The Stroke Network, Inc. )

Getting Out

By Marty Arlen



So you've had a stroke and decided to become a recluse. Your looks have changed, you walk differently, you're in a wheelchair, your speech is not perfect, you have a hard time doing everyday things, and you don't want anyone to see you as you are now.

Time to say to yourself  "I'm me. I'm just as human as anyone else and I deserve to be a part of society."

I'm reminded of the time I was on vacation standing next to a babbling brook running into a natural waterfall in a beautiful forest. Next to me were a father and his teenage son. The father was vividly describing the whole scene to his son. The young man was blind. I closed my eyes and could see everything through the father's voice.

When you venture forth, stay outside around the house. Get comfortable. As you get braver, go to a do-it yourself store, like Lowes or Home Depot when they first open. The aisles are wide enough to easily accommodate a wheelchair. Or if you want to practice walking, grab a shopping cart. Go up and down the rows. Watch, I'll get letters from these stores wondering why all these stroke survivors are going up and down the aisles and not spending money. "Just looking."

I'm king of the carts at the supermarket. I hate the shopping, but it gives me a chance to walk securely and I reach for items with my left arm for the exercise. When my wife's not looking, the good stuff has a way of sneaking into the cart.

A restaurant can be traumatic. I remember my first time. I felt everyone was staring at me as I walked to my table. My left hand was not cooperating, so I looked for something easy to eat. As time went on, I got braver and ordered a steak. I asked the waitress to have it cut in the back and deliver it ready to eat. She was accommodating and I felt better. Now I take care of everything by myself. My wife gets upset because I won't let her cater to me.  I should have started easy and gone to McDonalds first, to build up some confidence.

Some people are blind, some are deaf, some are born without all limbs, and some are disfigured from birth, accidents, or other illnesses. If you want to see a mix of all these people, at all ages, in one place, enjoying life, spend a day at Disney world. No one is shy about how they look or what they can or can't do.

And don't forget a note from the doctor for a handicap-parking sticker. Sure makes things easier. But I'll save this topic for another time.

Don't completely lose yourself indoors, using your computer as an escape for reality should have limited time. If you are bedridden or a new survivor, the day will come when you are mobile again, whether in a wheelchair, with a walker or cane, or freely on your own two legs.

The day will come when you are mobile again. Hold your head high as you venture forth and say "World, here I am." 

Marty's Username is 007 on the Stroke Network Message Board

Copyright September 2005

The Stroke Network, Inc.

P.O. Box 492 Abingdon, Maryland 21009

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