Gloria Ferris

one woman’s view from a place by the zoo in the city

Archive for the ‘Strokes’ tag

Chronic Illness Recovery-One Step At a Time

with 4 comments

Today I emptied the dishwasher and I filled it all at once. First time, in ten years that I did not take a 20 minute rest between the two tasks. It is now one task again. This is not to say that when the humidity is high or my back screams to me that I need to sit down, put up my feet and read a book I will not listen. I will and once gain feel like the slow tortoise I have become.

Still, I think I took a good step forward-no longer facing the task with dread, but with the knowledge I can do it.

Ten years ago, I had a massive heart attack and three strokes. I had no use of my left side. I could not walk. I could not feed myself. I could not negotiate going to the bathroom by myself. Before that point, my husband and daughters were told I had a negative 17% chance of living. I had been unconscious. I had not responded to light or to many other triggers used in assessment..

I don’t tell this for sympathy, empathy or anything else but simply to tell you that I understand the struggle people have when recovering from heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. Yes, cancer. During all of this, I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Luckily, it was a very early detection so that learning to walk could come first. Then, I could wait the 90 days needed to recover from the heart attack and participate in cardio rehabilitation so that I would be stronger when the surgery happened.

All of this background leads me to today when I accomplished something that many of us take to be a given- unloading and loading the dishwasher.  It does us good to remember to be grateful and thankful for what we have every day of our lives because in a wink of an eye all that can change.

My point is not to be depressing but to let everyone know that should a chronic illness come your way it is not necessary to stop living or stop working toward goals. When you look back to yesterday, and believe me, look back one day.  Do not look to what “used to be”.

Your normal is a “new” normal and yours alone because each person’s backpack of a chronic illness is unique to themselves. For some people, recovery comes quickly up to a point and then, it seems to plateau. For others, the path is filled with rocks and tree roots and the time it takes is much longer.

I tell people that heart disease is customized and each person’s list of symptoms is unique. It is the same with strokes. I regained my ability to walk. I eat with my left hand once again. I type using every finger on my right hand and my pointer finger on my left.

Today, I used those six fingers to share that I can now do one more thing that has eluded me for ten years. I know it probably doesn’t seem like much, but in my world, it proves that I can still achieve more.     

Written by Gloria Ferris

June 9th, 2018 at 4:33 pm

February 1 Go Red For Women

without comments


Go Red for Women

Tomorrow February 1 is designated “Go Red for Women”. Heart disease is the number one killer of women. One in every three deaths of women in 2013 will be caused by heart disease. It is said that this is approximately one woman every minute.

Those of you who know me well are aware that on November 17, 2008 I suffered a massive heart attack. Within the next week, I also suffered three strokes caused by complications from the heart attack. I thank God that my husband over my protests called EMS immediately so that I received the care I needed quickly and efficiently. At first, the first time responders thought I had the worst case of flu they had seen so far, it became apparent to them when they took the EKG in the ambulance that I needed to get to MetroHealth ASAP.

I suffered the heart attack and the strokes in the hospital, and therefore, received the care I needed immediately. Even though this was the case, I lost 21 days of my life due to the severity of my condition. My family and friends were told that there was little if any chance for survival. Almost sixty days later, I walked out of MetroHealth on my own two feet. There had been some doubt as to whether I would ever have the use of my legs or my left hand again.

Today, I am grateful to say that I am still getting stronger every day. Because of my own heart journey and for those who have lost their struggle with heart disease I am asking my friends and loved ones to PLEASE WEAR RED on February 1.

Please help raise the awareness of the severity of heart disease in women. Make sure the women you love get regular checkups and know the warning signs of a heart attack. Please understand that women often do not get the classic heart attack symptoms. For instance, the classic “it feels like an elephant on my chest” may be a nagging back ache that just won’t go away. Many women experience EXTREME fatigue for as much as two weeks before a heart attack or flulike symptoms that instead of getting better get worse.

Written by Gloria Ferris

January 31st, 2013 at 11:05 pm

The Beginning of the Long Road Back

with 4 comments

It was hard coming out of the darkness, through the fog, and into the light.  That sentence probably sounds melodramatic, and probably, a bit like pulp fiction, but it is accurate and the subject of another post.  I find that while I have been away, my Aunt Sally died.  I am sad.  Then, I learn Thanksgiving has come and gone.  I slept through Katie’s birthday.  She was here.  Mo, Geri, and the baby were by my side.  The baby flew with the help of  Dad or Grandpa above my bed at times.   Friends and family stood watch while I drifted.

Today, I am awake.  I can’t walk.  I can’t use my left arm.  The fingers of my left hand don’t cooperate with my brain at all. Two people use a machine to help me to the bathroom.   Tim feeds me.  The nurses help me dress.   But, I can talk, and do I talk.  Visitors begin to fill my room and I tell them… I don’t remember what I tell them, but I know that I am happy and thankful to be there, and I talk and talk.

Looking back on it being able to communicate is probably The most important thing right now—the thing that holds depression at bay.  A doctor steps into the room to assess me and tells me that I will probably have to learn to eat and write with my right hand.  This statement disturbs me more than you can imagine.   I am a “leftie” and am proud to be a leftie.  I tell anyone who will listen, and in reply, I get this question “Isn’t it a bit early to tell”?  And I think to myself.  “Yes”.

The second day I am in the stroke rehab my therapy begins.  Each day I have three hours of therapy—occupational, physical, and speech.   Each session works on parts of my brain that need to learn to coordinate and synchronize.  On Saturdays, I will have physical therapy because it is the most needed.  Sundays I get the day off as well as Christmas and New Year’s.  By Christmas, I will need that day off.  These Physical Therapy guys and gals know their stuff, and  they are the ones who will help me walk again.  I will start with them.

My physical therapist asks me “What is your goal?  What do you want to do when you leave here”?  I tell her, “I want to dance again”.  At this point in time, I am in a wheelchair.  I cannot take three steps alone.  My left arm is learning to stay out of my way, but at times, is very unsuccessful.  She stops, but never hesitates. She says” let’s see what we can do about that”.  

Next: My Occupational Therapist-The Listener

Written by Gloria Ferris

June 16th, 2009 at 8:56 am