Meet Sarah L. Hunter

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Grandpa Jim Has a Stroke

A Real-Life Experience
Many storylines in For Better or For Worse are snapshots of real events in Lynn's life. Several years ago, Lynn's mother-in-law, Ruth, had a stroke in her home. Ruth was standing at her stove, with her husband Tom, her son Rod, and Lynn nearby. She turned to face them, said nothing, and simply slid down to the floor. Lynn's recollection of Ruth's stroke has been told through Grandpa Jim.

Because the story about Grandpa Jim's stroke was so true to life, there was not a lot of room for fiction. It was important to research the facts. What resources are available for stroke sufferers? What is a likely prognosis for Jim, and what should be his path for maximizing his quality of life?

Dr. Foell & Aphasia
Lynn consulted with several professionals in the medical community. Among them was a dynamic neurologist named Dr. Blaine Foell, who made a cameo appearance in the comic.

Dr. Foell educated Lynn on typical emergency responses to stroke victims, about their care and medications, and about the changes in brain function that result in changes to language and physical skill.

Under Dr. Foell's care, Jim is living with aphasia as a result of his stroke. Aphasia is a disorder that results from damage to the language centers of the brain. For almost all right-handers and for about half of left-handers, damage to the left side of the brain causes aphasia.

As a result, individuals who were previously able to communicate through speaking, listening, reading, and writing become more limited in their abilities. The most common cause of aphasia is stroke, but gunshot wounds, blows to the head, traumatic brain injury, tumours, and other sources of brain damage can cause aphasia. (Reference: ASHA.org)

Albert and Louise
Lynn befriended a local couple who, like Jim and Iris, are living with the effects of stroke—including aphasia. The husband is recovering some of his abilities through speech and physiotherapy, and his wife is his primary caregiver.

Physiotherapy
Albert and Louise were very pleased to be asked to play a part in Lynn's research, knowing that they may help educate others in similar situations. They welcomed Lynn to Albert's therapy sessions at home, and at a local clinic. In order to travel to these sessions, Lynn needed special permission to board our local Para-bus system.

It was overwhelming and fascinating at the same time, to witness physio professionals manoeuvre their innovative tools and equipment to work with patients to rebuild their skills. Without this indepth view of patient recovery, telling the story of Grandpa Jim would have been next to impossible, and full of inacurracies.

Speech Therapy
Relearning to express sounds and eventually form words is a tedious and frustrating road, albeit a necessary one. With the help of oral and visual tools, working with a speech therapist, patients try and try again to recover or relearn their language skills.

Patient Care with Diane and Sue
The duty and responsibility to take full-time care of a loved one is challenging, consuming, rewarding and at times difficult. Grandpa Jim's wife Iris must depend on community resources to help her care for Jim. Lynn also counted on the expertise of two local nurses who are experienced with physically disabled patients.

Diane and Sue, with the help of a model, demonstrated correct techniques and physical postures necessary to move people who require assistance. Lynn learned transfer procedures to move someone from chair to bed or from chair to bathtub. She learned many techniques to stimulate muscle strength and range of motion in joints, using massage and flexing.

Grandpa Jim is receiving excellent community care, but nothing beats a visit from his family and friends. Communication is so much more than just speech! Reach out and touch someone you love!

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