Mike Gamble - Stroke Survivor Story (Arizona)
SC: How did your stroke affect you?
MG: I didn’t know what went on. I woke up one morning and everything went haywire. My wife said I ended up on the floor, they flew me by helicopter down to [the hospital]. I had a brain aneurysm, and I had a 10-hour operation on my brain. [My doctor] told me nine out of ten guys that have this procedure don’t make it. So that’s why I’m happy to be here. Well, I was four months in a coma, and after the coma they put me into a rehab center. So my whole right side was affected. Then they came in and said to me, “There’s no more money, the insurance company won’t pay any more.” At that point I was finished with rehab. I didn’t have much rehab in the first place because every time I tried to do rehab I’d get dizzy, I’d get sick. It was seven months before I got back home.
SC: What do you want people who have had a stroke to know?
MG: I want to make sure people know that when you have a stroke and you are a stroke survivor, there is life after stroke. You got to get in with a good group. Our [stroke support] group is a big family. Our group is fabulous. We’re constantly on the phone checking with each other. If one of us goes to the hospital we get in there to see if anybody needs anything, just like family. So I want everybody to know that there is life after stroke.
The other thing is, you’ll never be the same, so get used to a new
normal. Figure out what your new normal is. With the help of the group,
it’s easy. You
met [the music therapist at camp]. She is the greatest gal, she’s
our music director. We have a great time in music. We write songs and we
and sing them, and [the music therapist] has a thousand songs. She
does a great job.
And I do dancing. Even in a wheelchair, I do dancing. I do aqua therapy in the swimming pool, where I walk the length of the pool holding onto the bars. And I can do small things around the house.
These are the things that you need to understand that are available after stroke. As Dr. Patrick told me, “You got to keep trying, keep fighting.” And that’s so true. Yes, I can give up and go to my bed and just hang in my bed all day, but it would get me nothing.
SC: What was your greatest accomplishment since your stroke?
MG: My greatest accomplishment? I think it’s still happening. It’s day-to-day living. It’s pushing and progressing every single day. There are some days that I don’t progress. I have good days, I have bad days, and I have worse days. But you got to get up and keep going. You can’t let it get you down.
I can take very few steps, I can walk with my walker a little, but my whole right side has no feeling. My fingers wouldn’t even work. So I just kept pulling them out and then closing them down, pulling them out and closing them down. You do that a couple hundred times they get smart enough to work.
They told me when they released me out of rehab, “You’re not going to get any more than you got. Don’t expect anything more than what you have right now. Your right side will never regenerate; it will never come back.” Well that’s B.S. It’s coming back, it’s coming back.