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Stroke survivor who walked across America talks at Good Samaritan
Four-time stroke survivor Mycle Brandy walked across America last year. On Monday, he walked into MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, a quick stop on this year’s stroll from San Diego to Seattle to raise stroke awareness.
The 60-year-old Brandy spoke with about 40 people at the Good Samaritan Regional Rehabilitation Center, which treats about 170 stroke patients each year. Of those patients, 86 percent eventually go home, with the majority functioning at a level that allows them to participate in activities of daily living.
“It’s always good to hear from someone who has personally gone through it,” said Karen Kiesz, Stroke Coordinator for Tacoma General Hospital.
“It’s good to let people know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Valerie Lyttle, Stroke Coordinator at Good Samaritan Hospital. “Each individual’s path will be different, and it takes a while, but good rehab really makes a difference.”
Stroke recovery “is a marathon, not a sprint,” Kiesz said. “The two keys are good rehab and a strong support system – from family, caregivers, friends or community -- in recovery.”
To hear Brandy’s story, staff members sat on stools and therapy tables in the rehab gym, where, moments earlier, patients were relearning balance, rebuilding coordination and taking their first steps to recovery.
Brandy, of San Clemente, Calif., opened by joking about the gear required for walking through Washington’s wet weather – he removed a blue hooded raincoat, a yellow jacket, a blue sweatshirt, and four layers of long-sleeve thermal shirts.
“I’ll leave the T-shirt on,” he quipped.
Brandy then described his long road of recovery and rehabilitation, both physical and mental, from the depression, anger and drug abuse that came after his first stroke -- the result of a construction accident -- and three subsequent strokes that left him with hearing loss and paralysis on his right side.
He described a low point of looking at a tennis ball in his right hand, and crying because he was unable to grasp it.
“I can walk forever, but I’m doing this for a purpose,” Brandy said. “I want people to understand that stroke can happen to anyone, and there is hope afterward.”
He credits his wife, Louise, with her tough-love support. In recovery, when Mycle would ask for something, such as a cup of coffee, Louise would say, “Go get it yourself.”
“Getting it myself made me want to get it myself,” Brandy said. “The biggest obstacle is the want and the desire.”
On this journey, Brandy walks about 20 miles per day. He plans to arrive in Seattle on Wednesday. His progress can be followed on his Facebook page.
Louise, who rides along in a support RV driven by a friend, offered perspective for family members of people who are recovering from stroke.
“I learned to use that support system, and to take care of myself” Louise Brandy said. “And it’s also OK to let go of them, even if you’re scared that they might hurt themselves. Let them go for the walks they need to go on.”
Posted on Nov 21, 2011 in Stroke & Neurosciences