Courage and Patience
Rob Rawlings survived a massive stroke Sept. 22nd of 2017. At the age of 46 his life was turned upside down. Now, just a little over a year since that day, Rob is still continuing to see improvements.
Right before leaving the ICU for inpatient therapy, one of my doctors told my wife Donya and me there were two things we would need to get through the next year and possibly longer; Courage and Patience. Though other words, motivational quotes and symbols have helped me in my recovery, these two simple words have helped and meant the most.
Solely relying on my own experiences as reference, and humbly admitting that on a daily basis I’ve had to be courageous, is why I have improved, and will continue to recover. There are so many types and severities of strokes that I don’t want to diminish what other survivors experience. All strokes are horrible, period! On a scale of 1 to 10, I’ve been told I had a 9 due to the paralysis, double vision, inability to swallow and impaired speech I experienced. Quite frankly, when I tell doctors where my stroke occurred, they’re often shocked I survived at all.
Showing courage came in many forms in the beginning, but most notably in accepting the reality that I had a stroke and recovery would take time. When therapy began, I actually looked forward to the daily sessions, though I was scared, because I knew deep down it would bring me one step further towards recovery. When you see two images because your eyesight has been affected, when your head is spinning, and when you have no feeling on an entire side of your body, and your therapist tells you, “OK! We’re going to walk in the hallway today!”, my first thought was “Have you even seen me try to stand?? I’m a Fall Risk!!”. Second thought was, “I better do this, they won’t let me fall.”
Patience, on the other hand, is something I’ve had to really work at, especially since coming home. I’m right handed, and that is the side that was affected. As I progress and show improvements, I attempt to do things more and more, but my fine motor skills were hit pretty hard. So, things I used to take for granted, like buttoning a shirt, picking a coin up off the floor, using a remote control, opening a sandwich baggie, are a real struggle, if not something I can even accomplish right now. And as my wife can attest to, that’s were the frustration kicks in, and I have to take a step back, take some deep breaths, and say to myself, “It’ll come. Just not right now.” But I’m also human, and it’s not always that graceful. Emotions kick in, a few choice words and tears have been heard and seen, but then I’ll move past the emotion and forge ahead and try, try again.
Courage and patience aren’t only attributes that help guide me, they also guide my wife. She’s been there every step of the journey providing that little push, or word of encouragement, or shoulder to cry upon. I’ve been blessed to have a strong support system around me, because the stroke didn’t just impact my life, but hers as well. We’re a pretty good team!