Sharon and Randall Munson on Celebrating a Year Without A Stroke

Sharon had gotten on her swimming suit, and
kissed me goodbye, and went for a walk on the beach. And I was sitting in my office and was looking
out over the Gulf of Mexico, and I saw a dolphin swimming her way. And so I sent her a text message to alert
her to look up because you can’t hear them, they just come swimming by. And I didn’t hear anything back from her. And a little time went by and I saw another
one swimming her way, so I picked up the phone and called her, and the ER doctor answered
the phone. She had been taken by ambulance to the emergency
room because she had had a stroke. In ICU the cardiologist made a comment about
this being a life-changing event, and I didn’t know how much that would be true. Since then, she has been in occupational therapy
and speech therapy. Initially it was every day for about a half
a year. It then went down to three times a week for
speech therapy, after she had cleared occupational therapy, and has been doing that now for two
and a half years. But I guess what I’ve learned is that when
they say there’s a risk of stroke, that’s real. And that stroke can change your life. Anybody who has AFib needs to take that very
seriously. It’s just not an abstract thing. It can happen. It can kill you, with a stroke. And it can impact you for the rest of your
life. So make sure that you get good medical advice. In the two and a half years since the stroke,
she has improved dramatically. She went from the point where she couldn’t
utter a sound, to being able to make sounds and sound letters and words. And now often she can string together words
to make a sentence. Interestingly often it’s the little words
that she can’t get. Yeah. She is just as bright and she ever has been. She just can’t get things expressed. Yes. She amazes me. She has a perpetual calendar in her head. She knows everything going on, but she just
does not have the stamina anywhere to what she used to have. The emotions, they’re difficult. I was really down for a period of time. My world had changed. And I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I didn’t know how much she would be able to
recover. Fortunately we have a wonderful family and
our kids were instrumental in getting us through. I guess my advice to the caregivers is to
recognize how much it affects you, because I was focused on Sharon and didn’t realize
that I was falling apart. Because every moment of my life was focused
on her and her recovery. It’s easy for people to withdraw, to shut
down and be quiet, not go out of the house, and that is not a good thing. So if you’re taking care of somebody encourage
them to get out and be in the world, continue to be involved as much as you can, and then
a little bit more. Because by doing that your life is much more
normal, and recovery is better. When she was discharged from the hospital,
she and I and our kids walked out on the beach to where she had the stroke. I thought that was important to have a moment
there when she would be back there and kind of realize that it’s o.k. She doesn’t have to be afraid of going back
to that spot.

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