The assault on my brain continues – not the lack of blood flow, that’s happened and can’t be reversed (so I found out later) – the result of trying to compensate with limited physical capabilities.
I get a visit from a young man and young woman dressed in tennis whites who tell me they “are there to help me” (where have I heard that before, and has it ever been true?). They are my physiotherapists. Shortly I will be taken though the bowels of the hospital to a subterranean gym, negotiating three flights of stairs and quick turns. The couple there to “help me” are at my elbows touching me whenever the course needs correcting or I’m about to crash into a wall because my tendency to move to the right is quite noticeable. (If I were a politician I’d be called right wing, such is the yaw)
As a TV reporter I remember I once was as vulnerable. Totally blindfolded, so you can’t cheat by looking downwards to follow your feet, I entrusted myself to a Pilot Dogs trainee for a story. These are dogs that are nearly finished training and still need fine-tuning. It was a black lab, whose name I forget, who led me through the intricacies of a modern American city as though I were unsighted. Through department stores and up escalators and though revolving doors, crossing streets, avoiding litter barrels and uneven pavements and shoppers and the mumblecrusts. Each time the student dog got it right guiding me with unerring accuracy until one time I gave the command to go ahead and he refused. I told him again with similar result. Again and again he refused. Time to check with my human handler who told me: trust the dog. We went left as was the dog’s disposition.
I should have known there was something up. I found later as I watched the footage in editing the story that the reason the student dog refused my order was because I ordered him to walk straight into a wall.
The gym is large – a wood floor with painted lines on it and isolated instructor/patients. As much as I hate gyms, this place didn’t affect me as such. Maybe it was the lack of Nautilus equipment and the presence of one-on-one sessions.
It turns out that the couple in tennis whites assigned to me were a student and a tutor. The woman was the student and took direction from the man. He suggested to her that I begin with hand dexterity and she relayed to me we would begin with seeing how my right hand worked – could I do this? – she made a motion like strumming her fingers on a table top as though she were bored or in a hurry. I saw the mental image in my mind but when I went to recreate it I failed miserably. She showed me: slowly then, one finger at a time. Almost. Again. Almost. The left hand had no such problems.
They told me that I can recover from a stroke. It takes hard work. That‘s what I needed to hear: a way out of this morass.
OK. This is going to be easy. It should take a few sessions while I re-train myself from this brain fart. Put in the pain to get the gain. A few tweedle-dees and few tweedle-dums of the hand and few exercises of the body and I’ll be back in shape in no time. That’s the physical side and I’ll get speech therapy so they can correct the voice. This no more than a temporary illness; a bout of flu. A couple of weeks of hard graft and things will be back to normal.
I had no experience of strokes.