E. 30th St. entrance on the backside of the hospital. Some people have been coming for years, perhaps not regularly, but enough to leave their emails and phone numbers with the organizers so they can be contacted later with reminders about meetings. The main organizer is a speech therapist from St. David's by the name of Allison Hanschen, MS, CCC-SLP. She can be contacted at Allison.Hanschen@stdavids.com or at 512-544-5757. If somebody is interested in attending, that's a good place to start.
I have attended only 4 sessions, one in August of last year where
a guest speaker spoke on types of stroke, and that was well attended by some 30-40 people. As I have discovered, guest speakers can turn out the crowd. In December came the holiday party. A good time was had by all. In January, another guest speaker, Dr. Angel Pulido, gave a talk entitled "Updates in Stroke Care". I have been going with a friend, Tony, whom I met in the Day Program 3 1/2 years ago, and who encouraged me to join in the fun. Last Monday's attendees numbered 11, including our leader, Allison. So we pushed the tables together and tried to make it a little more intimate.
The themes of the night were exercise, hope, and caregivers. There were two female caregivers in attendance, a wife and a daughter. The eight stroke survivors were men. Robert was getting ready to walk a 5K and encouraged a new participant, who has a penchant for walking long distances, to join him.
I never understood the value of a support group because I've never been a joiner. Looking back, I'm sure there have been times where I could have used one. But now that I'm in the 4th year of my stroke recovery, I have realized I am a little desperate to find and confide in other people who have gone through the same stuff I have. Also, I want to find out what they're doing about their situation. Is there something that is helping them that I could be doing, as well?
Probably everybody who was married mentioned their wife, and without having to say it, one got the impression that they were the primary caregivers and cheerleaders. I know I can say that about my wife. Chris gives me a hand whenever I ask. She definitely lets me go at my own pace (which is very slow) and encourages me to accompany her wherever she goes.
More and more, I value the opinions and lives of other stroke survivors. We are all in the same boat, and we all have something to offer each other that will keep us afloat. Hope is very buoyant. Last Monday, a stroke survivor sitting at the corner table across from me expressed positiveness every time he had something to say. I don't know if it was the tone of his calm reassuring voice, but I took him at his word when he urged us all to remain positive.
I took away from the meeting the notion that I can still be happy if I continue working hard at showing improvement. The gentleman sitting at the corner table said it would take the rest of our lives of working to get better, and we better not stop. Because what else are we going to do?
The next meeting is March 14. St. David's provides a full spread of fruit and vegetables, cheese and crackers and beverages. I encourage all my readers who could benefit to attend.