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COMMUNITY VOICE

A day in the life of a hemiplegic

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - 12:01 am

My name is J. Henry Cook, and several years ago I suffered a massive stroke that left me with severe paralysis. I am now a hemiplegic.

Sometimes I wonder why I survived this massive stroke. As I learn how to cope and deal daily with my disability, there are many challenges I face to function in life effectively.

A typical day in my life can be an adventure that always amazes me. By the end of the day I wonder how I made it through, but at the same time I thank God for what may seem like some small things to the average person.

I begin each morning religiously waking to the news at 5 a.m. I take my morning shot in the arm of 34 units of insulin and 100 mg of Levithyroxine on an empty stomach. By then my morning aide has arrived to help me with either a bedside bath or a shower and a little moisturizer. She helps get me get dressed and brushes my teeth. At that point my breakfast is ready. Now that the morning routine is out of the way, I am challenged with the next level of problems: transportation.

I am not trying to be funny or gain anyone's sympathy, but everything that I do now has a serious physical challenge. Whether it is traveling to and from Turnstone, the doctor's office, the grocery store, or a restaurant, I have to plan carefully and arrange my means of transportation.

For example, say I have to ride the city bus to Turnstone today. I hope

it won't rain or be very cold and windy. To get to Turnstone it takes two different buses. Going there it's No. 9 Taylor & Brooklyn and No. 8 Glenbrook, and coming back home it's No. 8 and No. 9 St. Francis. Each bus has a handicap section and a lift built into the front of it. The drivers are very friendly and are always ready to lend their assistance. The bus driver always radios ahead to the connecting bus so it will know what to expect and how to care for me. This makes me feel confident and makes my ride efficient. If all goes well, I'm on my way to Turnstone. I can either ride the big bus for free, as a disabled individual, or ride the small city bus, which is Access. For the small bus, there is a fee each way to ride after you make a required reservation.

Once I reach the nearest bus stop by Turnstone, the driver unhooks me and lets me off of the bus. I have to cut through the parking lot of a local bar and then cross Clinton Street, which sometimes is really dangerous and busy because the sidewalks in front of the businesses on the side of the street where I'm supposed to be are either not handicap-accessible or too torn up to use.

Sometimes things go smoothly. Other times there are some hang-ups or things don't go quite as planned, but they get done. Once I get through a day at Turnstone with the Adult Day Services program, it's time to go home on the bus.

It takes at least two hours of my time to ride the bus each way. Once I finally get home, I have the task of warming up my dinner and getting it to the table to eat without throwing it all over the floor, and then taking my evening

medications and shot of 34 units of insulin.

I relax for a couple of hours and watch television or read a book. The lights go out around 10 or 11 p.m. and I go to sleep and get back up at 5 a.m. to start the cycle all over again. This is a typical day in my life.

I have come to the final resolution that if I can accomplish the goals and objectives that I have on my plate one day at a time, I have achieved something great.