Steve Giese woke up in the morning and could tell something was not right. He sat up on the edge of his bed and felt a little funny. He began to walk, but he felt unsteady and fell down. He couldn't understand what was going on......Steve was having a stroke.
"I laid there, my head was spinning. I thought, "I have to get to the phone", so I stood up and fell down. I tried to call but couldn't push the right numbers. My brain was telling me I was having a problem, but I didn't know why. I felt very tired so I laid there with the phone in my hand. Eventually, my son called, but I remained unable to talk. My son called my other son who came to my house and called 911."
On the way to the hospital and in the Emergency Room I could recall everything, but I still couldn't make any "sense" as to what was going on. I was confused, I didn't know what was happening and couldn't understand. But, I could tell something was very bad and I was in trouble. I was afraid then- I was mad- I didn't want to live.
All of my family was at the hospital - I was trying to talk but the word would not come out. In my brain I could tell what was going on, but I did not understand. I found that my right hand and arm did not work, within one day I couldn't do anything. "I just wanted out. It took me three days to calm down enough where I could understand that people were trying to help me. It was Dr. Chin though that really got through to me. He said, "You have to decide if you want to live or die. It is up to you. If you want to be better than I can help you, if you won't help yourself then I can't help you. If you do what I tell you, I'll help you. First, you have to get stronger."
The turning point
I spent one month in the hospital and progressed to outpatient rehabilitation. I did all three therapies, physical, occupational and speech. When I first got home I couldn't remember things very well. Even the simple things such as saying my name or telling time. I didn't even know where my hand was in relationship to my whole body!
My occupational therapist, Sue, helped me with the exercises for my hand. In time, I was able to use my hand better. I knew I always wanted to be normal again. My speech therapist, Linda, helped me to know I was normal again. I could look at her eyes and could know that I was normal and I was going to get better."
Linda, speech therapist, indicated Steve is the hardest worker, excellent in follow through and never wavered. Steve's family and friends were there in the beginning, but they did not always understand what Steve meant or really how the stroke was impacting him. It is very difficult for others to know what it is like.
Today Steve participates in Aphasia and Stroke Support Group, he attends a group on Fridays that plays cards, board games and socializes. These things as well as other community activities continue to help him recover. He is first to say, "Family support is so important to a stroke survivor's recovery. It is important to stay together, because it helps the survivor and no one family member/friend can do it all alone. They need to help each other."