My name is Art Jensen. I am 57 years old, and I live in Southern California. Up until the summer of 2015, I was enjoying a position as a full-time sales and marketing consultant for a Fortune 500 company. My consulting career ended abruptly when I had a stroke in my left brain hemisphere. The stroke deprived me of the ability to think clearly, speak clearly, to write or use my right (dominant side) arm and hand. I could not stand or walk. The stroke also affected my eyesight and hearing and left my face drooping on the right side. Loss of muscle control, including those that affect the bladder, redefined the word “Urgency.” I experienced pain at an entirely new level. By all accounts; the stroke left me severely damaged
After three weeks in the hospital, including two of those in acute rehab, I spent the next three months confined to a wheelchair, leaving it only when the Home Health Physical Therapist arrived. I spent most of my day in bed sleeping, and when awake I would describe my mental state as numb.
Each day, however, I began to improve in small increments. As my brain healed, my thoughts and speech became clearer, my sense of balance improved and I regained enough function in my affected leg to walk with a four-point cane. The visits from the physical therapist and the occupational therapist began to yield results. My daily exercise routine helped me regain enough functionality to do many tasks on my own.
Fast-forward to the 12-month mark and I experienced significant improvement. Though by any definition I was still “disabled,” I could function and hobble around fairly well. Not enough to walk without a cane or to drive, but enough to bathe and dress, prepare my meals and clean up after myself.
Then the unthinkable happened. Almost exactly one year to the day after the first stroke, I had a second stroke. I figured that the first one was so much fun, why not have another? This time, the doctors said it was in my brain stem. It set me back to just about the place I was when the medical supply company retrieved my rented wheelchair. Here we go again.
Now I am almost two years out from the first stroke and one year since the second. Still severely disabled, but I’m working every day to regain as much functionality as I can. My neurologist told me that I am unlikely to see much improvement. He was wrong because I already have improved since he said that. Perhaps his statement was more of a challenge than a prognosis. I’m still not sure. I have no illusions that I will ever regain 100% functionality – but that doesn’t stop me from trying. As Winston Churchill said: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” I intend to do just that.
I had this site built to share what I have learned from my strokes and to create a space where other stroke survivors can share what they have learned. Share ways to accept, adapt and eventually overcome.
There are perhaps hundreds of ways a stroke can manifest itself, so every stroke is different. However, I have come to believe that many stroke survivors have these things in common:
- Maximum possible recovery may take a long time. A very long time. Years – not weeks or months.
- The insurance benefits to pay for therapies run out long before we reach maximum possible recovery.
- Without the guidance of a physical therapist, the discipline required for maximum possible recovery is insufficient.
If you haven’t already realized that you are largely on your own when it comes to recovery, you soon will. That’s the way things are, so you might as well accept it. That belief is the foundation on which Strokesite is built.
I have found many ways to work around my disabilities. For instance, since I currently cannot write or use a keyboard, I write for this website using voice-recognition software. Other software corrects my grammar since I can’t express my thoughts in quite the way that I used to. I scour the web every day during my limited hours of lucidity in search of information that will help me recover. Exercises, videos, books, philosophies, medical breakthroughs, gadgets and devices, alternative medical therapies – you name it, and I will try it. I am absolutely determined to get as far as possible toward regaining my abilities.
If you share my belief that you are responsible for your recovery and you are willing to do whatever it takes, then this site is for you. There are no guarantees that any of the ideas, philosophies or techniques shared here will help you on your path to recovery. When reading posts or reader comments on Strokesite, keep these things in mind: We are not medical professionals. We are not doctors, physical therapists or occupational therapists. We are not psychiatrists or psychologists. We do have the benefit of experience. I’ve been through this twice now. Others have been through this many more times, and their stroke experience is far more challenging than mine.
You will not find much in the way of sympathy here. I do not have the need for it, and I believe that seeking it makes one weak. To get through this, you will need to develop mental and emotional strength, if you don’t already possess it. Take pride in your ability to endure discomfort and still persist.
My attitude: “So you’ve had a stroke. Sorry to hear that, but things are tough all over. What are you going to do about it? Lay there and complain, or get to work?”
I suggest we get to work. Care to join me?
Art Jensen email@example.com