positive effect on my recovery or something that I wish they had not done as it was detrimental to my recovery. Having never previously given any thought to that I was hard pressed to immediately think of some examples.

My simple response at that time was that by far the most important positive action taken by any medical professional was the repetitive reassurances that a full recovery was possible made by my first neurologist during the first month following my strokes. I emphasized that having Dr Bill Martin ,from the very beginning, instill within me a confident belief that a full recovery was possible provided the motivation needed to allow me to do what needed to be done.

Having now had some time to contemplate that question I have come to realize that my response at that time was much too simplistic. I realized the young lady had asked the question in hopes of gaining a tool which she could use at some point in her career.

A far better response at the time would have been to take advantage of the opportunity to impress upon this group of students that recovery is not the result of one or two single actions and no one magic bullet; it is the cumulative result of a great many very small actions over a lengthy period of time with any single action not necessarily being of greater importance than any other single action. Since recovery following stroke is a process of small steps taken slowly, each and every action that contributes to a step forward is as important as each and every other action. Every little bit is significant.

At that time the only negative that came to mind occurred five years post stroke. I consulted with a neurologist because of some confusion and disorientation that I would occasionally experience. He suggested that what might work was to take respiridone, an antipsychotic medication that was at times effective for other off label uses. I agreed to try this medication.

Unfortunately at about that same time my antidepressant stopped being effective as did my sleep assist medication to which I had become addicted. Adding respiridone at this point only made me feel worse. I did however, caution the students that this had no long term detrimental effect on my recovery and was only a small bump in the road to recovery; and that they should never hesitate in being creative with what they believe might be of value in our recovery.

While I would like to think that my very successful recovery has been primarily the result of my own hard work supported by the assistance of many peers, I am fully aware that these were secondary to the ability of a great many health care professionals to each do their small part in providing what was necessary to have my progress inch forward slowly.

It was the aggregate of actions that was significant with each and every act contributing in their own way to my journey of recovery. I feel that the act of a Health Care Assistant rolling me over during the night when I was unable to do so was as necessary to my recovery as was the act of my neurologist and my cardiologist meeting together to determine that my strokes were enabled by a hole in my heart(a PFO).

Since every journey of recovery of every stroke survivor is as unique to each survivor as is their own personal makeup and their particular stroke circumstances the relative importance of the specific actions of health care professionals will vary greatly from survivor to survivor. I firmly believe that the goal of recovery is to attain a quality of life which is meaningful and satisfying for each survivor in whatever terms defined by each survivor.

I believe that everything we encounter along our journey of recovery is a contributing factor in that recovery. It is often difficult for us to understand how certain negative experiences can contribute to our recovery. We must remain confident that even every adversity has its purpose and maintain our faith that all we encounter helps us move towards that meaningful quality of life we seek. Every little bit helps.

Copyright ©February 2015
The Stroke Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 492 Abingdon, Maryland 21009
All rights reserved.

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