Interview of Dale Duley
By Carl Boockholdt
Life changes. This is a fact that is all too evident to most stroke survivors. Dale Duley is one of those stroke survivors whose life has been drastically changed by stroke. That stroke occurred on February 28, 2014. Prior to the time of the stroke Dale worked as a regional manager for a large school bus company. It was a high-pressure job with a lot of responsibility, but Dale handled it well and was advancing in the corporation. Ironically, the day before the stroke Dale had accepted a promotion to Director of School Bus Safety.
The day of the stroke was busy. Dale’s workday started at 6am and was followed by further personal commitments. After a long, full day Dale thought a nap was in order. After a couple of hours, he awoke with a tingling in his arm. Thinking he had slept on it wrong he didn’t give it much thought and went on with his evening and then, to bed. However, when he got up for his mid slumber bathroom break, he noticed the tingling was still present and in addition, he had trouble keeping his balance. This, he thought, was just a touch of vertigo. It wasn’t until morning after getting up that he decided something wasn’t right and headed to the ER.
At 53 years old Dale didn’t even consider the possibility of a stroke. The resident physician at the ER had a different opinion. Dale was transported by ambulance to the main campus of the hospital for further evaluation where he was told he had suffered an Ischemic stroke. After 2 days in ICU Dale spent 3 days in hospital rehab, then another 4 weeks of inpatient rehab. The stroke had affected his right side. He couldn’t stand or walk without help. His right foot was inverted, and he couldn’t swallow, plus he was having difficulty grasping objects and writing. Four weeks of inpatient therapy got him to the point where he could walk with a cane and grasp things with his right hand. Things progressed well for a couple of years until Dale succumbed to a non-stroke related illness that landed him in the hospital for 2 weeks. Unfortunately, the additional medical issues resulted in Dale’s loss of the ability to walk without a walker, leading to more rehabilitation.
Currently, Dale goes to therapy as frequently as his insurance will allow. The additional sessions have helped him with his walking and endurance. He also works on improving his posture and overcoming a head tilt that he has dealt with since the onset of the stroke. Dale still struggles with short term memory and muscle spasms. Although therapy was effective in getting Dale back to work after the stroke, he eventually had to go on disability as his mobility declined.
Despite the challenges Dale remains optimistic and upbeat. Shortly after the stroke Dale’s doctor prescribed medicine to combat depression and anxiety. Dale feels that even though his prescription has had to be updated from time to time, the quick introduction of the meds helped him maintain his attitude and outlook. Even with the help of the medication Dale has struggled psychologically on occasion. For those times Dale found a lot of relief through outpatient non-medical therapy. Dale states, “The therapy was incredibly positive for me. I learned some additional coping skills. Being able to confide in a safe place with people going through their own struggles was one of the positive things from that therapy”.
And, while one of Dale’s persistent challenges during this whole odyssey has been his ability to ask for help, he is quick to voice his appreciation for the immense support he has received from his immediate family and his employer.
Dale admonishes other stroke survivors to stay positive, don’t be embarrassed to ask for help, take care of your mental health, exercise, socialize, and don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself and your occasional faux pas. Remember, “The smallest improvement is a step in the right direction”. And “DON’T QUIT!”.
As a final note Dale would like to share one of his favorite poems, written by an anonymous author and found on the internet. It’s one of the small things that has helped Dale be a “Stroke Survivor who CAN!
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer, with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns.
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up, though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man.
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup.
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success and failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are.
It may be near when it seems so far.
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.
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