It’s been a couple of years since I wrote about the stroke I had on September 19, 2017, so I thought it was time to share an update on how my recovery is going.
At the time of my post (Jan. 2018), we had recently learned I had some “residual AVM” (arteriovenous malformation, or tangled vessels, that I was apparently born with). A few weeks later, I underwent the Gamma Knife radiosurgery at UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh; Dr. Lunsford is the authority on the procedure. The treatment can take up to three years in order to be effective. We did an MRI six months afterward, which revealed that it was indeed working. And, the last one (June 2019) showed no remaining signs of the AVM. However, Dr. Lunsford wants to give it the full three years, so we will check again in about a year, or so. I hope to be cleared, at that point!
In terms of therapy, I was discharged from Physical Therapy in the spring of 2018, and I was fully discharged from Occupational Therapy about a year later. I continue to go to Drayer Physical Therapy Institute a couple of times per week to do those exercises I can’t easily do at home.
At this point, I am focusing on fine-tuning (my walk, and the use of my right arm and hand) and building strength. In some ways, this may always be a core focus.
It’s worth noting that one of my favorite new pieces of exercise equipment is the Bodyblade, which I have been using for a year and a half. It’s a popular piece of exercise equipment, but it was originally developed by a physical therapist. I started using it at Drayer, then bought one to use at home. It’s great for building strength and also for improving balance, which has always been an interest of mine. In fact, to increase the level of difficulty, I stand on a two-inch foam pad.
One of the biggest developments has been in the area of driving. I wasn’t in a particular hurry to start driving again, but I slowly got behind the while in the fall of 2018, about a year after the stroke. I have continued to improve and become more comfortable. In fact, on our recent trip to visit family in Tennessee, I drove nearly 18 hours, out of 23 hours total. That was a big deal!
The other development I’m excited and hopeful about is the MusicGlove from Flint Rehab, a device that could me regain the use of my hand. I have been using it for a few months, and while it’s the hardest thing I have done, I am hopeful that it will be effective. I know it will take some time!
At this stage in my recovery, I know that growth and development will be slow-going. But, I also believe I can continue to see improvements with God’s help, and as long as I’m willing to stick with it!
During my recovery, I have also been committed to returning to living out God’s call on my life in ministry. I’m grateful for the support of the Centre Grove United Methodist Church, who has been on this unexpected journey with me. In hindsight, I’m grateful I was able to do as much as I did as early as I did.
Of course, I must say how grateful I am for everyone else who has supported me on this journey. I’m grateful for my wife, Joleen, and for my kids, Ethan and Sarah. And, I’m grateful to God for my life, and I am convinced that apart from him, I can do nothing! (cf. John 15.5). Thanks be to God!