Congratulations, You Lived. Be Thankful!

Posted on June 15, 2015


I would like to share Bradford’s story with  you – my readers.  Bradford is a dear friend, an amazing person.  I will never forget when my husband received “the call” from Bradford’s father regarding the news.  We were shocked.  Bradford had a stroke at 42 years old.

He had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes years prior, but a stroke…The stroke has completely changed his approach and outlook to life.  I asked Bradford a series of questions and have included his responses (unaltered).  He typed the responses which took time and dedication.  Be sure to read all the way to the end.  The words of wisdom at the end are the best.

Thank you Bradford for sharing part of your life with us and inspiring us all to be THANKFUL for every single day.

1.  When were you first diagnosed with diabetes? 35
2. Type 1 or Type 2? 2
3.  Were you having symptoms of diabetes?  If so, what symptoms? I did not have any
4.  What treatment plan did the doctor put you on?  Insulin?  Pills?  Diet?  Exercise? pills and exercise
5.  Did you adhere to this plan of action?  Why or why not? No I was young and did not follow it like I should.
6.  What was your reaction to the diagnosis? It was both shock and indifference honestly
7.  Does diabetes run in your family? father and great grandfather
8.  What was it like living with diabetes?  Pros?  Cons? I had a stroke at 42 so dealing with it is easy as I’m focused on stroke recovery.  I now adhere to a very lo carb low sugar diet and I am on pills and insulin.
9.  How did diabetes change your life?  It has never been determined if it was a factor in my stroke because I had several other possibilities.  I am sure it didn’t help.
10.   Let’s talk about the stroke.  When did the stroke occur?  How old were you? The stroke occurred in 2012 I was 42.
11.  What happened and what immediate treatment did you receive?  I’m not sure where to start so I was with a friend visiting his father in Georgia,  That night I felt off.  The nest morning I was slurring and could not move my left arm or leg.  My friend called my father in West Virginia who told him to call me an ambulance.  I was 90 miles from the closest er so i waited for the ambulance and they took me in.
12.  How long were you in the hospital?  What was that like?  I was in ICU for a week then a general room for a week then a hospital rehab facility for 10 days.
13.  Do you remember having the stroke? I remember having balance issues and confusion.
14.   What do the doctors think caused the stroke? They are not sure
15.  What do you think caused the stroke? Well it was probably the combination of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and i had a job, I had just gotten downsized from, that had my flying 80 times a year for over 5 years.
16.  Were there any signs leading up to the stroke?  Any other healthcare concerns prior to the stroke?  Was your diabetes well managed – blood sugars, etc.? I had a bout with bells palsy that lasted about a week and the previous year I had some hand numbness that I attributed to a hornet sting and a few months before I got ill in canada and sicker still in belgium the following week.  After the stroke the MRI showed two previous mini strokes.  I had know idea.
17.  What has the recovery been like?  Short term and long term?  Nightmarish.  At first my left arm and leg would do nothing.  I had total feeling in each but no movement so I read.  I stopped at 10 current stroke recovery books.  I read scripture daily and now I read for enjoyment and do the crossword puzzles in the local papers around 4 a day.  My father took me to the YMCA pool early on.  I did what I could which was barely anything.  Over the past 3 years some things started to return.  my left foot and toes aren’t responding yet well my left hand will squeeze but my left wrist hasn’t yet returned,  About 2 months ago my left foot started pushing ever so slightly so no I work it in the pool and around the same time my left leg hamstrings started to kick in.  for me this is such a complex question due to insurance.  From being downsized a few months prior my insurance stopped at the end of the severance package agreement so for the first time in over 22 years I had no insurance.  So I have been in PT off an on depending on my insurance situation.  The self work in the pool has my left arm and leg working a little better now so a couple weeks ago I started PT again.
18.  Were are you now in regards to recovery?  What is a typical day like?  i fill I am constantly getting better but I have a long way to go. MWF I spend 3 hours working in the pool,  T,TH I have pt, Saturday I rest Sunday our church has a long hallway and a new hallway that leads up to the new gym.  I walk down the hallway, then up the hallway to the gym then ok I’ll spare about 200 yards.  I use a cain and one of my parents goes with me in case I lose my balance.
19.  How do you cope with the effects of the stroke? Day by day and measure myself by how far I’ve come since the stroke and not where I was before it.
20.  How do you cope with your diabetes? low carb low sugar diet, as much exercise As my function will allow and meds and insulin.
21.  What are your long term goals for recovery?  Total recovery, hopefully be able to walk. drive, and work again.
22.  How is your diabetes? well managed although my A1Cs have been 6.5 to 6.8 I should check my blood sugar more often but it is very difficult to do with one hand.
23.  Do you approach diabetes differently post stroke?  If so, how and why?  Oh yes before the stroke I honestly have know idea but proceeded as if I did not have it.  Now I pay extreme attention to everything I put in my body.  I also avoid sweeteners and sodas.
24.  What is your outlook on life?  very positive
25.  What words of advice would you give to people with diabetes reading this interview?  1.Control it before it controls you. 2.Yea, everything is fine, until it’s not. (for instance life is great-stroke-loss of life or independence)
26.  What have you learned about yourself?  I don’t know everything and I’m not invincible.
27.  Has healthcare coverage impacted your recovery? If so, how?  Lord,  yes but it is cumbersome to explain but to some it up medicaid is useless unless you have less that two thousand dollars in total assets or have never worked.  medicare disability and now medicare medical insurance with it have been a blessing but they both take time.
28.  What’s next?  Baby steps and dealing with what comes.
29.  Any final comments you would like to share? I came up with these for a friend who’s father had just had a stroke but I am by no means a licensed healthcare pro just lived through it:
Things that both the care giver and stroke victim should know:
Ø  Focus on everything you CAN do, not what you CAN’T.
Ø  Change your attitude and perspective you are no longer you, you are post stroke, you.
Ø  Everything you do will make you tired for a while.  Rest, rest is also a form of healing.
Ø  They cannot guarantee what if anything you will get back, but they can guarantee if you do nothing, that is exactly what you will get back, nothing.
Ø  Do every exercise, given to you by a doctor or therapist, no matter how hard or how stupid, at least twice a day if not three.
Ø  Set small goals and work to achieve them.
Ø  Recognize every accomplished goal or any improvement.
Ø  Know that your recovery is your own, not your therapist’s.  It is their responsibility to work with you and teach you and give you things to work on.  It is YOUR responsibility to use this information to work on your own outside of therapy sessions.
Ø  FIND an indoor pool that your caregiver can take you to, in order to perform exercises in the water to help with recovery.
Ø  NEVER GIVE UP!  No matter what anyone says stroke patients can and do heal for years.
Ø  If you drink alcohol, even casually, you don’t now.
Ø  If you want to live your diet just changed.  Learn what to eat.
Ø  Find joy in little or different things.
Ø  You NEED help so get over it, even bad asses need help on occasion.
Ø  Start your day thinking about any small thing you are thankful for.
Ø  Remember no matter how bad it is, as long as you are on this side of the dirt, things could always be worse.
Ø  There will be uncontrollable bouts of inappropriate laughing or crying.  When this occurs laugh with them and when it is crying don’t try to comfort them just be there.  A stroke victim can’t control this no matter how hard they try so just be there.  After time this should pass.
Ø  Watch for signs of depression.  If it occurs talk to the doc and treat it accordingly.
Ø  Find comfortable pants.
Ø  Move any body part you can to avoid bed soars at first.
Ø  Get a personal TENS unit and have your therapist teach you to use it properly.
Ø  Get a pair of no lace slip on tennis shoes. They go on easily with one hand, work well with an AFO, and have good traction which you need.
Ø  Any pride you had, lose it, it will not help you.
Ø  Water, coffee, tea, milk are your new beverages.  Most every other beverage is in your past.  Also no creamer or sugar added. Coconut water is also good for you.
Ø  Eat a banana once a day.
Ø  Crossword puzzles or any brain games are good for you.
Ø  Try to read as much as possible.
Ø  Get a laptop.
Ø  Have a bar installed in your house that you can use for support to practice standing and various leg and arm exercises.
You will notice that many of the words of wisdom can be applied to any condition.  Know that you are not alone.
 I will finish this blog post with a repeat of the words – BE THANKFUL FOR EVERY SINGLE DAY!