It seems that each week, I hear from someone who has been told by their doctor “not to expect any further recovery.” Most recently, I heard this from a young man who had an incomplete Spinal Cord Injury only a few months ago! Such a statement by a doctor is utter non-sense, so I ask myself “Why would someone say that?”. What I have decided is that health care professionals play it safe by not promoting any form of expectation from their patients. If someone is told they will never do anything again, and then they accomplish something they are pleasantly pleased… in fact, they feel that they have beat the odds.
I think we need to let people expect more. We need to instill hope through information and education and resources. No false promises, but rather the opportunity to believe in the power of neurorecovery and the strength and resilience of the human spirit.
Well two months after meeting that young man, he has already made tremendous gains and yet the words of his doctor still haunt him. It will take a long time to diffuse the negativity of comments that are destructive to the potential of hope, handwork and neuroplasticity.
I have been working in NeuroRehab for over 25 years now. Some days are sad days. My daughter says that I am a “Healer”. She says it is o.k. to feel sad sometimes. Helping people along the path of recovery can sometimes be emotionally draining, and I want to cry by the end of the day. Other times it can be so amazingly rewarding that I want to cry, not from sadness but from joy! I have learned to appreciate each day. To notice the little things. To try and be kind to everyone regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, or socio-economic level. We are all just people. Doesn’t matter how impressive of a life one lives, if it can all be reduced to a common denominator by stroke!