any stroke recovery stories for me?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by corinpills, Jan 14, 2016.

Tags:
  1. corinpills

    corinpills

    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    Last Wednesday night, I suffered a stroke of my right Parietal lobe and just got home from the hospital two days ago. It wasn't a mini-stroke or a TIA, it was the whole enchilada, but I came out fairly lucky. I have no paralysis or trouble walking. My left arm and actual hand are very strong, just not my fingers. I have been making some really good progress so far: at first I couldn't grip my fingers together at all. The occupational therapist poured out some paper clips and told me to put them back in the cup and the first day took 30 minutes and totally wore me out. It got better the more I did it.

    I had my wife bring in a casio and started running left hand figures with a metronome. My neurologist was actually a concert organ player in Germany and he was very encouraging. He seems to think my odds of recovery are very strong and says that musician brains are particularly adept at forging work- arounds for synapses to reconnect. The brain tries to find new paths to make things work.

    As a professional musician (mostly on guitar these days), not being able to play is a really big deal. Any of you have any experience with stroke recovery? I could use the encouragement, honestly.
     
    JimK and ariwax like this.
  2. ariwax

    ariwax Insonating the acoustic window Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    I am a neurologist and a neurocritical care specialist, and I am medical director of a busy Neuro-ICU at a major stroke center in Ohio. (I also keep a bass amp and two basses in my office, and play for at least twenty minutes before I go home every evening.). Please take it from me: your neurologist is right.

    It will take at least six months for the rewiring of your brain to mature, in most cases. You are NOT going to stay this way. This is important: the stimulus that causes your brain to rewire itself is that feeling of frustration that happens when you try to do something and fail. You want your fine motor function back, you have to try and try, and it will happen for you. That is the basis of neurorehabilitation. Please stay positive and keep working at it.

    Feel free to PM me if you have any questions or need anything.
     
    blindrabbit, GKon, P. Aaron and 15 others like this.
  3. Invictus

    Invictus

    Oct 10, 2009
    Sacramento
    Sure thing. I had a stroke about three yrs ago. Same place as you. Left side was clumsy, couldn't type or work the bass fingerboard. Luckily I had a Kala U-bass and was able to use that as a rehab tool, just for the sake of working the brain and muscles. Went back to work right away with my primary care doc's blessing. The mission was to get parts working again.

    It took three months for some degree of normalcy to return, but I eventually had to give up my job as a director of outpatient services in a mid-sized hospital. Memory was spotty and I had trouble with problem solving and my cognitive functioning was much slower. Even now, years later, learning new tasks takes focus and a bit of Scottish stubbornness to get through.

    I have some new baseline norms now. Most body parts work as advertised. Can be a little clumsy at times. Usually when I'm tired. Brain doesn't work as well as it used to, sometimes with speech articulation. I think I notice it more than others.

    All that being said, I'm still alive and making music. I have a dream-come-true day job teaching graduate students and supervising interns.

    You can get through this. Sometimes it will be straight up bullheadedness that wins the day. Be mindful that you have a righteous, for really true brain injury. It is common for people to become clinically depressed. Be honest with your doc and your loved ones. If you get depressed, deal with it. It won't just evaporate on its own.

    You won't know the full extent of the damage for about a year. Most progress will be in the first three months.

    Hang in there, your music will get you through. Here's a word that may help: neuroplasticity. Cool stuff.

    Good luck. Feel free to p.m.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2016
    GKon, JimK, monsterthompson and 3 others like this.
  4. corinpills

    corinpills

    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    I am developing a major appreciate iation of the concept of neuroplasticity. The more I read about it, the more I am blown away at the brain's ability to heal itself. Thanks for the story, very helpful.
     
    P. Aaron, JimK and monsterthompson like this.
  5. January 31st 2008 I had a major stroke, it was very ugly. I recovered fully practicing the drums was a big part of my recovery in my opinion. After I recovered I was in the mood to continue challenging myself, I took up hand percussion and got serious about bass.

    Hang in there. It isn't an easy road, but it is very rewarding to make the come back.

    Please contact me if you need someone to listen when things get frustrating.
     
    GKon, JimK, monsterthompson and 3 others like this.
  6. Dominick C.

    Dominick C.

    Jul 2, 2012
    Austin, Tx
    I don't like mean people or mean comments....
    My heart goes out to you. This is a terrifying reality and scares the crap out of me, and I'm not the one dealing with it. Please stay strong man we are pulling for you.

    This thread makes me proud to be a part of Talkbass. Such an incredible community. The first reply you got was from a friggin neurologist. Wow.
     
    Mktrat, /\/\3phist0, JimK and 4 others like this.
  7. corinpills

    corinpills

    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    Thanks, Dom. Take care of yourself. Watch that blood pressure.

    This morning, I was able to play a scale on my Hofner. Two days ago, I was nowhere near being able to do that AT ALL. It was meant to be a major scale and came out mixolydian, but still a big thrill.
     
    JimK, monsterthompson and GregC like this.
  8. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    Hollywood
    I didn't have a stroke, but I am 5+ years into recovery from a spinal cord injury. I crashed a mountain bike on a stunt, then woke up in a hospital bed. I was unable to move anything below my neck, which meant I was on a vent to keep me breathing. The doctors said this was my new life and that I'd never recover any movement. I'd breathe through a tube in my neck and eat through a tube in my nose, and pee through a tube in my . . .

    Well, I'm now typing this with both hands, after an hour of bass playing. So, you can see that things aren't always what the doctors say they will be. That said, I admit I'm quite fortunate to have this degree of recovery. There is no real explanation for it. I don't know if it was the surgeons, my therapists, my drive, or some magical combination of those things and others.

    I do have a Brown-Séquard injury, which means my injury-side (my left) is still quite impaired. My right side recovered strength and mobility much faster, and now has fairly normal function. However, I have limited mobility and strength on my left. Most people don't notice my physical issues, like my limp, or muscle spasms. It isn't all a bed of roses, but it could be so much worse. The good news is that each day I recover a bit more. I refuse to quit. I set goals, and I go after them.

    I spent several months in a rehab facility, which combined treatment for various injury types, and stroke and brain injuries were common in other patients. I saw some pretty impressive recoveries. I still see some of the patients, including one who suffered a stroke, on occasion (we have the same doctor) and I've seen them make continued progress over the years.

    Keep on working. Find new and creative ways to address your obstacles. Don't simply accept the tools they provide; figure out ways to adapt and improve. I started using technology to shortcut issues. I found ways to operate using an iPad. I discovered Native Instruments Maschine and programming. I moved from a performance mentality to a composition mentality, and it made a huge difference.

    I did eventually get back on stage. I had to sit to play, but I could still play. Now I can stand and play for short sessions, depending on the complexity of the material.

    When you are ready, read and/or watch The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. It is an impressive true-story about what a driven person can do despite an unbelievable degree of incapacitation from his stroke. I wish it had a happier ending, but it isn'y a fairy tale. Regardless, it is inspirational.
    The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2016
  9. ariwax

    ariwax Insonating the acoustic window Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    I will say that if you have to have a stroke, you could do worse than the right parietal lobe. In my neuro-ICU practice I see patients wth all kinds of different stroke syndromes. Different parts of the brain do different things, and while damage to the right parietal can lead to syndromes of visuospatial neglect, apraxias (i.e. becoming lost in the steps of a complex task), difficulty with math, and left-right confusion, among others, it is widely considered one of the most "plastic" regions of the brain. Following initial injury, most people are able to compensate for damaged parietal cortex with early and aggressive rehab. There are exceptions, as some people will be so compromised by apraxia that they aren't able to button a shirt, but from your description (and the fact that you are able to fire up Talkbass and write a post more cogent than most people here who don't have strokes) you have a lot to be thankful for. At this point it's all about rehab, and of course following the doctors' orders to prevent future strokes. You will NOT stay this way.
     
    monsterthompson likes this.
  10. corinpills

    corinpills

    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    Thanks Airwax, that is very encouraging. On the first night I was allowed out of bed at the hospital, I took my new friend Ivy for a roll around the ward and there was a big brain chart on the wall. It showed how strokes in different lobes of the brain affect different functions and I really did come away thinking that I had had a lucky stroke. Amazing to think that with the various options and vessels from a clot in the carotid artery, I kind of got the right one.

    The thing that is causing me some worry is that I am having trouble getting a quick appointment at rehab. The soonest they have open is Feb. 3 which almost a full month after my stroke. I have been running left hand scales and arpeggios on a keyboard with a metronome, doing my thera putty, tying shoes (that one is really hard) and using my left hand for as much as possible, but I'm a bit worried about not having legit therapy guidance at this stage of my recovery. A friend who know someone in admin at this rehab made a call on my behalf, so maybe they'll be able to at least slide me in for an evaluation. And the face droop is a major bummer. I've been doing any facial exercises I can find online- puffing out my cheeks, lip trills, etc. But it's a real downer- quite literally.

    ANyway, yesterday, I played a D chord on my guitar. Not a very elegant one, but I felt like dancing just being able to do it.
     
  11. ariwax

    ariwax Insonating the acoustic window Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    The facial droop will take some time to get better but eventually will just be a subtle flattening in your nasolabial fold. Give it a few months. As far as rehab, I agree that you need professional guidance but in truth you are already doing much of what you need to do. That specific frustrated feeling you got while tying your shoes is precisely what causes your brain to form new synapses. That feeling you got when you successfully hit that D chord is what strengthens those synapses and motivates you to do more. Keep it going.
     
    drummer5359 likes this.
  12. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    Hollywood
    You need to be your own advocate. If my mom (she handled my care at the time) hadn't been assertive things would've been much more difficult. The medical system isn't easy to navigate. Dates will get pushed around. Availability is tough. Be tenacious. If that doesn't work, do your own therapy to the degree you can. Every little bit helps.

    For me, acupuncture and massage were helpful in rediscovering my limbs. Human touch can be magical. I even tried Reiki and believe it had some benefits.

    Learn about your condition. Learn about how the body functions. Apply what you can.

    The silver lining is that you can probably get a handicapped parking placard. As an LA resident, that little blue license plate icon is a pretty handy feature.
     
  13. corinpills

    corinpills

    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    I cannot tell you how encouraging these posts are, guys. It seems that 'bass players who have recovered from a stroke' is a pretty small and exclusive club. A number of people have mentioned acupuncture and I don't really know the first thing about it . I have always thought it was slightly hippy dippy, but if it works, I am totally willing to give that a go.
     
    monsterthompson likes this.
  14. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    Hollywood
    Acupuncture is hit or miss. It can work but doesn't always. Don't be put off by granola voodoo. Reiki is even farther out on that spectrum an I had positive experiences with it.
     
  15. ariwax

    ariwax Insonating the acoustic window Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    There is no evidence in the literature at this point to justify the use of acupuncture following a stroke. It probably won't do any harm, though, so if you think it helps, go for it. The only things which are proven to work at this point are early and aggressive neuro-rehab, and preventing additional strokes. Some promising studies have looked at t'ai chi, as well as the use of antidepressants, but neither are routinely recommended. There is also research under way looking at transcranial magnetic stimulation of the brain and computer-aided occupational therapy, among other things, but otherwise it comes down to diligent hard work and following the advice of your neurologist.
     
    monsterthompson and Invictus like this.
  16. corinpills

    corinpills

    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    Actually, I beloeve one of our area Neurologists has done some research on magnetic stimulation: Dr. Mel B. Glenn. I read about it online snf he is affiliated with Spauldung Tehab, where I start my OT on Monday. I am trying to find someone who knows him to see if I can meet with him.
     
    ariwax likes this.
  17. corinpills

    corinpills

    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    Just a little update for anyone who cares. I am 26 days post- stroke and, as you guys predicted, have made a ton of progress with my fingers on my left hand. I got really good feedback from my first Occupational Therapy session on the work I've been doing at home. I really couldn't play bass at all at first and definitely couldn't form any chord shapes on guitar. I started off just doing little 5 note patterns on a keyboard with a metronome. then I was able to play a scale on my Hofner with soft strings. I noticed that my 3rd finger was lagging behind and having some real problems with spatial relations. Like, you know on bass how it's super natural to play an octave with your 3rd finger? Mine was just in the wrong spot constantly. I decided to try some left hand keyboard parts that forced me to actually stretch to get them right. "Green Eyed Lady" over and over at a slow tempo. "What'd I Say" by Ray Charles. "Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This" by Eurythmics. "Signed Sealed Delivered". I had some legit left hand piano exercises as well. but I found that I would do it longer if it was a song I knew and wanted to get it right.

    At this point, guitar chords are coming back as well. All my open cowboy chords are no problem- though switching them in time takes some concentration. Barre chords are still a bit too much, especially the dreaded F. I got this therapy tool called Music GloveStroke Hand Therapy Exercises for Rehab ( a hand/eye coordination game) that seems to be just the thing. 30 minutes of this thing and I need a little nap. The main thing right now is singing. I am just appalled at the sounds coming out of my pie hole! I can hit the notes and the intervals, but the actual shape of my mouth is thwarting me. I start speech therapy in two weeks and then I am going to hunker down with some vocal lessons. This is totally karma for all my years of ragging on bass players who don't sing!

    The fatigue that comes with a stroke is a serious mind- blower. I just assumed I'd be back to normal energy by now, but I am exhausted by lunchtime every day. I have been very lucky in that the guys I work with seem to understand. Thanks agian for all the support early on. It has been very helpful and I have a constant deluge of encouragement from friends and family to keep my spirits up. I have definitely felt frustration, but I have been able to avoid too much "woe is me" negativity.
     
    GregC, Fielding and monsterthompson like this.
  18. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    Hollywood
    Go!
     
  19. I have no anecdotes to offer. However, I am constantly amazed at the tenacity that humans possess. Best wishes for your recovery.
     
    monsterthompson likes this.
  20. corinpills

    corinpills

    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    Thanks! All good wishes are gratefully received, I assure you.
     
    GregC and monsterthompson like this.