Aside

It’s All In The Hands

I have had my share of challenges with occupational therapy and I have had to work really hard at it. When I look back at my days in the hospital rehabilitation unit I can appreciate all the progress I have made. In the rehabilitation unit, I remember barely being able to raise my arm off my wheelchair and now I am able to raise my arm up freely above my head. I would like to share with you a few home exercises that I have found very helpful.

The Power Of The Web

A tool called “The Web” has become one of my best friends. It is basically a round piece of plastic with holes in it used to strengthen finger and hand muscles. There are two exercises I have found very useful with the web.

1. The first is a finger abduction. Place your fingers (except your thumb) into one hole each. Move them in and out (separate them and bring them together) while keeping them as straight  as possible.

2. The second exercise is done by placing the web directly in front of you and grasping both sides firmly (with thumbs not in the holes) and pulling in and out on each side.

Exercises Using A Cookie Sheet (abduction and adduction of fingers)

For this exercise I spray the bottom of a cookie sheet with some Pam. Next, I move my fingers in and out.

After you do this exercise on a cookie sheet you can try it on a countertop, then a fabric surface, and finally sticky surface.

Typing

When typing I find it much easier, and not to mention faster, to support my arms on a table.

Typing(incorrect)

Incorrect typing position.

Typing (correct)

Correct typing position.

There is also a great website with some really good ideas of exercises with items you already have in your home. This website address is: http://www.stroke-rehab.com/hand-exercises.html

I hope you find these home exercises helpful and I welcome any comments you may have.

Teeing Off At The Golf Course

Amy Golfing - Chipping

Chipping

Putting

Putting

Full Swing

Full Swing

I admit I have never been much of a golfer. I tended to subscribe to author Mark Twain’s theory about golf that “Golf is a good walk spoiled.” I much prefer to go for a hike, go to the gym, or swim a few laps.

However, the American Heart & Stroke Association recently sponsored a really fun golf event called Saving Strokes. We gathered at Nibley golf course, in Salt Lake City, on June 20th for a morning filled with a lot of laughter, fun, and encouragement.  I tried my hand out at putting, the full swing, and chipping. I enjoyed putting the most and found the full swing the most challenging.  It was so inspiring to be surrounded by stroke survivors while raising awareness about strokes.

Hats off to all my friends at the local Salt Lake City chapter of AHA/ASA. I thought last years event was a huge success, but this years Saving Strokes event was even better. I think the venue, food, and the camaraderie were all fantastic.

You can find out more about this amazing organization at: heart.org.

Puzzled By Sudoku … No Longer

Sud image

Sud

Amy-Sud

 

 

 

 

 

A few gray hairs later, and after some frustration, I can now confidently say I have finally grasped the basics concepts of  doing Sudoku puzzles.

Here is a little bit of trivia you may find interesting. The name Sudoku comes from Japan and consists of the Japanese characters Su (meaning ‘number’) and Doku (meaning ‘single’).  However,  Sudoku puzzles actually originated in Switzerland and not Japan as I always thought.

When I looked at my first Sudoku puzzle I must admit I was intimidated by all the 9×9 boxes with their missing numbers. I must have gone through a dozen pencils, erasers, and notepads of scratch paper. But I must say, there is nothing like the sense of satisfaction that filling in that very last box brings.

I was amazed at just how logical Sudoku puzzles are, and I would like to share with you a few steps for successfully completing them.

  1.  Look across all rows for the row that has the most filled in.
  2.  Look down the empty squares in that row for the column that has the most filled in.
  3.  Circle the square where the row and the column intersect.
  4.  Look across the row to find which numbers are missing.
  5.  Look down the column to find which numbers are missing.
  6.  Look for the common missing number in the row and column.
  7.  If there is more than one, look for the numbers missing in the 9×9 box.
  8. If the number fits, check in the row, column, and box for any repeats.

Please let me know of any helpful tips and tactics you may have.

Happy puzzling!

Speaking At The Stroke Symposium

Amy Stroke Symposium

I was invited to share my story as a stroke “thriver” at the University of Utah Stroke Symposium on May 17, 2014. It was a great opportunity for me both personally and professionally. I was a little nervous at first to present to this group of doctors and therapists, but after a few minutes I was more relaxed and delivered a very inspiring talk.

I am so thankful my therapists had the foresight to capture my recovery process. It is truly incredible to compare the photos and videos during my stay in the rehabilitation unit to more recent photos and videos. I continue to notice small improvements each day, and I am so thankful for all these advances no matter how small or monumental.

Video

My Story

Television appearance with Big Budah on Good Day Utah promoting Go Red For Women.

My name is Amy Steinbrech and I would like to share my story as a stroke “thriver”. I realize I have so much to be thankful for. It was just a little over a year ago that I was laying in a hospital bed uncertain and afraid of what my future may hold.

I was just 40 years-old when my stroke happened. I was visiting my family in Wyoming for the holidays when I awoke in the middle of the night to use the restroom and realized that I was unable to turn the light switch off. Confused and disoriented, I returned to bed thinking I would simply “sleep it off”. I drifted in and out of consciousness, coming to the realization that the entire right side of my body was paralyzed. My sisters came to check on me around 8:00 a.m., thinking I must have been extra tired from celebrating New Year’s Eve the night before. What my sisters found when they opened the door scared them. I was barely conscious and a mere shadow of the outgoing sister they loved. I was laying there totally helpless and unable to utter a single word.

Learning to walk  and talk again in the rehabilitation unit at the University Of Utah.

I was immediately life flighted from my Mom’s home in Lander, Wyoming to the University of Utah hospital where I spent one week in the Intensive Care Unit, followed by three days in Acute Care, and four weeks in the Rehabilitation department for a grand total of six weeks. Although my time in the ICU was basically a big blur, I do remember a memory board my niece Naomi and my nephew Jack created for me. A speech therapist mentioned that creating a memory board would be helpful in recognizing the names and faces of my family. That was all that needed to be said, and with crayons and markers in hand, Naomi and Jack were off to create my memory board.

Then it was off to the rehabilitation unit where my recovery started in earnest. I was in therapy six days a week for seven hours a day and I can honestly say I have never worked harder in my entire life. I was completely committed to learning to walk and talk again while regaining movement and strength back in my right side.

My therapy sessions progressed very rapidly thanks to my strong work ethic and positive attitude.

I remember not being able to raise my right arm one day and literally the next morning I was able to lift my arm up six inches. When I was released from the hospital I was able to raise my arm above my head. I experienced that same type of rapid progression in physical therapy, where I progressed from being in a wheelchair to going on 8 mile hikes. The same is true for speech therapy. I struggled to utter my nieces name “Nomi” in the ICU and look at me now writing a blog.

My therapists are as good as they come and totally top notch. They were so patient, understanding, and comforting and most importantly, they acted as a team. They pushed me to my limits and I will always be forever grateful for that.

My doctors knew they would not have to ask me if I was ready to go home. I was more than ready and willing to embrace life outside the hospital walls. I was discharged on February 8, 2013 and that was truly one of my happiest days of my life. Thanks to my amazing team of doctors at the University of Utah who took such good care of me, and my pure spirit of determination, I am now is busy preparing to reenter the work force and treasuring each and every day.

Learning to ride my bike again.

I enjoy swimming and this was my first time back in pool since my stroke.

I would like to share with you a few key items I learned from my stroke.

  1. It really helps to have a strong support network. My Mom and three sisters were my biggest cheerleaders and I can’t imagine going through my stroke recovery without them. It is so important to surround yourself with only positive people – no “Debby Downers” allowed in my support network.
  2. It is important to set goals. In the Rehabilitation unit, I vividly remember a big whiteboard where the doctors and nurses could write notes and seeing “TBD/ To Be Determined” next to my release date. That was not going to “cut it” with my determined spirit, and although I was still unsteady on my feet, I walked up to the whiteboard and wrote my release date as January 31st. Although I was not released until February 8th, I still had a goal I was working towards.
  3. A positive attitude can truly work miracles. You have to believe in yourself.

Scanned_Image_140640002

I gave surfing a try on a trip to San Diego with my three wonderful sisters. I am looking forward to trying surfing again post stroke.

Volunteering

I participated and volunteered at the 2013 American Heart Association walk/run.

Hiking

I really enjoy hiking and I was back in my element on this 8 mile hike.

Scanned_Image_140640003 Wine Country

Trip to the Wine Country with my Mom and sisters. I am so thankful for their unconditional support and love.

We did a bike tour on our trip which was so much fun.