Life after a massive stroke
Sixty-year-old Coleridge Raynor feared he might be completely incapacitated for the rest of his life when he suffered a massive stroke two days before Cup Match.
He said it started with a numb feeling in his lower left leg and foot that he first mistook as simply his foot being asleep.
“But then I couldn’t lift it at all,” he said. In a matter of moments he felt his left side become heavy and he lost the ability to move it.
“I called my uncle to take me the hospital,” he said. And in the short space of time it took them to reach King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (KEMH), his uncle had to lift him out of the car and into the emergency department.
Mr Raynor said he wasn’t sure what was happening to him at the time, and a myriad of thoughts and emotions ran through his head. With a family history of stroke, he was no stranger to how quickly one can hit and how debilitating it can be. In fact on the drive to the hospital his uncle questioned if that’s what was happening.
A CT scan revealed he’d had a stroke. KEMH physiotherapist Jenson Bascome said the scan revealed a large portion of Mr Raynor’s brain was affected. The result was that Mr Raynor had little to no movement in his left arm and leg, his speech was slurred and he was drooling from the left side of his mouth. But the stroke only affected his ability to control his muscles; he still had sensation on his left side.
He never lost consciousness and physicians at KEMH explained to him that he had suffered a stroke. He said the news frightened him but he clung to the positive messages and encouragement he received from staff. Mr Raynor, like most stroke patients, had a team of allied health professionals helping him to chart a course back to independent living.
“It’s truly multidisciplinary. Everyone works together to try to get the best outcomes for each person,” Mr Bascome said of the team that comes into place for stroke victims.
In addition to the physiotherapist, an occupational therapist helps patients achieve functionality that enables them as much as possible to be self sufficient, a speech therapist helps not only with forming words but also with the mechanics of eating and swallowing and a social worker helps the person with integrating back into their community and coming to terms with the fact that they’ve had a stroke and how their life may need to change.
Mr Bascome said the allied health workers meet with stroke victims as soon as possible after they’ve been admitted.
“We educate each person on their specific stroke what part of the brain was affected so they understand where they are, what has happened and how we can move forward,” he said.
In Mr Raynor’s case he was unable to even sit up in his bed without help. He could not sit on the edge of the bed and would topple over if not supported. Luckily his cognition was fine and unlike many severe stroke victims, he was capable of understanding what therapists asked him.
Just a day after he was admitted to KEMH his physiotherapist Mr Bascome, physically supported him to a standing position and coached him in using equipment aids to do the same.
Mr Raynor said he was surprised at what he was able to do although he was still grappling with what had happened to him.
“It was a sudden loss for Mr Raynor,” Mr Bascome said. “He was perfectly fine walking and doing the regular things one day and the next day he couldn’t move.”
While no one can say for certain, it’s believed that worry and stress triggered Mr Raynor’s stroke. He said he considered himself physically fit, before the stroke. He did not smoke or have high blood pressure and was physically active every day.
This made staying in bed and being confined to the hospital, upsetting for him. “I felt useless,” he said. “I couldn’t do for myself. The things people had to do for me made me humble.” But the dependence also motivated him to regain his independence.
Mr Bascome said it was Mr Raynor’s drive and determination that enabled him to achieve the success he’s seen in rehabilitation.
After three months in KEMH, working a few hours every day with his therapists, Mr Raynor was finally released in late October. He can walk, talk, eat, take stairs and look after himself quite well.
He does require some help. Moving with a walking stick, cooking is too challenging for him and is not recommended by his therapists as yet. Three times a week he attends the rehabilitation day hospital at KEMH where he continues to receive physical therapy and, according to Mr Bascome, continues to gain strength, confidence and independence.
Asked if he was aiming to be out in time to celebrate Christmas, Mr Raynor said: “That was actually the furthest thing from my mind. I just wanted to be out of hospital and with my family. Now Christmas is around the corner and I’m happy to be out and with them. It will be extra special this year because I’m still here, I’m alive.”
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