On January 21, 2012, Robert Baynard of Rougemont laid down for an afternoon nap. When he awoke to take his dog out for his usual evening walk, Robert started staggering and had trouble getting up and down. He went to sleep that night feeling strange, but thinking it wasn’t anything serious.
The next morning, Robert was still feeling strange and by the time he and his wife decided it was time to seek medical attention, he had trouble even getting in the car. They went to the Emergency Department at Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Durham, where they learned Robert had suffered a stroke.
Robert’s MRI revealed three separate spots on his brain, meaning he may have suffered three separate strokes. His left side was paralyzed. “After the stroke, all I could do is lie around and try to get my mind right,” said Robert. “My physicians have told me that other people who suffered multiple strokes like mine usually never walk again.” As a retired minister with Sharon Baptist Church, “I told myself I can conquer this.”
After multiple two-hour therapy sessions, Robert could eventually sit up, and then was able to use a wheelchair. Eventually he was able to walk with the aid of a walker. Through comprehensive rehabilitation at Durham Regional Hospital’s Durham Rehabilitation Institute and advanced physical therapy at Roxboro Nursing and Health Center, Robert made excellent progress.
Robert graduated to a hemi walker, a smaller walker that offers more mobility and independence, but right before advancing to a walking cane in August 2012, Robert suffered a setback. “I was getting in the truck and the door hit my hemi walker and I lost balance and fell. I had to go back to the VA hospital for a partial hip replacement.”
As of April 2013, Robert is still working to walk on his own. He participates in physical therapy two times a day and is doing additional exercises on his own, including upper body strengthening with Thera-Bands, practicing his balance by standing for long periods of time and chair exercises such as squats.
Robert is able to walk multiple laps around his property using his walker, mow the lawn with his ride-on mower and drive short distances in his truck. “I just try to be extra cautious in what I do. My balance and sense of direction are good enough to do certain things safely.”
Through it all, Robert remains optimistic about his progress. “I think I’m doing pretty well. I guess we are never where we want to be, but I’m doing well.”
May is Stroke Awareness Month. Stroke warning signs include the sudden onset of:
- numbness or weakness of the face or limbs
- confusion or trouble speaking
- dizziness or loss of balance
- trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- difficulty walking
- sudden severe headache
If you notice any of these symptoms, call 911. For more information, visit durhamregional.org/stroke.