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.