Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Location, Location, Location

My affected side has been very stiff and sore lately. My therapists tell me it’s because of the change in the weather. I live in Los Angeles and despite daytime temperatures this fall often registering above 80°F, there is a chill in the air at night.

I think about my stroke friends who live on the East Coast or in Canada and wonder how they contend with the snow and freezing temperatures. It's so much more than the dangers of walking or driving on ice, or the effort required to put on and take off extra layers. It's the way the cold settles into the muscles and makes them less effective and more painful than usual.

It reminds me how lucky I am to be where I am in dealing with life post-stroke. It's not just the weather — it's the depth of medical help available to me that isn't available to others. I know a Canadian survivor whose nearest neurologist is a two-hour drive away. From the rural Midwest, a reader of my blog contacted me with questions about how to help her husband regain functionality in his hand; the only occupational therapist within driving distance had dismissed her husband, saying there was nothing more to do for him.

I am not only geographically closer to my medical team, I have a choice whom to work with: I had the luxury of firing both my first occupational therapist and my first neurologist.

I hope that I’m not making survivors who are not located as beneficially as me feel bad. (If it makes you feel better, I’ve paid for it in traffic jams, air pollution and skin cancer.) I just wanted to point out that location is one more factor that has an impact on our recovery.


  1. I rarely think about the cold because I grew up in Chicago. The chools closed only 2 times in 20 years and we had some serious snow. I hear what you are saying about access to health care.

  2. Marcelle I wish I had the luxury of being able to fire my first neurologist - unfortunately he is the only one in town and the nearest town is over an hours drive. Combined with a broken shoulder two months before the stroke - driving has not been an option. I couldn't agree more - location is everything when it comes to recovery!

  3. Cold and stroke act so weird together. I have had similar experiences and I have found that Heattech from Uniqlo is a small comfort. Whether it's mental or what, it helps. You're not alone though! That heavy feeling of your limbs...ugh it sucks.