Maintaining Balance

One of the key aspects of my body affected by Stroke, was the partial paralysis of the right-side of my body, most notably the limbs. And while the situation was only temporary (thank god for that), the road to recovery had been a hard-fought one. In this I do not over-exaggerate and can but only pat myself on the back, for what I have achieved so far since the faithful day I lied still on the hospital bed.

Function to both my arm and limb were sorely affected when blood-flow to my brain was cut off during the advent of Stroke. Essentially from then on, my motor-functions are simply switched back to the day when I first learnt to walk as a baby, or it sure felt like it.

My brain remembers "to walk", but the feets do not listen and function as they did. I remembered to hold something with my right-hand (my master-hand, no less), but the fingers could barely grasp at anything, much less having my arm lifted up and being able to grab at anything automatically.

Along with my Stroke, I had lost the ability to speak properly, or breathe and swallow properly (but both conditions did not last long / more on them alters), but my hardest truth I had needed to over-come then, and even now, was the ability to walk free.

Taking everything for granted when I was healthy and walking frantically, the sudden stoppage of traveling by my own steam, was a hard pill to swallow indeed, as I would assume anyone else affected in this area. I remember refusing to feel "crippled", and worked hard in my daily rehab in the hospital wards (when I had regained my strength to). Every morning for a hour or so, I was in the capable efforts of my Physiotherapists in the Changi Hospital Ward 18.

PTs took care to help me regain balance - which was the primarily hit region of function - which directly affected the feet. I hobbled like a baby (or "bear" according to my "size" ;p) and gripped the wall-handles for life, as I step-by-step got back into "shape", and subsequently being able to bathe myself and walk around on a 4-Legged-Walker.

Trust me, being able to bathe yourself is as crucial an imperative as you would be walking. If you can't even take care of yourself in this instance, it would be a much harder walk to take.

It helped that my condition was considered by some to be "mild", so it seems. Hell, just a month before being hospitalized, I was living out my dream and intent of the blog, which was to be able to travel overseas (because of), and to report and see for myself all of which I used to blog about online! But perhaps, thinking back, enjoying the life and times of Thailand and Jakarta, may have well pushed me to the edge of my health :p

(Causes of Stroke, in my instance, included the accumulation of High Blood Pressure, high tension, high cholesterol and an onset of Diabetes - gosh but the food was awesome tho LOL)

Regardless, a month spent in Changi General Hospital led me to being wheelchair-pushed across the bridge to another month in St Andrews Community Hospital. By then, the daily sessions were also the reasons which got me back on my wobbly-feets.

In SACH, every morning (excluding weekends) consisted of physical exercises after breakfast. A hour and a half at PT - training strength of legs, and then another hour and half at OT ("Occupational Therapist"), which essentially trained the motor-functions above the waist.

I had re-learnt to "walk" (aided of course), down corridors ("stumble" be more accurate LOL) and even climb stairs (thank gods for railings!). I had regained the mobility of my right-arm and hand, I could draw and write again. Most of all, I felt itches on my hand and feet, which literally meant I could FEEL again.

Can't decide if that's a good thing or bad. I have had sratch-marks where I might not have felt scratching them previously tho :p

I worked my ass off everyday single day, and came back to the wards with sweat-patches that would make a grown man cry lol ~ I had wanted to walk again damning and no one could stop me!

A week before Christmas day in December 2010, I decided it was time to leave the ward and begin home-stay and recovery. I had felt "well" enough to be bold (as well a financial situation reared it's head there and then, which was sorted before I left the ward) to imagine leading a "new life" outside of the protection of the ward. And I made my decision known.

(There was also a "test" previously, when I had ventured out for a weekend at home, which was the Saturday I had actually visited STGCC in my wheelchair! I had wanted to as well see my reaction to being outside of the ward, and to be in public. It was a hella shellshock I haveta admit, but highyl doable then LOL)

Let there be no doubt, within the ward, you have a small army of folks surrounding you to assist you in anything you needed or wanted (reasonably, of course), as the folks are trained professionals. Most folks do not see that and expect their family at home to be just as effective and attentive. That is a totally false notion.

Fair enough that one condition of home-stay, is that one of the patient's caregiver come to the hospital, and be trained in bathing them, helping them get from bed to wheelchair etc. Everybody takes for granted their own body-weight, but imagine folks smaller than you trying to balance or contain you, is a harder pill to imagine, IMHO.

Out of hospital by Christmas, and back into weekly rehabilitation in February (after a short stint of reprieve and getting fat again urrrgggh), I had to attend two weekly sessions for about an hour and a half each time, split between my OT on Mondays, and PT on Thursdays, and as well a smattering of home-exercises in-between. But truth be told, being self-motivated is a harder challenge. Although ironically enough, during rehab in the wards-era, most folks around me did not seem too concerned with "getting better" and doing their individual exercises ~ which I attribute to a sheer lack of interest physiologically in attaining their life back. Most folks seem to wallow in despair and choose instead to make do with what they were dealt with - which makes it even harder for me to be energized about = no one to work out with! lol

I have since then learnt to "zone out" and block everyone out while I do my exercises, and just carry on with my own rehab - the trouble being sometimes I over-exert myself, and my aching body constantly reminds me of that lapse LOL

In a way, I have also learnt to be more selfish than usual, as no one will help me get any better (beyond my PTs and OTs) except for myself, and of course educating my family with what is happening to me and my body, which I constantly do. I reckon loads of folks need to be able to communicate with their families as well, or all they can do, is buy you a better wheelchair and provide you amenities, but do not actually know how you are doing physically. Fair enough some patients have a hard time verbalizing, or even "talking", but it pays to work out hints and clues to whatever feelings and situations may permit. It will only do you good, and no harm, IMHO.

I reckon most of the "domestic help" assisting the older folks at rehab, may well know better about their ward, than their actual family does. But that is just conjunction on my part, and it is not and never will be my place to pry.

Two months at home, I had travelled around in public on a rented wheelchair, and hobbled around at home without aids. Perhaps it is familiarity at the home front, but I felt more safe going around at home, than at al in public places. In time, I walked free in the rehab area as well, as frankly, I felt protected by the staff around me.

In reality, the sense of "being protected" is well attached to one's ability to be able to walk, and once you regain that ability - in whatever level - you will feel you have regain independence, and hence the notion to be able to protect yourself (from falling etc), and you'll be more at peace with what is needed to be done, to get better. I know I did, and still do.

Walking fast or slow, is redundant if you do not have "balance", and I have since realized that is most important, as there IS strength in my limbs, but being able to control them and so whatever I want with them whenever? Therein lies the rub … Any semblance of metaphors related to "life" and the balance of, I remain both skeptical and as well highly appreciative of though :)

Fast forward to end of March, scant five months after my Stroke in end-October 2010, I had made my way to the cinema on Thursday last (to view Sucker Punch, right after my weekly morning-rehab!), and wandered around Marina Bay Sands on Sunday - all with a walking stick (and a whole lotta rests on seats in-between LOL).

The downside of it all, is I recognize I tend to stumble around moreso than I ever did before, perhaps regaining my "speed" is not an indication I have my life from before back at full-steam. And the fear that I have begun to "make do" with whatever ability to walk I have had, actually worries me quite a bit. But regardless, I still try to keep myself in check, as ultimately, it is only me who knows what's capable to be achieved for myself (although my trainers have other plans for me LOL).

Ironically, I had not been much of a supporter of walking canes, having remember something my PY mentioned during my stay in Changi, that she did not want me to develop a "slanted-gait" while walking with a cane. Months later, I embrace the cane, and as well relish the day I can chuck it away and walk free again, and maintain balance, and yes, to travel overseas (if I can afford to anyways).

I'm looking at July for Taipei Toy Festival, and maybe a September walkabout in United Kingdom - but perhaps yes, I am getting ahead of myself again … I will be looking forward to another trip (and more) to the cinemas, bummed-eye be damned! (Now THAT is another post for another day!). And as I near always reply when folks ask about my health = *Rehab Continues* ~ because in all truth and honesty, it still does :)


  1. I can actually believe you'll be going to TW in July. Walking or on all fours LOL. Obviously I would love to see you going to TW in the best physical condition.

    If anything what I did learn from you, is to really go balls out for what you love to do and should be doing.