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    Dealing with strokes

    Hi ya'll
    It's been a while since I posted. mainly because I'm dealling with a problem new to me.

    Back at the beginning of December I had a stroke. This one was strange because the symptoms were not classic. I taught my Sunday Schol class as usual. When it was over, I got up and thought my foot had gone to sleep. I didn't give it too much attention and went through the a.m. service without giving it much thought. At the end of the service I found it difficult to get my key into my car's ignition, but I managed to drive home safely enough.

    That afternoon I sat down to practice as I often do. I could not read music anymore and my fingers would not obey my brain neither would my right foot. Now I was getting a bit scared! I told my wife I would go to the doctors tomorrow and went to bed early.
    The doctor discovered my blood pressure was through the roof and ordered an mri to see what was going on. I had driven there ok and didn't feel too bad.

    Long story short. the MRI showed a bleed in the brain and I came home with some blood pressure meds.
    Now to the present. Almost three months later I can read music again. My right hand is weak. Fingers droop and I play more wrong notes than I used to. Right foot is also sloppy and easily plays pedal notes that it should. I wak with a pronounced limp. The prognosis is vague. I may regain normal usage or I may not. The doc thinks playing the organ is some of the best therapy I can get. So that is treatment I can live with. I'm 74, I used to feel like 60. Now I feel 80.

    I don't tell you all this to ellicit sympathy. Maybe to warn, not to ignore weird symptoms, although I don't think that would have made much difference in my case. Looking back, I had a funny incident last summer when I suddenly forgot several measures of music. I even posted here about it. Now I wonder if it was an early warning. The music came back but not as well as before.

    The purpose is to solicit your input. I was never a great player. I' ve been playing for five years. I feel like I've slipped back at least two years. I don't know what grade level I was at. I love Bach and was quite comfortable with BWV 622. and 731. seems like I'm spending quite a bit of time on 'Come Sweet Death'. Don't worry I'm not suicidal, just my wry sense of English humor, plus I really do like it.
    Anyway, your suggestions are welome re, coping strategies and I am open to share more of the issues, but I don't want to bore you.

    John, I have enjoyed your input in the thread about VPOs in fact it was your comments about aging that prompted me to write this.
    Strokes are strange it seems as though each day I find something effected that I hadn't noticed at first, short term memory issues, vision issues and they tend to get worse when I'm tired. I'm currently scanning my music so I can print it in landscape mode for better visibility.
    Enough for now. Please excuse long post.

    Happier note, dogs are good for strokes. They will drag me around any time I want to go out.
    Allen ADC 1000
    Large Beagle

    #2
    Dogstar,

    Sorry to hear of your temporary (I hope!) limitations. Music is, indeed, an excellent form of therapy, as it employs both sides of the brain. I'm sure your doctor has already explained the concept of plasticity in the brain, and its implications--that other parts of the brain can take over functions formerly controlled by damaged parts of the brain.

    To help bridge the gaps, try playing the left hand notes with the right hand, and vice-versa. It will make for some interesting physical gymnastics, but the process may help build those new connections to other parts of the brain.

    For literature, I'd suggest going back to something you know well (or used to know well), and use the familiarity of the piece to also help build those new connections--perhaps some of the 8 Little Preludes and Fugues. Once the pathways have been re-established, you should be able to pick up with some of your more advanced pieces.

    Thank you for your cautionary tale, and being so open in the detail. I appreciate your contributions on the Forum, and look forward to your continued progress and future reports on your progress. I hope this helps a bit.

    Michael

    P.S. Great idea about the large print versions of music. Too bad they weren't more readily available.
    Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
    • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
    • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
    • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

    Comment


      #3
      Sorry to hear about your experience. I am now of similar age and I am experiencing ever increasing "things" that were not there before. Just this morning I was kind of complaining to my wife about rheumatic pain in the hands, the knees that are forever aching etc.... I put all these down to that phenomenon called "collective years". But to hear of your experience has the effect of twitching one's ears a little and purposely becoming more aware of exactly where that new pain is and how it affects one's normal movements etc.
      So, glad to have you back! And your obvious will to continue making sweet music is perhaps a lesson to us more fortunate ones.
      Great going. We hope to hear some more good news from you soon.
      God bless!
      Nico
      "Don't make war, make music!" Hammonds, Lowreys, Yamaha's, Gulbransens, Baldwin, Technics, Johannus. Reed organs. Details on request...

      Comment


        #4
        As a great man once said, "Never Give Up!" Sounds like you're doing all the right things. Relax and have fun, expect that tomorrow will be a little better than today.

        I'm 67 and have been beset by a raft of physical ailments in recent years. Fortunately, things have turned around somewhat in the past few months, as I simply got various things under control, realized my limits, upped my walking and other physical activity geared toward fitness. Not that I'm any fine example of fitness freak, but my halting efforts demonstrate that improvement is possible.

        Ditto to all of Michael's suggestions about practice. You are almost certain to fully regain your playing level and keep on climbing. I have a friend, now 82, who suffered a similar stroke in his 70's, and totally recovered, drives his car regularly on cross-country trips, has resumed a rigorous self-employed work schedule. No lingering effects that I know of. So just keep on keeping on. God bless!
        John
        ----------
        Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
        Home: Rodgers Allegiant 677 with expanded four-channel audio
        Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
        Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
        https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

        Comment


          #5
          Thank you for your kind responses. I will certainly be giving your suggestions some effort.
          Reading over my original post I noted it didn't do much for some of my spelling either. I checked before hitting post but it snook by me.

          It was your comments on adding midi that struck me, John. After I bought the Allen I had hoped to midify it, but I doubt I will do that now. I know we would probably all like to access some of those lovely sounds via HW. I don't really see myself poking around in there with a soldering iron anymore. I've come to really enjoy the Allen anyway.

          I watched a documentary on Glenn Gould last night. I knew he died young, just fifty. I hadn't realized he died of the complications of a stroke. Someone on Youtube described it as a pianist's worst enemy because even if you survive it you will have to relearn quite bit.
          I would add, especially annoying, when you didn't know a lot to start with
          Allen ADC 1000
          Large Beagle

          Comment


            #6


            Please stay encouraged. My problem was not related to a stroke, however, about fifteen years ago I woke up with a partially paralyzed left hand and I fully recovered after nine months. At first, I was horrified and the cause was unknown. I could make a fist, but could not open or lift my fingers. Once I could finally lift my index finger up about 1/8", progress started and no setbacks. However, the recovery was slow and at first I could only use my fingers for a very short time at the organ. They would become fatigued quickly, stopped moving and had to rest several hours between sessions at my home organ.


            During this long paralyzed time, I continued church organ service playing by only playing soprano and alto voices with my right hand and bass with my feet. The congregation got along just fine without hearing the tenor voice that I had been playing with my left hand. I played easier pieces for prelude, offertory and postlude: RH and pedals. May God speed your recovery and give you His peace.
            Lloyd

            Happily retired organist/pianist from the Church of the Brethren...Allen ADC-4300-DK.
            Home...Wurlitzer (ES) Orgatron Series 20 Serial #11608 (retrofitted with MIDI and VPO-Hauptwerk) with Leslie 44W (shorty).
            Hammond BC Serial #5070 with Leslie 31A (tallboy) tone cabinet
            A.L. Swan antique pump organ (C.1852) Cherry Valley NY
            Member of the Lutheran Church (LCMS): traditional worship. Cleveland Clinic Spiritual Care volunteer with the chaplain's office.

            Comment


              #7
              Hi Dogstar,

              My compassion.

              I think your doctor is absolutely right: continuing with organ playing is the best conceivable therapy for the dysfunction of your hand and foot.
              And don't forget gait training; are you in rehabilitation or in training with a physiotherapist? I would strongly advise that.

              One additional advice. Myorgan said: try playing the left hand notes with the right hand, and vice-versa,
              This is surely right.
              But please also play 'normal', because when it comes to improve the function of your right hand (and foot!) you have also to use it in its proper function, as most rehabilitation guidelines say. I.e. a Dutch Stroke guideline: one need to train the proper function to improve (if possible - and it is possible for you if I read your story). Training is specific for the function the is to be improved (the brain forms new connections as a response to the function that is required).

              The other advices, I.e. "stay encouraged" I only can reinforce. And, begin with the easiest possible pieces and gradually work your way up to your 'pre-stroke' skills.

              I wish you a lot of strength, success, and the help of God.

              Regards, Dutchy (PT)

              Comment


                #8
                Thanks again for all your kind words.
                I just thought I would update you a bit on progress. As of this week I have now had five sessions of physiotherapy and I think it is definitely helping. I get tired more quickly but I guess that's to be expected.
                Rather than just Bach, I'm trying to refresh my memory on some simpler works. This evening I had a very pleasant time with just a few of the simpler old hymns. I warm up with some scales in the right hand which is my weak spot. I find that to be good therapy by itself and my therapist agrees.
                So there is some progress, which encourages one to keep going. I'm hopeful now anyway. PTL.

                Dave
                Allen ADC 1000
                Large Beagle

                Comment


                  #9
                  Great news Dave! Thanks for updating us. Please stay at it - we are praying for your complete recovery.
                  God bless!
                  Nico
                  "Don't make war, make music!" Hammonds, Lowreys, Yamaha's, Gulbransens, Baldwin, Technics, Johannus. Reed organs. Details on request...

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Glad you are still kicking, so to speak. My grandmother had a severe hemorrhagic stroke three years ago. Unfortunately she didn't make it. Malpractice was a large part of it. So I'm glad you're alright. I agree with your doctor that playing music is a good therapy. I also know from my grandmother's stroke that music helps heal the brain as well, so if you're working the fingers by playing and the mind by hearing what you're playing, that is pretty good. Praying for a total recovery!
                    Allen ADC-220 - 1986; Conn 465 Deluxe Caprice w/pair of 144 pipe speakers; Kimball: R-80 Broadway, S-20 Valencia III; Western Cottage Organ Co. Reed Organ
                    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                    P22 piano/10 keyboards/synths; 10 accordions; Ntv Am. Flute/PAC112V guitar/etc

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Yes indeed! Keep at it. My trials with shoulder problems are certainly not on a par with your stroke, but I was about as discouraged as a person could be when I was faced with first one arm and then both arms basically just hanging limp at my side after a work injury. Surgery on one shoulder followed, with 3 or 4 months of therapy, but progress was slow. The other shoulder didn't get the surgery, but I have continued to work on both of them using the shoulder machines at the gym. It's been over three years since the injury and I still can't raise my hands above my head without great effort, but I'm thankful that I can play the organ about as well (or poorly) as I ever could, after a lengthy uphill battle.

                      So hang in there and enjoy every little bit of progress. A year from now, a couple years, you may surprise yourself with how much you've recovered. A friend of mine had a stroke in his 70's but now at 82 he's back to working his part time business and driving himself and his wife on long trips. If he has any remaining effects I can't spot them.
                      John
                      ----------
                      Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
                      Home: Rodgers Allegiant 677 with expanded four-channel audio
                      Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
                      Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
                      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Hi Dogstar,

                        Glad to hear of your progression. Keep going! Normally the recovery rate of stroke slows down with time, so don't be disappointed when there comes a moment that no remarkable progression is made for some time. But I know from people who didn't give up, and in the long run became nearly as good as they were before the stroke. Just as the friend of Jbird.

                        Blessings!

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