Shortly after my stroke, less than a week, I resumed my
daily walk with the dogs. Me and Amoret, twice a day. I could walk OK; the yaw to the right
is manageable; that is, I don’t go in a large circle. We hit the ground about 8am; it’s at least 11am
or noon before I get a case of somnolence which requires a siesta.
I load them up in the estate/station wagon with no difficulty
early in the morning because we have to take K to school and right next to the
school is this gorgeous park. Well, it would be if The Wildlife Trust and
borough council did their job, which they don’t. But that’s another blog.
As soon as I get out, I notice a problem with my spatial
apperception – (I once got 100% on the US Marine Corps flying school spatial
apperception test. But that’s yet a different blog.) After I get dogs
out, I close the overhead door – right on the head of my Amoret! (Oh, I’m
sorry, sorry, sorry. I didn’t see you there. It happened at least four times
that I remember and each time I said “Oh, I’m sorry, sorry, sorry. I didn’t see
you there” and really felt horrible about it) I finally decided to leave the
tailgate closing to Amoret until I could be trusted. She has put up with more
than the usual “sickness and in health” vows she took.
We walk a mile or two generally, staying away from people
because I can’t talk. I would have to explain I’ve had a stroke and can’t speak
properly but the brain is working despite what you think. Then they would have
to feel sorry for me, and/or I’d have to listen to how their Uncle Simon had a
stroke back in ’74 and died, bless him. (I hate it when they say ‘bless him/her’ – it belittles the person)
So I avoided folk in general. It was just me, the dogs and
Amoret and my camera.
One day we ran into a guy on mobility scooter who was
walking his dog and I’m sad to say I avoided him. He has something like Cerebral
Palsy (I didn’t ask) and he spoke like I did, fighting to get the words out and past
his lips and in proper order.
I told myself that not speaking to him was because he’d
think I was making fun of him. So while Amoret talked with him I stayed away
keeping the dogs busy.
I remember feeling guilty. It wasn’t him thinking I was
making fun of him after all. If I had to reach into my heart of hearts, it was
(I finally figured out) because I was ashamed of my condition.
I was told by the medical minds following my stroke that: “most
people fully recover.” Yet here was I stumbling to find meagre, unpronounceable
words from what was a life-long logorrhoea of language (aphasia hadn’t been
mentioned yet – it wasn’t one of my words) and half of my body wasn’t working.
Anybody would think I was disabled!
I suddenly had an insight what it was like in a mobility scooter life.
Later I went over to him and explained my situation as best I could,
with Amoret filling in the blanks. His name is Gary. His dog is named Tyler. He’s
one of the regulars on our walks.
The enforced walks – try telling a Border Collie you’re not
going out today – have a therapeutic value. It’s a recovery plan we thought up
ourselves; our own rehabilitation programme through our own circumstances, no
reliance on the NHS. And consider the value of exercising rescue dogs AND a stroke
rehabilitation getting treated for free.
I would be happy to share my rehabilitation scheme with the NHS
for just a fraction of those consultancy fees I see they’re paying.
Rain or shine I was out in every kind weather upon penalty
of Border Collie revenge. They always know where you are.