After Stroke: Christopher’s Experience

"I am very thankful for those that support people like me, and our families, who are living with a stroke."

“I am very thankful for those that support people like me, and our families, who are living with a stroke,” says Christopher Munn.

Christopher Munn was on his Tuesday evening 10K run when he began to experience having a stroke. He suddenly saw flashes in his left eye and had a sharp headache. But when he went to the hospital, they told him it was probably a migraine. He’d never had a migraine before. Two days later, during an office meeting, he couldn’t move his right side.

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“Others noticed. I couldn’t talk. I tried but couldn’t get anyone to understand,” he remembers.

Chris was nothing if not active and healthy before his stroke. He regularly ran with the Owen Sound Running Club, spent time canoeing or skiing outdoors, attended book club meetings and renovated parts of his home.

But the stroke changed all that, greatly impairing his mobility, speech and lifestyle.

“The first night in the hospital after my stroke, I needed to go to the washroom,” he explains. “I wasn’t used to my leg and arm not working. I tried to get up and slid to the floor.”

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Christopher with a fish during a fishing activity at Aphasia Camp

March of Dimes Canada has helped him get back on his feet, offering support programs and subsidizing what his benefits do not cover.

It took seven weeks of rehab to be able to walk with a cane, and he needs ongoing physio three times a week to keep him mobile. He also joined the MODC Aphasia & Communications Disabilities Program (ACDP) for weekly speech therapy, and attends the After Stroke Support Group once a month to help integrate him back into a normal life.

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Chris and his wife during an adaptable bike ride at aphasia camp in St. George, 2016.

“[March of Dimes Canada] staff and volunteers are wonderful – so encouraging and supportive,” he says.

Today, Chris is adapting to a new life. “I miss jogging and hiking. I go for walks,” he explains. “I am trying to adjust to doing things differently.” It takes a great deal of effort, but he’s able to complete small tasks around the house, have conversations, and read books. He’s also taken up new hobbies, including art and dance, and is optimistic that with continued support, he’ll one day be able to bike again.

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Chris titles this “The Healing Power of Nature”

In Canada, over 400,000 people like Christopher have survived a stroke. We are helping families like Christopher’s by offering support, rehabilitation services, education and caregiver support through our nationwide After Stroke program. Visit the After Stroke website at afterstroke.marchofdimes.ca for more information and resources.

Volunteer Spotlight: Jane Parsons

Volunteer Spotlight: May 2018

Volunteer Spotlight: Jane Parsons

Our volunteers are the best and we appreciate them for all the work they do.  This year we’re spotlighting them so we can get to know a little more of their interests! May’s spotlight is Jane Parsons. See her profile below!

Name: Jane Parsons

Nominated by: Devon Evershed

Volunteer Position: Peers Fostering Hope – Peer Visitor

What is your favorite part about volunteering with MODC?

I love to help others in their recovery.

If you read – what’s a good book you would recommend?

Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden, and The Marriage of Opposites – Alice Hoffman.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

This I struggled with as no one power would help everyone! But if I had to have one, it would be to cure any child illness.

What is your go-to dessert?

Cheesecake and Rhubarb Pie

What is your favourite movie?

Sound of Music.

We asked Devon why she nominated this volunteer?

Jane is in her fourth year of volunteering with the Peers Fostering Hope (PFH) program. As a hospital volunteer she visits new stroke survivors and provides much needed inspiration and hope. She is a reliable and dedicated volunteer, who speaks positively about the PFH program to potential new volunteers by explaining the impact the program has made on her life and the difference that she feels she is making with others. Her honest and open communication is helpful to the patients she visits and other volunteers, who benefit from her wisdom.

In 2017, she joined a pilot project for community visiting as part of the PFH program. In this pilot she was matched with two individuals. She provided emotional support, helped with goal setting, and helped with accessing programs, to support reintegration into the community after stroke. According to one individual she supported: “She talks about what she’s gone through and what’s worked for her—it helps me know what’s coming. It prepares me as I go through the process and makes me feel like I’m not the only one who’s been through this.” She has been very proactive not only in her efforts to support these individuals but also in providing updates on her matches and suggestions to those who were administering the program. Jane, along with other volunteers from the program, have addressed a gap in care for stroke survivors and provided support during a crucial time of transition from hospital to home. It has been wonderful having Jane give back as part of the Peers Fostering Hope program.

How long have you been an MODC volunteer?

4 Years.

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If you’d like to learn more about March of Dimes Canada’s volunteering opportunities, please visit this landing page from the website: http://bit.ly/MODCVol

Green banner with 'Carol Agnew' written on it. Purple background with photo of Carol smiling in the middle. Green speech bubble saying "New Community Blog Post!". Text at bottom says "Carol's experience with Urban Pole Walking"

Carol Agnew’s experience with Urban Pole Walking

Green banner with 'Carol Agnew' written on it. Purple background with photo of Carol smiling in the middle. Green speech bubble saying "New Community Blog Post!". Text at bottom says "Carol's experience with Urban Pole Walking"
Written by Carol Agnew

In May 2016, I had a Lt Hemorrhagic Stroke. Prior to that, I had been quite physically active, hiking, going to yoga , working out at our local YMCA and snow shoeing in the winter. I did the Terry Fox Run every year. After my stroke, I couldn’t do any of those well loved activities.

Initially, I had in-home therapies through CCAC, to improve my speech and walking skills. In late August, my walking balance had improved and my OT (Occupational Therapist) asked if I had ever heard of Urban Pole Walking. I had several friends who had bought poles, with the intention of pole walking in the summer, so they would be ready for snow shoeing in the winter. However, they had never used them. I got the contact name from my therapist and called the contact person for our local March of Dimes Canada Urban Pole Walking Group. This also led me to Orillia’s Stroke Survivor’s and Caregiver’s Support Group.

When I commented that I was “pretty tippy” and another person said “ We’re all pretty tippy here” I didn’t feel so alone.

My friends started taking me to our local mall on Tuesday mornings for pole walking.  It was a challenging, but wonderful experience. I was able to connect with people, who were experiencing the same struggles and successes as I was. When I commented that I was “pretty tippy” and another person said “ We’re all pretty tippy here” I didn’t feel so alone. I had never met other people who had survived a stroke before and it was wonderful to talk to them over coffee, get tips and talk about shared experiences.

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Carol Agnew describing her experiences with Urban Poling – (Video to come!)

The first day of pole walking was really hard. I couldn’t get my poles and my feet to work together. I certainly couldn’t walk & talk!

However, as the Tuesday mornings went by, I was able to go longer distances and soon discovered that I could pole walk while talking. I was improving my both motor skills and endurance, as well as having a social experience with other stoke survivors and my friends.

..I have gained much more. My motor skills and endurance have improved as well as my speech. I have also made several new friends. Going out weekly for a fun activity has made me feel less isolated.

My initial goal for joining the pole walking group was to improve my walking skills, my balance and my endurance for physical activities. However, I have gained much more. My motor skills and endurance have improved as well as my speech. Just as important is that I have also made several new friends. Going out weekly for a fun activity has made me feel less isolated. I have gotten new links to community resources from other survivors, as well as the wonderful volunteers and Pauline Berry from March of Dimes Canada. An unexpected bonus for me was that last weekend, I was actually able to go snow shoeing. That was something I had thought I would never enjoy again. I certainly didn’t go far- just to the fence & back, but I was out enjoying winter again with my friends. Every small success is really a huge accomplishment for a stroke survivor.

World Stroke Day October 29, 2017. Did you know that walking with ACTIVATOR Urban Poles can save lives? Get involved >

In the lead up to World Stroke Day on October 29, 2017 we’ve partnered with UrbanPoling to help promote keeping an active lifestyle through a simple but effective activity – walking! During all of October, Urban Poling will donate 10% of online ACTIVATOR™ pole sales to our Stroke Recovery Canada® (SRC) Program. Take a look at the ACTIVATOR™ poles specs & the benefits of using them: http://bit.ly/UPACTWSD17

If you’re near a participating Guardian & IDA store (http://bit.ly/MODCWSD17) & decide to buy an ACTIVATOR™ Pole in person,  donating $10 to SRC will also get you a free set of snow baskets (for your poles in Winter!).