Stroke Survivor Series: In the Hospital
Part five of the Stroke Survivor Series
The clean environment of the ICU envelops you as you enter from the IR suite. The medical team surrounds you in a controlled chaos. They move you from the gurney onto the bed, connect IVs and get reports from the previous nursing staff. Here is where the battle against the aftermath of your stroke truly begins. Wires and tubes crisscross all around you, connecting you to a myriad of monitors and machines. Every vital sign is diligently monitored and recorded. The continuous beeping and rhythmic hum fill the air. The digital clock on the wall glows 9:45 PM.
The ICU doctor comes and evaluates you. You seem to be feeling better than you were a few hours ago. The physician is encouraged that you have improved movement in your arm and leg. She explains that you will be kept in the ICU overnight and watched very closely. The nurses do frequent checks on you, adjusting medications and monitoring your neurological status. Their presence provides a sense of security amidst the uncertainty that looms in the aftermath of the stroke.
Between the twilight of the monitors and beeping of the various pumps, alerts, and monitors you lose track of time and doze off. The night turns into day, only when the ICU doctor returns to let you know that you are stable enough to move out of the ICU, do you notice the daylight coming through the window. Eventually you are transferred to an inpatient unit, where the healing process continues. While you can now move your right arm and leg better, you still have difficulty walking and keeping balance. Sometimes the words won’t come out the way you want them to and you can’t say what you want to say. The physicians on your team order more testing to evaluate for things that could’ve caused a stroke. A neurologist evaluates you, and you get more MRIs and an echocardiogram. You are started on new blood pressure and high cholesterol medications.
The journey in the inpatient unit is marked by a blend of challenges and triumphs. Therapists, dieticians, social workers, and many more lend their expertise in helping you improve as you regain your strength. Visitors come and go, their familiar faces bringing comfort and reminding you that you are not alone on this arduous path. Your family has been a constant source of strength.
As the days stretch into a week, small victories accumulate against the disappointments of your healing body. You are better than you were before, but still aren’t able to fully take care of yourself. Each step forward gives you hope, affirming that with time, resilience, and the unwavering support of the healthcare team and loved ones, a meaningful recovery is within reach. You discuss with your doctors the next steps in your recovery journey. Because you still have difficulties being independent and still need help performing daily tasks, they recommend a rehabilitation center. As you leave the hospital, you are grateful for the progress you’ve made, but nervous about what the future holds.