Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Stroke Recovery: Walking Outside

I have done it - I am walking outside. Only slowly, and not far, but I go every day, and as my legs get stronger, I go further. Apart from the distance, something people may not realise is that it is dangerous. What you take for granted, for me, after walking on carpet, the ground outside is very uneven. My toe catches on the slightest thing, even indoors, and I am liable to lose my balance.

Anyway, I am doing it. I have got up enough confidence, and my balance and walking have improved to the point that I decided to give it a go. I live on a street of terraced houses, so decided to count gates to measure the distance, but Michael paced it out and we think one gate is about five yards (or metres). In addition I walk from the living room to the front door and down the path to the street, which is another five yards out and five yards back again.

The first day I had no idea how far I could go, so Michael walked behind me with the wheelchair. I walked six gates before I got tired and sat down. Michael wheeled me back again and I walked into the house. Total distance about 40 yards. The second day I walked three gates out, turned round and walked three back, and into the house. Total distance 40 yards without a sit down in the middle. Not only does it make my legs ache, my arm aches from leaning on my stick. Goal - not to lean so heavily or so long.

Then I did four gates on two days, and today I did five. Distance today 60 yards. When I was in hospital learning to walk, Michael used to joke with the physiotherapists that he was going to put my name down for the Swansea 10k race (which is next Sunday as it happens). Well, by next year I might surprise him!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Stroke Recovery: Three Firsts

Had a great two days, Thursday and Friday. On Thursday I decided it was time to start walking outside. I wasn't sure how far I could walk, so I went as far as I could and Michael came behind with the wheelchair to take me back. I counted gates, since I live on street of terraced houses, and I walked 6 gates. This is in addition to walking out of the house and back in again afterwards.

On Friday, instead of having my normal strip wash, I had my first shower! Our shower is over the bath, but Michael found the bath seat, and helped me swing my legs over the side of the bath. It was so wonderful to be under the running water.

Then on Friday night it was my daughter Aggi's birthday gig, held in a place upstairs with no disabled access. I not only walked in, I climbed one long flight and two short flights all in one go. After sitting for two hours, I then walked down again in one go too. It was a lovely evening, made all the more special for me because I was able to be there.

So, I am more and more mobile. It won't be long before I can walk outside on my own - I am determined. I also have a goal to give up my quad stick and only need an ordinary stick. Watch me go!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Stroke Recovery: Exercise Therapy At Last

I finally got to start my exercise therapy, but I had to go via the doctor first. It was quite funny actually, as the doctor checked me out thoroughly and said she could find nothing wrong. So it is official - there's nothing wrong with me! But I still have a high pulse rate, just over 100. She took some advice and talked to the exercise therapist. He pointed out that right now I'm not up to doing anything that's going to raise my pulse rate anyway!

So I was allowed to go, and started right away. The great thing is that I was attending exercise therapy for a few years before my stroke, so I know the therapist and the gym well. Familiarity really helps when you're nervous and feeling vulnerable.

We worked first on my bad arm, which the physiotherapists ignored after the first 6 weeks, so it was pretty stiff. But we were amazed at how much it improved, even though there is still no life in it - yet! He showed Michael how to do the stretches for me so we can do them every day.

I went on the cycle and then he made me sit on a high seat and stand up and sit down without holding on - 10 times! It was hard work but I felt great afterwards.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Stroke Recovery: Exercise Therapy Assessment

This has been a busy week. The most significant thing was my Exercise Therapy assessment on Tuesday. I have been looking forward to this, as my physiotherapy has finished and now I need strength in my legs. As far as I was concerned, the assessment was a formality, to determine the programme of exercise that I need. However, it didn't turn out that way.

First the good news: I have lost a few pounds since last week, my muscles % is right, and my blood pressure is OK.

The bad news: My resting pulse rate is 104 and they won't let anyone do Exercise Therapy with a pulse over 100. It was a real surprise as it was OK in hospital. The problem is that exercise raises the pulse rate, and if it's high already, that is dangerous. The Exercise Therapist is going to talk to the doctor and let me know. The only treatment is more walking to strengthen my heart or medication. There is no appointment available at the doctor's until next Wednesday.

So I am trying to walk about more, and waiting until next Wednesday. Please pray for me, that my pulse rate will come down, and I have the chance to get fitter under supervision.