My Name is Bernard A. Gaines Sr. I am 50 years old. On December 5th 2005 my life changed forever. I woke up and went to work as I did on any normal day feeling fine. Around lunch time I began to have a massive headache and felt very dizzy. I did not know what was wrong and just wanted to go home to bed. I spoke with my supervisor and for some unknown reason he wanted me to be checked out by the paramedics. Little did I know that this was a life-saving intervention. At the time when help arrived I had no signs or symptoms other than the headache but they insisted on taking me to the hospital. When I arrived at the hospital they asked me a lot of questions. All of a sudden I felt something was happening to my body. I immediately began to tell the nurse to call my family and gave her the phone number. Just as I was finishing I felt like I was going to die. My body began to shake and I could not speak, then I passed out.
I awoke three days later. I had tubes everywhere in my body, I couldn’t move. I saw my family standing over me. The doctor was present at the time and explained that I had suffered a stroke. He then proceeded to show me my face in a mirror. In retrospect that was one of my worst moments. Tests were performed and it was determined that the left side of my body was paralyzed. I could not talk, eat, or swallow.
I received a small amount of rehabilitation but was given little hope of ever walking again. By some miracle someone from Sarasota Memorial Hospital was at the hospital checking the charts and offered me a chance to go to rehab in Sarasota. I was transferred that day to Sarasota Memorial Comprehensive Rehab. Life was totally different there. They gave me hope.
The next day I began my therapy evaluations for Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy. I had each of these therapies twice a day. In the beginning I was in a wheel chair and unable to dress myself, toilet myself, shower or transfer. I started gradually to stand and then take steps using a hemi walker. I had uncontrollable emotions. Laughter was the overriding emotion at the time. I did have moments of tearfulness too.
After one month of intensive rehab I was discharged to my home and went to rehab on an out-patient basis three times a week. I still had no use of my left arm but was able to walk with a quad cane after a few weeks. My arm was beginning to give me a lot of pain. It was what is called subluxed, in other words falling out of the socket due to weakness. I had a lot of swelling in my hand and had to wear a tight glove and a shoulder harness to keep my arm in place.
After several months I was discharged from out-patient rehab. My thoughts were, now what? After a lot of determination and hard work as well as prayer I have made an 80% recovery. I am now a board member of the Stroke Association of Florida and work hard in the community to increase awareness of stroke.