Everyday emergencies and stresses creep into our lives uninvited and affect us in unnoticed ways. Last year in the Paradise Camp Fire, the loss of our home and the chaos that lasted for months conspired to affect my husband’s health. At the end of March, 2019, Carl had a massive stroke affecting his left side. The medical facility saved his life and started important therapies. After more than 3 weeks we were sent home with over 30 pages of discharge instructions, a walker and cane, a myriad of medications, doctor’s appointments and more. He had brain impairment, confusion, left side weakness and a vision cut.
Several weeks earlier, I visited my niece at Weimar where she participated in the Newstart Lifestyle program. Weimar sits at the Sierra Foothills with lush evergreen trees filled with singing birds, miles of hiking and walking trails, offerings of plant based foods and water therapy treatments. The guests I met had a wide variety of chronic ailments. It was impressive to learn about their progress, feel the staff’s compassion and even enjoy a delicious dining room meal.
Traditional post stroke care is generally structured with appointments with a variety of specialists, prescriptions and a succession of specialized therapies. We opted instead to enroll in the very next available Newstart session. Some of our family members were more than a little concerned and checked out the Newstart Lifestyle Program online. They attempted to access the program based on traditional medical guidelines. The literature did not mention stroke as a chronic disease and it appeared not to have the necessary structure for Carl’s recovery. We however recognized that the triggers to make one highly susceptible to having a stroke had been silently lying dormant; high stress, high blood pressure, cholesterol, weight gain, lack of regular exercise and an inconsistent diet. We needed to address the triggers to reduce the possibility of a second stroke.
Today we are glad that we chose Newstart as his first post hospital therapy. Unlike other programs, we were deeply impressed by the spiritual commitment and the sincere prayers on our behalf from the doctors, and every staff member we encountered. Within the first four days of following the program, Carl’s vision cut disappeared. We cried for joy as he realized that objects no longer appeared to jump in front of the car as I drove down the road. A few days later, with the assistance of the hot and cold treatments, he began walking without any assistance of his trek poles. With the help of Bonnie, one of the other participants, Carl began singing and reading the words in the hymnal as our impromptu choir gathered around the piano.