The Long Walk to Recovery

Posted by martin parnell |

In my last blog, which appreared in early February, I wrote about a holiday Sue and I had taken to Cuba. A lot has happened since then. In late February, I made a trip to Winnipeg, to give a presentation. Whilst there, I was taken ill and ended up in the Emergency Room at Grace Hospital. A scan revealed that I had an extensive blood clot, in my brain and I was diagnosed with “Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis”. I was transferred to the Health Sciences Center and what started out as an overnight trip turned into a two week stay.

 Sue flew out and sat at my bedside. At first I was heavily sedated and on large doses of pain relief. Meanwhile, the doctors set about finding the right levels of medication to thin my blood, get my high blood pressure under control and reduce the amount of spinal fluid that had accumulated in my brain.

My vision had been severely affected, due to pressure on my optic nerve and I had great difficulty concentrating. But, eventually, it was decided the best place for me would be back in Alberta, as Rockyview Hospital is deemed to be a center of excellence for dealing with my type of condition, which is very rare, only 5 in a million.

Back in Cochrane, I was having daily blood work and visits to the doctor, to track the effectiveness of my medications, ten a day, in all.

On March 27th I spent an hour with Dr Subramanium, a neuro-ophthalmologist at Rockyview. His expertise is in the effects of strokes and other brain disorders.

He explained that the clot had started to grow in late January and, if it had gone untreated for another week, I would have been in a coma, or worse. The clot had put pressure on the optical nerve causing double vision. I asked the specialist a number of questions about what physical activities I could or could not do. He explained that the long term prognosis is good but, at the moment, I am unable to run, swim, bike or drive. He said the one thing I could do was walk.

I started with a 3 km walk following a route in the West End of Cochrane up to the Heartland development, and around West Pointe. I then got up to 5km with an out and back to the railway bridge. By the end of March I was up to 8km per day, adding a section along the Bow River. This distance was taking me around 1 hour 40 minutes and I found that with a pace of 100 steps per minute I was covering 10,000 steps.

This is a good daily target and with all the medical restrictions I have it makes me feel better physically, mentally and spiritually. It’s the one thing that I have control over.

Walking together, Sue and I have covered a large section of the pathway system in Cochrane. Out to the East End and the zig-zag, “San Francisco” street: across the old trestle bridge and up into Riviera and River Song or out to the Ranche House and up to Fosters. It’s great to see the town crews installing the new bridges over the creeks and paving old sections of the red rock pathway to allow year round use.

After my diagnosis I’m looking at things a little different now. The seriousness of it was brought home to us when on April 13th. Sue’s Dad, collapsed and died from a massive stroke. I have to watch certain things in my diet, take frequent naps and monitor my blood pressure. My eyesight is still affected and I still have double vision, but I am able to read for a short while if I wear a patch.

 I’m loving the walking and, as Sue says, “It’s just slow running”.

If you see me on the pathways, give me a wave and I’ll be sure to wave back, ‘though I may be seeing two of you!

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