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As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. Henry David Thoreau...
On September 24, 2002 my late father suffered a massive stroke at 94 years old. Many life style changes had to be made.This is a one of a series of portraits I made of him in Rehab in the process of getting physical therapy...... Dad was paralyzed on the left side of his body..arm and leg plus other bodily functions were impaired..His speech however was to remain intact. A Social Worker at the hospital told him before he was released for rehab.. "do not think of yourself as a stroke victim, you are a stroke survivor."
Dad had to learn to walk all over again...and he was put through some rigorous paces by a very good staff of trained therapists from October 1st until November 6th, 2002...He cooperated splendidly with these good people. My husband who was retired from his meat cutting job and I left our home to help take care of Dad then for 6 months at the home place....We learned a lot about strokes.. how it effects the personality, changes in memory and a whole gambit of mixed emotions, including hallucinations..
When Dad tried to read he couldn't figure out in his words, why the author would repeat the same words over and over. He had lost his ability to scan back and forth with his eyes the text on a page....One time he saw a hallucination of a fox coming in the front door...and he would sometimes talk to some of the hallucinations that he thought he saw... He would take out his frustrations on us but of course he could not help his behavior because it was the result of the stroke which in turn caused him to have dementia..One night I caught him about to step over the bed rails of his rented hospital bed ...I got up after I heard him thrashing around in the night and I caught him just before he took a nose dive.. .We couldn't take it personally but it was a struggle and a culture shock to witness the big changes in his personality..That was the hardest of all to get accustomed to...He had a whole different vocabulary... including cuss words he never used before...even the tone of his voice sounded deeper...He was an entirely different father than I was used to... Dad had a heart attack December 24th of 2002 which set him back, but he lived for another year and he died at 95 years old of pneumonia, in the hospital on December 18, 2003 after a brief stay at a Nursing Home ..I miss the sweet father of who he was before the stroke changed him and damaged his brain...After hearing of my neighbor's recent stroke at age 71, I am taking control of my own lifestyle to healthier eating and more exercising...If nothing else, I hope by writing this personal essay I have inspired others to do the same with your life before it is too late ..Thank you!
Also by Andrea Petersen
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