David's Wife's Story
It has been a long road since November 2005 when David had his stroke. You can’t prepare yourself for this type of illness or situation when it hits. It took us by surprise – there were no warning signs, it just happened. One minute my husband was awake and playing with our children and an hour later he couldn’t move his right limbs and couldn’t remember my name. I’ll never forget the fear in his eyes as I know he realized that things were bad, real bad.
It was a rough month in the hospital – dealing with his new limitations and trying to re-arrange our life to accommodate him. He was depressed, angry, stubborn and without hope. We were given the name of a support group to attend at the hospital – that’s it. No one told us how to do anything, what to prepare for or where to go next.
Luckily, David’s stubbornness impressed the Physical Therapist and Speech Language Pathologist whom were working with him. Before he was released, they guided him to a program at Touro’s Outpatient Day Program and they accepted him right away. David was at Touro Monday – Friday from 8am-3pm for 7 months. They worked him hard and he wanted more! It was there that David got some of his self-esteem back; began to conquer those things he thought he would never do again. He got out of a wheelchair and was able to drive in six months; went from a full leg brace to an ankle brace in five months; from five words utterances to maybe twenty words in seven months. With their help he taught himself to dress, shave, cook, eat, write, play with our daughters, and to live once again!
While David was working to achieve “YES I CAN” again, I faced the “No, you can’t” items. Things like, having to leave Touro because insurance ran out. Like, not receiving food stamps or assistance because “we owned our home and had a checking account,” with no concern that we went from two incomes to one. Like, not being able to receive disability because he had to be “disabled” for 18 months first, then had to prove he could not get better.
No one gave us any information or any help – I found everything we had to do via the internet or through the therapists. It was hard and extremely frustrating for me – in one night I had to become “the” person of the house. I had to not only work to support our family, but get David what he needed; get our daughters what they needed; find out what was available to us to help David – and stay positive for him on top of that! I often wished that there were a manual of some sort that you could use to find out information about caring for a stroke patient – it would have been so much easier. What I wouldn’t have given to be able to talk with someone who had “been there, done that” and could give me some advice.
When it was time for David to leave Touro his speech therapist told us about a program at LSU Health Science Center, that took adult stroke patients with communication disorders. Speech services were provided by supervised graduate level speech language pathology students, whom work with clients on a weekly basis as part of their education.
We spoke with Dr. Scott Rubin SLP-CCC, a neurological professor at the university, and was able to initiate David's services right away. That was in 2006 – and David has never left! David has found his “home” there and has flourished! Working with Dr. Rubin and his students has been a life changing experience for David. His ability to speak and write has improved 100% - and continues to do so. He has gained so much from his association with Dr. Rubin and the graduate students – his self-esteem, his drive, his determination, and his hope!
I have often said that we owe everything to Dr. Rubin and the students that worked and pushed David through the years! I have watched my husband come back from feeling useless and worthless to feeling more alive and valuable than before he had his stroke.
One of my most precious memories is when David said my name aloud – it had been 5 years since he spoke it – and it was a moment I’ll never forget! For that moment, I owe ALL my gratitude to Dr. Rubin and his students!
Our family has gone through a lot since David’s stroke. There have been many bad times, but then there have been just as many good ones. Our daughters have grown up with a Daddy that has a disability and it has made them more accepting and more compassionate than most kids their age. Our family has learned to give and bend and to show great patience towards each other. I won’t say that it has been all smooth – for there are many times I'm full of frustration, resentment, and anger. Our faith, My Faith, has kept me going. My faith that the Lord will keep us and bless us, has been my constant source of strength. The road has been rough, shaky, and full of twists and turns as well as dead ends, but we’ve finally reached the pavement and we’re still going forward!