I've been told that recovering use of the hand after stroke is "tricky." When I question occupational therapists that I like and trust about my prognosis, their faces become shielded and their speech careful. Almost two years into recovery, I appreciate why predictions in a case like mine are unwise. So much depends on my willingness to perform hours and hours of boring, demoralizing exercises.
The 4 1/2-minute film below shows me performing my current hour-long exercise routine. I've edited the long pauses required to unclench my fingers after each effort to use them. The routine is a variation of grasping and releasing POOF balls, which I've done almost every day for the past 20 months. If you find the film tedious, then it's a good representation of what it feels like to rehabilitate my hand. Progress is agonizingly slow.
But I am making progress. I think back to three months post-stroke when, summoning all my concentration, I could just twitch my middle finger. Still I want more.
I've been reluctant to write about rehabilitating my hand. Writing brings clarity and I haven't wanted to look too closely at the hope and dogged determination that keeps me going. I fear not recovering my hand. I fear being foolish for continuing to try past the point of progress. That point hasn't come yet, but as I approach my two-year anniversary, I feel an urgency to push myself to the next level of achievement.