2012 ISSUE 1
Life is Different, But Good
Pursuing his passions helps one stroke survivor to never give up.
There are a lot of things Brent chenoweth has figured out how to do one-handed, including drying the right side of his back, cutting meat and loading arrows into his crossbow.
After his stroke in 2008, Chenoweth, 53, was unable to speak, smile or raise his arms. His right side was paralyzed. With the help of doctors, nurses and therapists, he came home in a wheelchair. Today, the father of four continues to make progress.
“I plan on progressing every day for the rest of my life,” he says.
Chenoweth’s stroke occurred one day after work. His wife, Barb, came home from walking their chocolate Lab, George, and as she walked into the house she found her husband struggling to stand and unable to speak.
“My wife grabbed hold of me and said ‘It’s OK, you’re having a stroke,’” Chenoweth recalls. Barb couldn’t reach the phone for fear of letting go and having him fall. Instinctively, George positioned himself under his owner and held him up while Barb dialed 911.
Doctors gave Chenoweth a tPA shot and he was in intensive care for two days before he moved to inpatient rehabilitation. He embraced intense speech, physical and occupational therapy for three hours a day, seven days a week for seven weeks.
“He has never given up,” Barb says. “He’s my hero.”
When it comes to overcoming hemiparesis, Chenoweth says he’s not afraid to try anything. In addition to regular therapy, he sees a physiatrist (a rehabilitation physician) who injects his right arm and leg muscles with Botox four times a year. He uses an electrical stimulator that prevents foot drop in his right foot and allows him to walk occasionally with a camouflage cane, and a Bioness device stretches the muscles in his right arm and hand.
Though his right arm and hand do not move, Chenoweth still pursues his passion for hunting and has bagged three deer with his rifle and one with a crossbow. He’s working towards fishing again and going on one more big game hunt. Chenoweth also stays busy mowing his farmland near Jackson, MO, watching movies and hunting shows, attending church, reading, looking at photos taken from his hunting camera and visiting with friends and family. “And I love drinking coffee on our back porch with my wife and dog every morning,” he says.
It’s important to find a way to do the things you want to do, Chenoweth advises. “I know it feels like half of your body is dead, but never give up. Stay positive and be happy, and don’t feel sorry for yourself.”
Rehabilitation can help hemiparetic patients learn new ways of using and moving weak arms and legs.
Professionals involved include:
Physiatrist - These rehabilitation physicians are nerve, muscle and bone specialists; ideally the one who will manage a stroke patient’s entire rehab process.
Occupational therapist - Helps survivors relearn skills needed to perform everyday activities and fine motor skills.