Stroke Update 21 – Driving Alone

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My regular readers probably won’t be really shocked to read that I just got back from Walmart, where I went to get a couple of things that I needed, and that I safely DROVE THERE AND BACK, ALL BY MYSELF, for the very first time since my stroke! I called my wife, from the parking lot, to tell her that I had safely arrived, then I walked into the store, walked through the store, found what I was looking for, walked through the store again, to the registers, where I paid for what I had found, then I walked out, and safely drove myself home. It all felt really natural. In fact, I think maybe the hardest part of the whole experience was finding my parked car in the crowded Walmart parking lot.

Two nights ago, was my four-month anniversary of suffering the stroke.

God is good.

Update, Wednesday, 9:07 PM: I got home a little while ago, from a long time of driving exactly 33 miles, in both rush-hour and normal traffic, and both walking and standing around for over 30 minutes. First, I picked up Melissa and Mr. Peanut, and took them, on local roads, and a main highway, to deliver some emergency food to a family that lives on the other side of town. Mr. Peanut grinned, babbled, and excitedly waved at me, as usual, and continued to happily “talk” to himself in his little car seat, behind me, as I drove.

Mr. Peanut is almost always happy!

From the driver’s seat, I yelled back to him, “Mr. Peanut, pretty soon, I’m going to start coming to the church and taking care of you again!” He immediately, and very clearly replied, “yeah!”

I thought that it was great, that, at just seven months old, he was appropriately responding to me, until he followed that up with “bah, bah, bah!,” “gih, gih, gih!,” and some hilariously blown raspberries.

I sure hope that he didn’t know what he was saying. 😉

I specifically asked Melissa to tell me if she noticed me doing anything unsafe or wrong in my driving. She happily told me that I was driving perfectly.

Then I drove us back to downtown, where we found and hugged our friend, Chris, a homeless man who had a stroke at the same time that I did, and Danny, another friend who was recently made homeless, and who is still suffering huge effects from a recent, un-rehabbed stroke of his own.

Then I took Melissa and her still-happy little guy home, and took her son, my 18 year-old friend, Joshua for a little ride, to talk about, and start to straighten out, something that had happened at his college.

On the way home, I stopped at a grocery store, to get some fried chicken, and a sub sandwich for my wife. I drove safely the entire time, and got home just after dark, about 3-1/2 hours after I had left.

Wow, it’s so good to finally feel useful again!

Upddate, Thursday, April 26, 4:07 PM: For the very first time since last December, I drove myself to the homeless church this morning, spoke with several homeless people, and took care of happy little Mr. Peanut for several hours, just like I had done every day for the first few months of his life, before I had my stroke. I ignored all of the sweets and other types of free food that were offered at the church, and instead, at noon, I ate the fried chicken breast and graham crackers that I had brought with me for lunch.

After 2:00 PM, when the church closed for the day, I drove Melissa and Mr. Peanut to the state health office. It was so busy there that it took her an hour to do a few things, while Mr. Peanut and I waited in the car. He was asleep, and I listened to the radio. Then we went to the super-busy Social Security office, where they told us that it would be best for us to go back there tomorrow, around noon, when they expect that things will be relatively slower. We took their advice, and I took Melissa and Mr. Peanut back to their house. By the time I got home, I had driven another 18 miles, through all kinds of traffic and on all kinds of roads.

I have millions of things left to work on, like strengthening my left ankle, walking smoothly, shampooing my head with both hands scrubbing quickly, and rememering to let my left arm hang down straight when I walk, but One Candle Ministries is back!!!

Update, Friday, April 27, 5:56 PM: This morning, I wore my ministry name badge, for the first time since before my stroke, and drove to the homeless church, where I spoke with several people. Then I took one man to get a bunch of prescriptions, then to a pharmacy, then back to the church. Then I took Melissa and Mr. Peanut to the Social Security office, to begin an appeal process; then to a food bank; to someone’s house, to bring them some food; to a dollar store, to get Benadryl and Tylenol drops; then home. Then I picked up a woman at work and drove her home. All together, I drove another 54 miles today, and took care of my little friend, Mr. Peanut, several different times, both at the church, and in my car, while Melissa (his grandma/”mom”) was running errands. Every time I looked at him, he smiled at me, and every time I talked to him, in his language (i.e.,”bah, bah, bah!”), he stared at me, intently, while I was “talking,” and then grinned at me, like I had just told him a really funny joke.

Update, Friday, 8:36 PM: Mike called, so I walked, sans walker or other support, around the block (8x total), with them, and had a great conversation. Apparently, now, I can walk and talk at the same time.

Update, Saturday, April 28, 4:29 PM: Last year, I began taking Melissa to another church’s food bank, early every Saturday morning, where we’d both work for several hours, giving out food to many, many people in need. Then, came my stroke. Others have brought Melissa back there, each week, for the past several months, to pick up hundred of pounds of food for the homeless people at the homeless church, but neither of us has been back there to work at the food bank on Saturday mornings, since my stroke, last December.

From a little after 7:00 this morning, when we went back there, saw a bunch of old friends again, and worked there, until some time this afternoon. Then, we took a load of food to a family that she knows, took her home, and I came home, myself. At noon, I ate the two fried chicken wings that I had brought with me, and one corn dog that I had gotten from the food bank, and since I had been excitedly awake since 4:30 AM, this morning, I took a long nap when I got home from my 36 more miles of safe driving and working.

Unfortunately, Mr. Peanut is with his biological mother and her boyfriend this weekend. Those of us who love and care about him will be sure to give him lots of love and security when he gets back.

Update, Sunday, April 29, 9:15 AM: Warm and sunny. I just got back from walking around the block, alone, and all on my own (9x, total). No problems, no obstacles, no pain, no soreness, and no acetaminophen since I don’t remember when. My walker has been sitting in storage, unused, for more than the past week.

Update, Sunday, 6:43 PM: I got home, a little bit ago, from driving, by myself, to Walmart, buying a week’s worth of groceries, driving home, and bringing them all into the house, while my wife put them all away, for the very first time since last December. Yay!

Update, Sunday, 9:41 PM: I drove to someone’s house, picked them up, drove them to Walmart, drove them home, then drove myself home. All together, I drove another 19 miles, all safely, and all in the dark, for the very first time since my stroke.

Update, Monday, April 30, 5:52 PM: Another 54 safe driving miles today. I drove to the rehab hospitalm to see my rehab and nursing friends for the second time since I “graduated” from there, this past January. They were all incredibly happy, surprised to see me walk, and supportive, hearing that I drove myself there, tearfully saying “I’m so proud of you!” and hugging me, over and over. It was great!

After that, I went to the homeless church and spoke with many, many people. Then I took my homeless friend, Chris, to the county health department, to apply for a free-of-charge, county health insurance card, to replace his expired one; then to his chosen pharmacy, to tell them that he’ll be eligible to get his prescriptions tomorrow, after he gets his insurance card. Then I took 2 women to the Social Security office for a few hours, then took one of them home, and took the other with me to find Chris and tell him that the county called me — his new insurance card has been approved and printed, so I’ll take him to go and get it in the morning. Then I took the other woman home and drove myself back to my home.

Update, Monday, 8:07 PM: Mike called, so I walked around the block, on my own, (10x, total) with him and the dogs. On the way, we stopped and spoke with several neighbors, and one former neighbor, for quite awhile. That was really fun.

Update, Tuesday, May 1, 4:31 PM: Another 31 miles of safe driving. Drove to a nearby tire-repair shop, to replace one bad tire that I plugged 3 times in the past 6, but which keeps leaking anyway. Drove to the homeless church. Spoke to many people at the church. Took Chris to the county health office, to pick up his replacement health insurance card. Stopped by his pharmacy, where they told me that his prescriptions were all approved, but it would take them about 2 hours to fill them. I advocated for Chris, 4.5 hours later, when I called the pharmacy, and was told that they hadn’t even called to obtain approval to fill his prescriptions yet. They told me that they would call the insurance comany right away, and fill all of his prescriptions within an hour, and then send me a text message, to let me know. It’s been 2 hours since then, and they still haven’t filled them. I guess I’ll take Chris back to the pharmacy in the morning, to figure out what’s happening. Around here, at least, helping homeless people is rarely a priority for any business.

Also, I took 2 women to Walmart, Burger King, to pick up something at home, and drop it off at a motel, and and then go back to their homes.

Update, Wednesday, May 2, 2:57 PM: Another 63 miles, driven safely today. Went to the homeless church, and talked to several people. Took Chris and got 4 of his 6 prescriptions. One of the remaining ones will have to be compounded at a different pharmacy, and the other is something that the pharmacy was out of, so they will have to order it. I also took an older couple to rent a U-Haul truck, so that they could move to a different apartment, and took 2 women to stores, to pay bills, and to each other’s houses.

Update, Wednesday, 8:23 PM: Took 2 women to a 105-minute drug rehabilitation meeting. Waited in the car, made a phone call, and listened to the radio. Took them home. Picked up another woman and took her to get some food. Took her home. Went home just as it got dark. Total of 29 more miles of safe driving.

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