Lifestyle Changes

Uploaded 9 Jul 2012 — 22 favorites
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© Andrea Petersen
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Photo license: © All rights reserved

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!

23 responses

  • Sarah Springer

    Sarah Springer (Deleted) gave props (9 Jul 2012):

    Yes, Andrea this year I have decided to do so as well....I take care of my mother and know that there is many things to do for her and myself...a very good narration and photo Thank You

  • James Wiley

    James Wiley gave props (9 Jul 2012):

    Very touching (not in a literal way)!

  • Judy and Wayne Wanamaker

    Judy and Wayne Wanamaker gave props (9 Jul 2012):

    This is a very inspiring essay, Andrea, and a wonderful shot of your father in physical therapy. Thanks for the good advice.

  • Ann Reece

    Ann Reece   gave props (9 Jul 2012):

    I agree with the others that just commented above. This is a good narration and photo of your fathers battle with his stroke.

  • Donna Mullins

    Donna Mullins (Deleted) gave props (9 Jul 2012):

    wonderful photo and story Andrea! Thank you for sharing.

  • Heather Mellon

    Heather Mellon said (10 Jul 2012):

    A very literal life changing situation, not only for the patient, but their family and friends as well. An excellent narrative and image, Andrea, and a wonderful entry for the theme!!

  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (10 Jul 2012):

    Changing JPG's Theme Park for the best.

  • Regenia Brabham

    Regenia Brabham gave props (10 Jul 2012):

    This is a powerful entry Andrea. My father has had several small strokes and it has changed his personality drastically.

  • Donald Garrett

    Donald Garrett gave props (10 Jul 2012):

    SO very personal and well-presented!! One of our dearest friends has now been caretaker for her stroke victim mother for nearly 10 year. The stroke victim, at 88, still has all her mental faculties, yet can't communicate with speech!s

  • Joy B

    Joy B gave props (10 Jul 2012):

    So perfect for this theme. There is nothing harder than being a care giver in this situation. Your father was very lucky to have you.

  • Andrea Petersen

    Andrea Petersen said (10 Jul 2012):

    Thank you everyone for your kind words...It was very hard for me to write this as it brought
    back painful memories but I didn't want it to be swept under the carpet either ... it is a part
    of the harsh realities of life that we sometimes close our eyes to..My father before the stroke
    was a proud man ... he did not even like to be seen using a cane in public and often times
    wouldn't use it when he needed to...Life can change so quickly and our priorities also...

  • Sonia Adam Murray

    Sonia Adam Murray gave props (10 Jul 2012):

    Andrea you and your husband are wonderful children, it shows the love and respect that you had for your Father you are both to be commended for your dedication and love. It is very difficult facing the challenges one's parents present at old age. I always pray that I may go quickly and not give my children endless problems and heartaches.

  • Leslie Hunziker

    Leslie Hunziker   gave props (10 Jul 2012):

    this is so sad, Andrea, and yet so beautiful at the same time!

  • Lynn E. Harvey

    Lynn E. Harvey gave props (10 Jul 2012):

    A very moving story and so thank you for showing us a part of life that many can not look at! Powerful!

  • Susan Littlefield

    Susan Littlefield gave props (11 Jul 2012):

    A very poignant photo, and a very heartfelt story. I have long been a proponent of a healthy lifestyle....a drum I probably beat far too often, to the consternation of my friends!!

  • Litz Go

    Litz Go gave props (11 Jul 2012):

    very touching. they are so lucky and fortunate to live that long. great theme entry, Andrea!

  • Shirley Valencia

    Shirley Valencia   gave props (11 Jul 2012):

    outstanding!!!!!!!!!!!! great entry

  • Deborah Downes

    Deborah Downes gave props (13 Jul 2012):

    Thanks so much for sharing, my friend. So personal, moving, and inspiring.

  • Davide Simone

    Davide Simone (Deleted) gave props (16 Jul 2012):

    i agree with Sarah!!!!!!

  • Andrea Petersen

    Andrea Petersen said (16 Jul 2012):

    Thank you so much Davide for nominating this entry for photo of the week ....Our parents
    are so much a part of us and when they leave us through death we have to remember the
    good they brought to this earth in shaping our lives..They pave the road ahead of us. My late
    mother who passed away on October 26th, 2011, would be 103 on July 18th if she were still alive. They live with us in memory and in spirit until we meet again on the other side...

  • Susan B. Griffith

    Susan B. Griffith   said (16 Jul 2012):

    A touching story and picture filled with much love.

  • Ioana Caravan

    Ioana Caravan   gave props (16 Jul 2012):

    What can I say? Just thank you, Andrea to share your story.

  • Iztok Urh

    Iztok Urh gave props (21 Jul 2012):


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