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Stroke Patient from Iowa

Susie Windsor

Susie Windsor:
I live in Iowa and have suffered a stroke. I am willing to share my story and experience dealing with stroke. Had no one to help me through this time and did it all by myself.

On December 20, 1999 my co-workers took me to the ER because I was so sick and I discovered I had bronchial pneumonia. I went home with a medication, took it, and went to bed. Got up early on the 21st because a friend was bringing some 7-Up for me. I went back to sleep on the couch and woke up around noon or a little after.

I discovered that I could not walk. I crawled on all fours to the phone and called for an ambulance. It took two paramedics to help me onto the gurney. We got to the local hospital and I was diagnosed right away. They did a CAT scan but couldn't find anything. I was sent by ambulance to Mercy Hospital in Cedar Rapids. They finally got me checked in after 5 p.m. that day and then a physical therapist came up to see how I was doing and I was doing fine because we were tossing a ball around and my coordination was fine. On the 23rd they were going to be doing a few more tests on me and I had another stroke because my blood pressure bottomed out on me while they were doing the test. It took out my right side.

I had to learn how to walk, talk and regain use of my right arm and hand. I was in the hospital for 17 days. My neurologist challenged me. He said if I could do everything in the way of physical therapy and occupational therapy he would let me out a week ahead of schedule. Took him up on that. I started using my left hand for writing so that I could pick out my meals. They gave me some scrubs to wear until my friends could bring me clothes. I surprised the occupational therapist because I got dressed in five minutes, which included the tet hose. I figured out how to put a bra on with one hand and got all my other clothes on with just one hand.

The first day I was up I walked about halfway around the floor I was on. The second day we did steps, since I had to go up and down steps to my apartment. They were surprised I did so well. The third day I was up they timed me when I was walking. They wanted to find out how long it took me to walk 400 feet. I made it in five minutes. The physical therapist said it usually took people 30 minutes to do the walk.

If I wanted to go home and to live on my own again I had to do what was necessary to make it possible. I got out of the hospital on January 7, 2000. My friends helped me get groceries, pick up mail and get my meds. I was using a cane to help me walk. Whenever my friends could take me to my doctor's appt in C.R. it helped and they helped me with grocery shopping. Most of the time they couldn't help me so I started driving myself to the store and then back home. The baggers in the store helped me get the groceries into the car when they saw the cane. When I got home I unloaded the groceries, went up and down the stairs to the vehicle, put the groceries away. A physical and occupational therapist came to my apartment to help with therapy. The physical therapist couldn't believe how advanced I had become. The occupational therapist was pleased with the progress I made because I could finally tie my shoes.

My husband at the time came home after being on the road and he was watching how I was doing with the occupational therapy. It scared him. My landlord put a bar in the bathtub for me and gave me a stool to sit on after I got out of the tub/shower.

I have 50% feeling on the right side and the balance and coordination are still not what they should be. I can't use the right hand for detail work but I have been doing some cross-stitching to help with that. When I get tired is when I notice that I have more problems. My speech gets a little slurred and my right side becomes weak. Since I moved to Decorah in 2000 I have been out dancing three times a week. Had a total hip replacement because the stroke did damage to the hip when I learned how to re-walk. Doing great.

The bad part of my recovery is that in May 2000 my husband was killed in a one-vehicle rollover accident while I was still recovering from the stroke. That made a little bit of a setback but somehow I made it through and survived and have become stronger. When my friends up here in Decorah learned about me having a stroke they couldn't believe it. I wanted a normal life again so I did what I had to do to get it and I always will. I'm on disability for the stroke but I'm in the process of looking for a job since I came home from CA. I drive all over the place taking a day trip or weekend trips, go out and have fun doing some of the things I used. I've got a normal life again with some minor restrictions.

I hope this will help some of your patients learn that they don't have to settle for wheelchairs or anything else. Life is great and I wouldn't miss it for the world. I was 48 when I had the stroke and there was no way I was giving up. It's not in me.

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