Ray’s wife, Karen, couldn’t walk and could only communicates through a thumbs-up or down right after her stroke. Karen’s strong desire to walk again and overcome her apraxia and aphasia helped her get better every day.
Karen is 63 years old; she was 62 at the time of her stroke. She was a terrific grandmother. She doted on her grandchildren, went around and did as much as possible for everybody. She was a great wife. She was a lot of fun to be with and we had a wonderful life together. The effects of the stroke to both of us have just been horrendous.
On the day that she had the stroke, which was a bleeder, she was resting at the hospital in intensive care. We didn’t know if she was going to live or if she was going to die. Eventually after a day or two, we found her that she ended up in the intensive care unit and then a day or two later she went into the intensive rehabilitation center at the Rhode Island hospital. They got right to work on her. In the beginning nothing was happening, then there were small changes in her legs that started to come back.
As far as speech was concerned, she was confined to (thumbs up and thumbs down) or even this (gesturing ‘maybe’) was one of her favorite ways of speaking. She couldn’t tell what a knife or a fork was. She spent six weeks at an intensive rehabilitation center at Rhode Island hospital. At that point, she couldn’t walk very well so she needed to be moved to a SNF nursing home type situation. The nursing home was absolutely phenomenal. The people there were caring.
By our insurance standards, they’re allowed to have one hour of each type of therapy every day. One hour of OT, PT, and one hour of speech. Karen, being the fighter that she is, responded to all three very well. She wanted to get up, she wanted to talk, she wanted to walk. Her will and desire for more was there and it showed up first in her walking. She finally got to the point where she could do yes or no and one or two words.
So our journey at that point was three or four months old and we were inside of facility and we were discharged and it was time for home health care. At home health care, again, people would come in and she would do everything for an hour a day. I felt that If she made this kind of progress, what would she do if she would get more help? So we sought out another speech pathologist. That speech pathologist was phenomenal also. That speech pathologist got Karen talking a little bit more, one or two more words and some more writing. But we needed more time spent on the speech.