I Am Certain I Was the Only Patient Who Showed Up With the 19 Year Old Son they were carrying when they had a stroke
Every stroke is different
I learned last week that I have a diagnosis known as PSSP. That’s post stroke shoulder pain. I’ve had it for 20 years:
I think I have finally cracked the code for this pain. I had a wire surgically implanted that communicates with an external stimulator that interrupts the signal of pain to my brain through a process known as parasthesia.
After the surgery, I had to visit the doctor to have the device programmed. Because the doctor is in New York City, I asked my son to drive me to the appointment and attend the visit with me. I had mentioned to the doctor at the first visit that I had been 26 weeks pregnant when I had the stroke in 1999. Many assume the baby didn’t make it when I tell them that. I am quick to tell everyone that the “baby” is 19 years old.
My son and I met with a representative from the device manufacturer first. Kay spent an hour filling out forms and programming the device for my needs.
She was amazed to see me use my left hand to help take off my shirt. She said that most of the people she sees post stroke have no use of their affected hand. At one point Kay asked me to spell my name. I did so easily. Next she asked for my date of birth. Easy also. She told me that some patients she sees are not able to answer those questions.
When Dr. James came in to look at my surgery site, I introduced him to my son. I told him he was the baby I was carrying when I had the stroke. Ben is a tall, handsome 19 year old. I was proud to say he came along so he could drive, and was going to listen intelligently to the instructions. Kay was very impressed. She told me she had 3 premature babies, the earliest child was 24 weeks which is the minimum age that will be considered viable. She was in the NICU for four months. The doctor asked me if I use the stroke to guilt Ben. I explained that we never blamed the stroke on Ben. Instead, we told him that he was the reason I lived. He saved my life because he needed me to be his mother. Ben concurred, and made some excellent jokes. Kay asked him about his camera that he brings everywhere.
Kay made sure Ben understood everything she told me. I was so glad to have another intelligent adult attend the appointment. There were a lot of technical instructions about using the device. We both made sure we understood them.
There is a program for the device to use while you’re walking. Kay told me it is a 10 minute program. I asked about walking for longer than that. She said the program was designed around people who are mostly walking from the car to the house. I told her I often walk for more than 10 minutes.
Kay was impressed by my recovery. She made me think about how grateful I am for the outcome of surviving a stroke while pregnant.
I asked Ben if he noticed how impressed Kay was by how well we are both doing. He said he did, and told me not to be so impressed with myself.
I told him I wasn’t being full of myself. I was just pointing out how lucky we are that I am able to think, use my left hand at all, spell my name, and I know when my birthday is. I also have an amazing son who took the day off from work to take me to the doctor. Grateful.