Sam’s Strides Towards Independence

January 26, 2024 > Survivor Stories

Suppose you woke up one day and lost your ability to speak. Imagine that you couldn’t even swallow a small drink of water. Your throat wouldn’t cooperate because the entire right side of your body isn’t cooperating. For Sam, these were profound and distressing sensations following a stroke in February 2020. Simple tasks that were once effortless, such as walking or reaching for an object, were seemingly impossible.

Experiencing a stroke can be a frightening and disorienting ordeal. A stroke occurs when there is a disruption of blood flow to a part of the brain, leading to damage and often resulting in various physical and cognitive impairments. The specific symptoms can vary depending on the location and severity of the stroke. If it affects the brain’s left hemisphere, it can lead to problems on the right side of the body.

Swallowing difficulties, known as dysphagia, are also common post-stroke. This can lead to problems with eating and drinking, posing a risk of choking or aspiration. The inability to swallow a glass of water alone can be frustrating. It may require assistance with other daily activities, such as eating and staying hydrated.

Emotionally, the experience of having a stroke and coping with the resulting physical and cognitive challenges can be overwhelming. Sam, a former building maintenance manager who had been looking forward to training as a transit driver, has had to put some of his dreams on hold as he rebuilds his strength. Focusing on his health in hopes of being able to drive again, Sam participates in ARBI’s walking group and an online exercise program.

It’s crucial for individuals who have had a stroke to receive prompt medical attention and ongoing support from healthcare professionals, rehabilitation specialists, and emotional support networks to aid in recovery and adaptation to the new circumstances.

Sam—who says he is naturally a positive thinker—focuses on his wins through ARBI’s rehabilitation program to improve his mobility, speech, and daily living skills to regain as much independence as possible.

Doing crosswords, sudoku, and word search puzzles helps him improve his cognitive skills. Educated in international business in Indonesia, he confesses he is sometimes bored while being off work. Through participation in ARBI’s music therapy program, he could pick up his guitar again, a hobby he had enjoyed for years. Likewise, through the walking program, he’s been able to meet with other walkers experiencing similar challenges and lifestyle changes.

Sam says that his recovery journey has been a long road. However, he points out that where he once couldn’t swallow or walk, he’s now getting around assisted by a walker and a cane. A hockey and soccer fan, Sam is determined to walk independently. And at ARBI, we’re here to cheer him on every step of the way.