|Lily and I setting off for a walk recently.|
The biggest reason that I am able to do so many things after my stroke is that it wasn't that severe. Oh, it was bad for the first few weeks what with not being able to walk or even stand up and all. But I got better rapidly and within a year had regained almost full control and strength on my left side. I do believe there were some things I did that aided in my recovery, with the two primary being swimming regularly at our local Y, and walking in the woods.
There is a small patch of woods next to our house where our dog Lily and I loved to walk before my stroke. After I returned home from inpatient rehab, it was several months before I attempted it again. When I did I was shocked at how difficult it was to negotiate the path Lily and I had made over the years. Leaves, dead branches, and even a few small trees had fallen across the path, and while pre-stroke I would barely have noticed, post-stroke they were formidable obstacles. Just the unevenness of the ground made walking much more difficult than I had anticipated. But I persevered, and now it isn't nearly as much of a challenge.
Lily is a golden retriever and a great dog. The best I've ever known. We've had her since she was a pup, and she's twelve now, but still healthy and strong. Like all golden retrievers, she is strongly attuned to her human family members. Before my stroke, our walks consisted of me walking the path while Lily ranged through the woods around me, exploring, scaring up animals, and getting into as much mischief as possible. After my stroke, though, she changed her routine. Seeing how unstable I was, she stayed close to me and sometimes whimpered with worry when I stumbled. Now she doesn't get too far ahead of me before turning around to check on me and wait for me to catch up, just like she's doing in the picture. Polly and I are going to miss her so much when she's gone.
Here's a part of the woods off the path. I don't try to walk there. Over the years we've seen rabbits, squirrels, deer, hawks, owls, snakes, turtles, skunks, turkeys, foxes, and a few unidentifiable creatures that could have been Mrs. Tiggywinkle. But probably not. These woods, and Lily, have made my life a bit richer, though, without a doubt.