Mobility and Dexterity

Two aspects of a human condition that is somewhat affected by the onset of Stroke. "Mobility" and "Dexterity".

Basically different folks are affected in different levels of ability - as Stroke effects are different from person to person. There is not an exact catch-all chart or anything like that to read from, but there are general guidelines for doctors' and rehab specialists' actions for.

Some folks need a wheelchair for the rest of their life - for lack of mobility or even dexterity - and some, well, their dexterity is affected in someway that they cannot deny.


Lying in the Stroke Acute Ward for a month, and recovery ward for another month, I have seen different folks affected differently by Stroke. Some folks walk around like nothing ever happened (more brain-problems than physical problems) and some need a wheelchair or a walking aid to move around.

I remember regaining consciousness after a few hours of being under (or rather "under observation" for a limited time before folks feel i could recover or go under the knife) and the subsequent days to be quite a mindscrew. I remember walking, i remember jumping, skipping and all the things "regular" folks do on a daily basis - but my limbs "did not remember" any of that. I could hardly put one feet in from of the other, much less be able to go to the toilet on my own, or even shower myself. I couldn't even stand up straight while holding unto a side railing in a hospital corridor. This lasted for a few weeks.

And for weeks after "re-educating" the limbs, had i also gained the strength to carrying on with daily exercises, to reach a point where i can walk myself to the toilet, take a shower standing up, and get up and about with my walking cane (and my chaperone aka "Dad") to my acupuncture and (former) rehab sessions.

But these are the general broadstrokes that are visible immediate to the eye - as is the way i "walk" - with a slightly tilt or as the medical practitioners say "gait" - I walk not like a normal person would, but with a slight feeling as if something is wrong my legs (which loads of strangers had actually attributed to an accident involving my legs) or i am a struggling "drunk". Some folks walk with a very obvious gait, like broader legs apart and affecting the torso and entire body rhythm.

Regardless of how we walk, i reckon we (or at least "me") is bloody happy I can walk in any instance, innit?

And a lot of the issues which affect such mobility, is that a portion of the brain, had been affected by the blood clot or bursting, when the blood flow to the brain is affected, as in the case of Stroke. The region of the nape/neck s where most problems happen, and a whole lot of time - for the physically disabled - is the "balance" of the person, is affected.


You need balance for basically everything you do, that involves you standing up and being mobile. And it is not just walking a straight line (I still have trouble doing that now), it is also other simpler things in life folks take for granted. I use myself and my abilities (or lack thereof) as an example here:

1. Standing on one leg balanced for more than 2 seconds. I am improving but not great. As with most Stroke, one side of the body is affected - in my case, the "Stroke-side" is right, where both my right leg and arms was/is affected. My master-arm is the right-arm, so you can imagine my freakout (more on that later below under "dexterity").

2. Walking Up or Down steps. Up is never much of a problem (with or without side-handles) but am working on my walking-down without side-handles. And it is a slow walk, as at moments in time, one leg would be suspended above while the other takes over the weight, right? Hence, "balance".

3. Crossing over a curb or bump. Again, same issue of balance, but in the middle of nowhere, there is no side-railing to hold unto - hence my walking stick comes in handy. These days i tend to maneuver around/over obstacles like this without much fuss (but for the fear of falling flat on my face of course hahaha) but tis conquerable, nevertheless. You think walking and crossing over the raised step in the HBD toilet doorway is "easy"?

4. Closing my eyes and standing with one-leg-in-front-of-another. Try it yourselves and see how it is. I cannot do it for more than 5-8 seconds (or less) as the feeling of falling is ever present and is a tangible situation happening.

Because of the lack of balance, or the uncontrollable aspect of such, a lot of folks tend to "fall" - especially happens for older folks. Although this is not exclusive to Stroke, the ability to be stable affects older folks as well - but with Stroke - it is an added risk.

I have heard numerous stories and recollections of old folks who fall, after leaving rehab (or even during, but specifically at home), dislocate their hip, or other parts, and it is heart-breaking. I am also wary that even tho I might be able to waddle around like a drunk man - because that IS literally how I look like and feel like moving about - there is also the fear of falling or taking a misstep, and getting all the issues back up again.

For sure folks can say: "Take That Step Forward!" - but for the lack of balance skills, how can folks dare be able to "right" themselves as easily as healthy, able-bodied folks do?

But of course try, day to day, step by agonizing step.


When Stroke happened, it affected my right-side of the body, which meant my master-hand (which was the right hand) was affected severely initially. Some folks (including myself) pretend to act like a spastic-person and cup their hands to represent that - and that is not wrong. Besides the obvious bodily-mobility, dexterity might also be affected, with the "cupped hand"one of the more recognizable effects.

I remember not even being to hold unto something with my hand, much less be able to draw, or even write. Through time I was lucky in such that i can hold and draw, and even trained myself to write unlike a small kid would, and write in a decent-ish straight line/s. I have a notebook filled with essays (written during my months stay in rehab-recovery) to show the change.

And being able to type with both hands (yes I do that lol) is a relief, although I have not been able to hold a pen or ink s steadily as I used to - which disturbs me greatly, but I shall not complain as I am still able to scribble.

Being able to hold my own fork and spoon is also a relished ability (although my chopstick work leaves much to be desired), and seeing some other folks who are unable to even feed themselves, I am grateful I can.

I remember "tests" in the hospital, where groups of us would sit around to test our eating abilities - aka the level of foods were are able to swallow and chew, like porridge and oats (which everybody can) to chewing on meats and vegetables, and being able to swallow them. I remember aching to have solid foods, but struggled to hold a spoon, much less a fork lol

But yes, not long after i gobbled down hospital food like manna, and no they do not "suck" as most folks think - they just are not as "yummy" as you expect normal food you are used to be. what? You need to fill yourself with energy so you can exercise it off, don't you? LOL

These days, I wander around my own house freely and without a walking cane as when I am at my rehab center as well - more probably because I feel "safe" within the boundaries of the space, and able to maneuver around any known bumps or barriers, as opposed to the whole wide world outside now - which I move around with a walking cane - not for walking, but for balancing myself, and helping me conquer said hums and steps.

"Going out for a drink, or chat with friends", or heading off for a movie, is something I miss dearly in my life - and is something that I still strive to achieve, given time. Folks these days ask to meet me out for a drink or sum-such activities like i'm all fine and dandy - which i cannot blame them for, as they either do not know my condition enough, or simply do not deem important to find out if i am able to int he first place. Both irks me and leaves me disappointed, but hey, who is to know if i do not say anything?

Ironically with my pre-Stroke days being a literal hermit (for 5 years, i kept to myself in real-life versus online, and remained single for that long a time as well, until now lol), these days i am actually more active in leaving the house, moreso than ever before (even if tis only for rehab and acupuncture hahaha).

This coming late-ish August, I will have a massive task ahead of me: Walking around Suntec City for the Singapore Toy, Games and ComicCon. Last year, I had my sister wheeling me around in my rental wheelchair - this year? I'm walking in with my walking cane, laptop-bag slung around me and struggling with one hand on a cane, and the other on my digital camera (and possibly handling my mobile phone - urgh) - although I have to seriously consider I need a chaperone with me … currently I am still stubborn enough to do it tho haha …

This morning, i sat down on the floor to get at something, and then later struggled to get up by myself without holding unto anything - believe you me, that was a massive act that I do not look forward to doing again - but in actuality, it just serves to remind me there is a HUGE way more to go, before I dare claim my own "independence" - something which I took for granted, before it all.

There had been a plan to visit jolly old England in late-September-early-October, where my sis is going to visit her mates and attend a wedding, and I would go along and perhaps seek out friends in UK who would be willing to meet or even host me (and I would be celebrating my birthday there too - yay!) but the reality is, I can hardly even carry the weight of myself, much less my own luggage, so how the heck dare i claim i can move around as i think I can?

this notion saddens me more than i'll ever be able to express tho.

I am trying to regain my "rhythm", and that also includes being able to step on an escalator without the fear of falling! So i guess recovery is indeed a literal step at a time, for both physically, and mentally - beyond just my own abilities, as well as for all recovering Stroke patients. And sometimes, "patience" might not be enough, but for an understanding, or even an assured holding of one's ahdns as he/she crosses a seemingly negligible hurdle, which might be a massive hurdle to his/her own life, and surviving it.



i remember my doctors and therapists said to me while i was being wheeled out of the hospital circa Christmas Eve in 2010: "Be thankful you have great family and have friends' support" (or a derivation thereof - i was happy just to get out of there lol)

And that is something that holds true, in my life right now.

Since getting out of hospital-stay, i have moved from out of the need for a wheelchair, to a 4-legged walking-crutch (which has become a makeshift clothes-hanger muahahaha), to now waddling like a drunk-man around with a walking stick (that one moment during Father's Day, when i walked out of the house forgetting to get my cane, was a sign of great things to happen lol), is an improvement i cannot and will not deny. i am just elfin happy i can 'walk', ya know?! LOL

As much effort as I put in to my self-recovery, I am also grateful and accept the power of "support" from my family, and folks who "care" about me. "Support" could range from simple silent embrace, to inactivity, or simply offering kind missives. These are powerful tools to aid in the spirit of the recovery ("Religion" notwithstanding) and of providing the mindset of the recoveree in question. Folks might not be verbal enough to say it out loud, but trust me - it DOES have an effect, and even sometimes, an 'impact'.

I will not venture into delving into the mindsets and family-histories of the folks i share my rehabilitation sessions with - but sometimes (very rarely tho) i might overhear a healthy-family member deriding the patient his/her lack of recovering and effort taken in recovery … like THAT would encourage the person from laboring forth? Does the power of "Guilt" outweigh the possibility of "Hope"? Again, that is "their" life unknown to my comprehension - but you know where I'm getting at.

People tend to forget that folks who survived Stroke, were not looking to be downed by Stroke in the first place - as are any other ailment or physical-health issues (but then again, I never had been the "healthy-one" in the first instance ~ hee ;p), but be sure a heck of folks might have been put into the rollercoaster-ride of GUILT, isn't it?

Frankly, I had never been what you call an "optimist". I used to relish dwelling in the negatives, and from my previous work, I had nadvertently learnt to look at the things in the negative - with problems to be solved first - then see the sunny rainbow at the end of the dark clouds. (One of the reasons why I left, i surmise). But post-Stroke? I have learnt to embrace the notion of positivity, for that is one of the most important "attributes" i have against conquering my own limited disabilities.

i am not strong because i am. i am strong because i have to be.

my family support provides me with the strength to carry on fighting. my dreams provide me with a future to fight for. and my friends' support provide me with the ammunition needed to continue on the day-to-day survival against my own mental-battles, and my own lack of physical abilities.

sitting in a chair for the whole day typing into a laptop does not constitute who i am, but unfortunately is the only aspect of my current abilities i have more control over. so frankly, i hope you can understand my main priority right now is making my life better by recovering.

my own aged father - who himself survived a heart by-pass 5 years ago - is now taking care (mostly) of my day-to-day physical affairs, and chaperones me to rehab and acupuncture sessions - offers me both the physical and mental support, as does the rest of the family - and are a strength beyond any mere explanation i can afford - to aid in my recovery.

Most folks do not ask for help. More folks than you know do not ask for support. And what you do, or not - affects the person around you. I am not (and never will be) asking you to sprout rainbow-flowers and shower the earth with blessings and happiness - i am asking you to perhaps consider first what your actions and words do to others (regardless of whatever consequences it may ensue afters - for that is out of you control in the first place) before you take a step forward.

And all i can do personally, is to cherish and support folks in turn who have been, and are kind to me and have continued to support me, wherever they may be (online or physical), and learn to turn away from the ones who do not give a shit, because you sure as hell ain't doing much to aid my recovery! LOL

BP Issues

I have not been attending my rehabilitation sessions for over three weeks now. The reason is deceptively simple: My BP / Blood Pressure levels are now too high.

This has not always been the case.

And while folks do not dare claim it is beyond safety levels (or I'd seriously be in trouble), it is affecting how my recovery journey is to be now.

My BP levels are checked each time before I commence my rehab sessions at the center (twice a week, all in the mornings) and if a certain tolerance level is maintained, I can continue forth to sweat myself out in the vain hopes to recover from my Stroke-effects.

But recently, my BP levels are above the tolerant levels, and I find myself sitting and waiting, hopefully mt BP will go down, so i can join the rest of the other old folks in exercise. i joke with some of them that they were more "healthy" than me to be able to exercise even! It was funny for all of a coupla times, then afters, it was not so funny anymore. In fact, I have no doubt the waiting game affected my BP levels as well.

There was a short period of time when my BP levels were optimum only in the afternoons, while mornings and nights saw it on the higher side. And so I attempted to switch my rehab sessions to the afternoons, ya know? But the next thing I knew, the BP levels became an issue in the afternoons as well - so that plan is now bust!

I am not a patient man. I do not think I've ever been. Although having Stroke initially had shown me the value of patience - but thru time, i have regained my impatience for situations and folks. Waiting impatiently for a email reply for two days perhaps is tolerable (especially when folks choose to tweet and FB) but waiting for a month for an interview to be replied to, does not send my blood-pressure-levels into bliss, you know? Or maybe I should stop blogging altogether and recover first? Hell, i KNOW i will be too impatient for that! LOL

As of this morning (I check everyday, three times a day) - the levels hit the roof - which frankly scares me to effin-bits, as this condition has had, for the past few weeks.

No one is able to provide a tangible answer for recovery. Oh sure there have been a number of "whys" - like weight-gain (i stopped smoking and drinking coffee, and in lieu munched) or even lack of sleep (*cough-TTF+SDCC-cough*) - which frankly I wholeheartedly accept the reasons for (in lieu of the lack of other tangible medical factors) and because frankly, I do not want to self-medicate and leave my future in the hands of "professionals".

Sure there was a slight up in dosage of my western pills, but it sure ain't working! And if "weight-gain" is one of the main reasons, therein lies the painful rub.

I cannot go to rehab and hope to loose weight if i am not allowed to exercise past the BP levels. I dare not even use the spanking new exercise-bike/machine we have at home now, due to this reason. I am not a "hero" out to prove everyone "wrong" in their assumptions, because simply put, the rules are there for a reason in the first place.

I have reached a point now in recovery, that i no longer worry if i can ever walk free again (i feel i have already hit a plateau that i can no longer cross the hurdle of recovery for - but that' another mindfrak for another post), i am just plain scared i'll get downed by Stroke again.

Yes folks, not to alarm you all, but once you get Stroke, there is a likelihood you'll get downed by it again - although timewise, there is never a particular reference-point (or so i'm told). And what are one of the deadly causes for Stroke again? High Blood Pressure.

So besides fearing for my life - which shouldn't really be the case, as no one else medically seem to be fearful off (*crosses-fingers*) - tis more an innate frustration I have with the situation now - as NO ONE is able to afford a resolution!

And imagine the frustration I have now, is to be able to only blog about it.

Where Western medicine has failed me now, I will have no choice but to turn to Eastern suggestions. Simply put, I need to get my BP down, so I am able to exercise (and personally feel safe about it) and convince myself somehow I am on the path to recovery, because right about now, I am sitting at home and facing the BP-monitor and hoping for a better BP is like waiting for gloss ingots to fall into my lap from the sky.

Funnily enough (okay fine, NOT so funny) in writing this post, my BP has no doubt risen a few knotches - because I write with my heart, not with my brain - and stirring these issues up - is perhaps not as helpful to my condition as I had expected it to be LOL

Mental Health

In a confluence of situations prior, i had found myself sitting in the patient's chair in the office of a clinical "mental-health" expert (whose official name for, has escaped me - for that I apologize) in the hospital, for which I was referred to (no doubt simply because I blew my top at an attending doctor who did not seem to be able to offer any reasons for my malady - another post about that soon).

And then I had subsequently spent an hour and a half (yes, time was indeed measured at my end, as was the doctor's wrist-watch she was constantly referring to, which i conveniently ignored) yakking on about my life, my Stroke, my life after having Stroke, my blog, and what contests I was planning to hold on my blog (in that order). And while i dare say i had (nearly) a clean-bill of mental-health (no, there is no actual paperwork available to me to claim such ;p), one thing was mentioned (when she had a chance to have a word in edgewise) was that perhaps I should update my Stroke-blog (which you are reading now).

I had mentioned I had started a blog for Stroke, and was pretty diligent in updating it with info about both my own recovery, which in turn was to more importantly "educate" folks about the effects and recovery of Stroke (moreso than regaling about my own health, I insist!). But this blog has been left un-updated as of late, simply because I had developed into a stage of recovery, that this blog begun to remind me more about my Stroke - and the nasty effects that had gone along with the memory of - with it.

Recovery thus far has been … "spotty", with a number of speed-bumps along the way (more on that in another post, promise!) and perhaps I had let my own personal feelings affect this blog - which as of right now, with this very post - I have learnt to reconcile with, simply because this blog is mine to maintain, as much as this life i have now, is mine to lead.

I had actually asked a couple of folks to add to this blog, about their own journey of both recovery and taking car of folks - but you know what? I should just do this on my own, as there will be less expectations disappointed, and perhaps a more focused journey of a single person would be more effective in this regard.

Hell, I'm not a medical practitioner, and frankly the last thing i need to be doing is "self-medicate" - and leave my health to the experts that know better … ah but when the experts cannot help? … now, THAT'S another post coming u sometime soon …


And while might be clear of my objectives and aims, not necessarily all folks downed by physical illness might feel the same. I can imagine folks feeling depressed, and even suicidal - because let's face it - being in Stroke is not like an illness you can just take medicine and "get better".

The physical recovery is "hardest". Some folks grapple with lack of speech abilities, and even worse still physical disabilities. I remember when my legs could not put themselves one in front of each other, when my mind remember they can. I remember peeing into a container (while in hospital bed) because I had not the ability to walk myself to the toilet - barely 6 metros away from my hospital bed. Hell, I remember looking at my own crotch and seeing the pee-patch grown larger while being unable to control my bowels! If that does not fuckup your thoughts, hey, do not know what will. I am thankful now I can take my own showers, walk about (with a walking cane) and can make my own way to the toilet at home (even tho the newly discovered diabetes makes me getup at 6am in the mornings to go take a leek).

Physical recovery for any Stroke patient, takes a certain amount of time.No Stroke recovery might be timed exactly like the other, as no particular Stroke by individuals might be exactly similar to the others. There are a myriad forms of Stroke-effects to be had, even of the symptoms might be similar.

I know of someone who has been in rehab for a span of over a year. I myself had been in rehab for nearly 5 months now (when I was self-confident enough to think 3 would do it - well, here's egg in my face!) and frankly, I have learnt it is a "marathon", not a "sprint". And the only other reason why we need to give a timeline to it, is (A) the cost of rehab, and (B) the ability of the family to go along with it.

But what is most important in this equation, is the mental ability of the recovering patient, to continue with this timeline - and NOT feel useless, being a burden, feeling helpless.

A lot of Stroke patients are elderly folks. And with a lack of a strong family structure and support, do you really think they have the mental fortitude to continue working forth, and not feel being "a burden, useless and helpless"? Especially for Asian families, and I am not being racist here - just pure simple observations.

But in actual fact, I have begun to see even younger folks being downed by Stroke. There a guy aged 34, and another aged 31 in my (former) rehab sessions. One os married (bumped into him and his wife at an exhibition in town not too long ago too lol) and the other has a one year old daughter. So "age" is no longer exclusive to Stroke. As is the mental stress of it, without a doubt.

"Mental Recovery" is a conundrum, for without the basis of fortitude and tenacity, or even a will to survive and thrive for the future, hell, the road will indeed be long an arduous! And sometimes. that "mental recovery" is not alone for the patients to bare - sometimes folks around them provide them that strength, to carry on with the recovery, with being "whole" again.

And while I am in no medical position to infer what IS good mental health, I reckon it is the ability to survive the long-haul, the strength of not giving up and giving in, and the sheer tenacity to go forth and rehabilitate. No one else will make you miraculousy "better" (Religious folks will not agree with me here ;p) besides you working on to rehabilitate yourselves. Just know that that journey is not you and yours alone to tread - for you need folks around you to support you, and perhaps aid in any way for you to carry on your task.