Today is Day 32 since Brandon's stroke. It is beginning to sound repetitive, but it is still true, he is improving daily. When people talked about going to physical or occupational therapy I used to immediately assume it was needed due to something not being right with the muscles. I was wrong (not totally, but mostly). I may still be wrong, but the following is my understanding of this situation. In Brandon's case, the therapy is to assist in re-establishing the connection between the brain and muscles. The muscles still know what to do but they aren't receiving the signals from the brain telling them what to do, such as walking, raising arm, etc. The remarkable, mostly misunderstood brain, is frantically re-wiring itself to avoid the places which were damaged by the stroke. Humans are fortunate that we only use a small part of our brain. Maybe God made portions of it as spare parts to be used in such a "re-wiring" situation like this. It seems a lot of the re-wiring happens at night during sleep. I guess that makes sense, because as some bodily systems slow down at night, that releases more resources for the brain to use in it's re-wiring work.
Specifically, Brandon is now able to walk anywhere by himself and is able to stand still for longer periods of time. That may sound minor, but just imagine the amount of work the brain and muscles do to keep you in balance while standing. As the doctors and PT's said, the leg and foot are coming along at a faster pace than the arm/hand. He is able to raise his hand up about half way to the elevation of a normal handshake. That is significantly more than just last week. He is able to grasp the hand of another person or a doorknob with enough force to twist the doorknob or grip a hand. This is way more than just a few days ago and is the part that is improving more rapidly each day. He is able to drive himself anywhere and is using his right foot to control the gas. That right foot was not able to even move a few weeks ago but is now able to move gently enough to control the amount of gas being given to the truck. The importance of this can not be overstated. It not only shows the amount of improvement in the leg/foot but also provides Brandon the freedom of being able to come and go as his own free-will dictates. That freedom helps heal the soul. To be restricted to one place and having to rely on others for your movements, etc has to wear on a person after a while.
To add an exclamation point to his improvement and freedom: Brandon drove himself to Shreveport to return his wheelchair to the medical supply company. He relied on that wheelchair for his movements as little as 2 weeks ago. While in Shreveport, he dropped by the hospital to visit with the PT's and OT's that first worked with him in the days after his stroke. The last they saw of him was 3 weeks ago when he was still confined to the wheelchair and could only walk a little bit while using a walker and someone holding on. This time they saw him walk from the parking lot, through the hospital to the Physical Therapy department. Pretty good, uh?
Brandon has maintained a mostly positive attitude throughout this whole ordeal. He has shown his family and friends the way a person should perform when dealt a bad hand in life. He has become an inspiration to many around him and some who barely know him. His determination and lack of self-pity is impressive to all. Yeah, I know, he's my son and I'm biased, but when it's the truth it isn't biased, right?
I was able to drive around a little bit to get some pictures of the area.
It is located about 7 miles or so to the east of the campground. It looks much better than the last time I saw it. It is a man-made lake built in the 1950's (I think).
At the time of construction, the lake was deeper, but due to excessive silt build-up and lack of dredging, it has become much more shallow. So shallow that it promoted the growth of vegetation that began to choke the lake. When it was at it's weakest, it was invaded by the Giant Salvinia plants which has killed many lakes in the south. I've been away for a while so I don't know what remediation was performed on the lake, but it appears to be working.
This picture is of the typical roadway in this part of the country.
The trees grow so high on each side of the road that you can only see straight ahead, straight back or directly overhead. It is almost like driving through a tunnel.
It is completely different than most places out west where you can see for unlimited distances in all directions.
Ya'll take care of each other. Cya down the road.