I wanted badly to resume my career and thought I could do so until my stroke specialist doctor made me understand that dream just wasn’t possible. I really didn’t want to become a shut-in glued to daytime shows on the Hitler Channel, or glued to a telescope counting birds in nearby trees or on the lagoon.
My best friend is a retired doc who rebooted his life in retirement. It was Dr. Andy who lit a fire under my butt suggesting I enroll in an adaptive PE class at the college of San Mateo. I resisted the idea at first, but my doc said “Do it” and had a social worker show me how I could get to and from my home for the classes.
Although My driver’s license hadn’t been suspended (a common practice for stroke patients who suffer cognitive damage)I didn’t feel I was safe to drive.
One of the first things my buddy Dr. Andy suggested was to sign up for the local transit district’s handicap shuttle service. TO my surprise there were already several resident s of my condo complex who used the handicap shuttle to get to and from the adaptive PE class and to go shopping in San Mateo.
Which bring me, unceremoniously, to the point of this post.
What kind of gifts are of great use to stroke patients.
Gifts for Stroke Patients.
- 1. Handicapped transit passes. Because such services are often underwritten by federal agencies they are affordable. And most importantly it’s liberating to get the hell out of the house and actively reengage life. I’m not the least bit ashamed to say I rode the short bus. It helped me get to doctors’ appointments, my adaptive PE program, and post exercise social activities.
2. Enrollment fees associated with joining a student body association and an adaptive PE program, designed for handicapped people.
3. Movie Passes. I’ve lost track of how many first run movies I saw on Friday afternoons, but I used the short bus to get me to the theater a lot, And it rekindled my longstanding love of the cinema and the art of movie making. Besides, the experience reinforced my dream of being a snarky critic as the robot Tom Servo on Mystery Science Theater.
4. Any activity that helps or forces a stroke patient use the hands and digits on their affected side. One of the activities I’ve consistently recommended to friends since I had my stroke, are shopping trips to buy three or four Big Chief Indian lined writing pads. Part of this experience should also include stopping at an office Supplies or Stationers to try and buy a pen that’s comfortable enough to be used to practice printing and writing for extended periods. Pens with large sculpted barrels can help stroke patients get back their ability to writing or printing. You should see the pen pot on the left side of my desk. But damn it the damage to my left hand was bad enough that I’ll never be able to legibly long hand a story, ever again.
5. Library cards. After powering through everything my library system had on California, the “on” switch in my stroke addled brain got turned on suddenly and I remembered that in every library system there’s at least one research librarian. Although I knew about the university of California’ historical collection at the Bancroft library, it was a research librarian in San Mateo who showed me how to prize open the UC library system enough to gain access to electronic copies of those documents. Speaking of books there is one I believe is a must-read for stroke patients or their loved ones: D. Jill Bolt Taylor’s personal odyssey through a stroke, “My Stroke of Insight.”
6. Like most stroke patients, I’m very reliant on computers to write, read news or occasionally binge watch episodic television shows. As a result of my stroke, my vision changed and I find a large screen high resolution display is easier to use for extended periods. A large screen display for desktop PCs and a notebook with great screen resolution really help. In recovery I’m highly mobile and never go anywhere without a portable computer. My new favorite is Microsoft’s Surface Book ( a 2-in-1 notebook that lets you disconnect the screen and lets you use it as a tablet. If Surface book’s hefty price tag makes you blink or you don’t require a Windows table, look at ultrabook portables. I carried an Acer S7 ultrabook for about 18 months and recommend this sub $650 rugged portable to my friends and family.
7. Driving lessons. Stroke patients needed to remember all divers are asked (or must attest to) not being mentally impaired as part of the license renewal process. Well I wasn’t howling at the moon daft, but the stroke did damage my cognitive skills and I prepared for the question by arranging a simple road-test by a driving school instructor. I passed, he gave me an “A-OK to drive” letter and I was back on the road within one year of my stroke.
8. Friendship—So I really need to know how important this is to recovering patients of all types?
9. I am no longer ashamed of my stroke disabilities. Years later, I’m willing to hop in my Kia hamster van and zip up I-5 from San Diego to catch a limit of rainbow trout at Fuller Lake, or to go be a young man and listen to a little live Tower of Power at the state or a local county fair with a friend who shares my eclectic taste in music.