Lifestyle Features

The Rose Who Blossomed Despite Her Stroke

Post on 09/04/17


Grit and tenacity are often required when recovering from a stroke. Physiotherapist Jane Gee shares about one such inspiring Survivor who had them in spades!

roses-360433_1280As a physiotherapist, I have worked with many Stroke Survivors over the years. But one special individual in particular stands out. She is a lady I met two years ago, and then again six months later. Mrs Rose (not her real name) was 81-years-old, had been the chief homemaker, and was heavily involved in a number of volunteer positions in her community. Mrs. Rose was also a Stroke Survivor, and her first stroke had affected the strength and movement of the right side of her body as well as her speech.

Mrs Rose worked hard during each therapy session to regain her sitting balance and safe transfers, and despite her age, I could see the determination in Mrs. Rose’s eyes. Despite her frustration, I was inspired by Mrs. Rose’s awareness of her fatigue levels and was able to clearly indicate when she was finished for the day or could work harder. This is a skill I have found a lot of stroke survivors battle with; because they want to get better already, they end up pushing and pushing themselves. As admirable as it seems, this is often to the detriment of their recovery, as their body does not have time to adjust and recover from the activity; they can become ill as a result of the overwork. As a Stroke Survivor will tell you, fatigue is not when you suddenly feel tired and need to lie down, it is when you physically and emotionally cannot process anymore. Before this happens, you need to take time out for your body and mind to regroup and reflect on the progress made.

One day, when reviewing Mrs Rose’s goals, I asked how she felt she was getting on and if there was anything she wanted to work on more. To my surprise, she said that she wanted to return to the local museum to volunteer. All I could think of were the barriers, and so I suggested first making a visit to the museum to see what would be manageable. With support from her family we organised day-leave and she went to visit the museum. Meanwhile, the therapy team brainstormed.

On her return from the museum, she had decided she still wanted to help with the museum tours. And, well, three months later she had returned home and was completing the museum tours, for the most part in her wheelchair with another volunteer pushing her and with extra speech aids to support her when she could not find the right words. Her determination and dedication was amazing and truly inspiring!

Mrs Rose did go on to have a second stroke, unfortunately, and is now confined to a wheelchair and hoist. She also developed further problems with her memory. However, Mrs Rose was not to be deterred, and she once again returned to the museum to volunteer. Despite her challenges, she is now part of a two act team taking on the bi-weekly tours. What tenacity!

I also wanted to mention her husband who was magnificent at taking on the domestic roles of the house. Judging by his clothes, it was obvious that it took him a few weeks to work out how the iron worked! My favourite moment was when my occupational therapist colleague invited Mr Rose to join the kitchen therapy session while Mrs Rose was being assessed on making soup. I noticed Mr Rose taking notes and the following week appeared to have a familiar smell coming from his thermos cup!

As a teenager, Jane watched a close family member recover following a stroke. She developed a keen interest in supporting others to regain their full potential after a life-changing event such as a neurological diagnosis. On obtaining her physiotherapy degree in Scotland, she decided to specialise in Neurological Physiotherapy in Surrey and Central London. Jane has worked with a wide variety of clients from the sub-acute, rehabilitation and maintenance phases post-stroke. She has further qualifications in the Bobath Method and APPI clinical pilates. Jane is a UK registered Physiotherapist.

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