Tuesday, November 13, 2012


This photo of Harold was taken late last summer. He's sitting sideways, for some reason, in his favorite chair, surrounded by his books, his cat, and NPR playing in the background. The photo is a reminder of all the good times we had last summer: on the Cape, with family, and on the deck overlooking the river.

It occurs to me that it is increasingly possible that Harold's story will have a happy ending. Or, like the proverbial cat, he still has many of those nine lives left. He is patiently and steadfastly recuperating from the stroke he suffered. His determination impresses all those who work with him at the rehab hospital, and he is lucky to have a remarkably resilient body.

Today I visited toward the end of his physical therapy hour and was surprised to learn that he had already walked three laps around the 9th floor. I watched him walk a fourth lap and saw that there was no difference in gait with his left and right legs. His speed has not quite reached the level of "strolling" yet, but he had a good, easy rhythm. He is finding it easier to chat, and the islands of fluency his speech and language therapist mentioned are more and more apparent.

Strokes are mean, insidious things, but Harold's surprising progress reminds me of the old half-empty glass. I can focus on how unfortunate it is that he suffered this stoke, or I can focus on his amazing courage and adaptability as he fights his way back to what he calls "normal" once more.

Obviously, he's the one calling the shots and, eternal optimist that he is, it is newly clear to me that he wants me to focus on how far he's come in six weeks, not on how much he lost. I will try to remember to take another photo of him in that same chair a year from now, in the hope that he will look every bit as good.  

Comeback stories are inspirational at any age, and Harold deserves all the credit in the world for his own remarkable journey. 

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