Regaining mobility and independence isn’t always about one person; partners and carers are a key part of that journey of recovery.
That was certainly the case with The Physio Co client Arthur, whose wife Kathy played a crucial part in him regaining mobility – and his zest for life.
Kathy says it was always Arthur who took care of the day-to-day arrangements in their lives. Kathy admits she’s a bit of an introvert and was happy to let super-organised Arthur run the show.
He has an amazing memory (he worked in student admin at Australian Catholic University for 24 years) and always made sure Kathy was on time for appointments.
This devoted couple have been married for 52 years (and have three children, who live in the US and Melbourne, plus a handful of grandchildren).
Arthur even used to make Kathy breakfast in bed every morning; he cooked, cleaned and took care of many tasks. She knew she did not have to worry about anything.
But then Arthur suffered a stroke, and it was Kathy who became Arthur’s carer.
While Arthur was in rehab, the medics said he would never walk or talk again. But they reckoned without his quiet determination.
Arthur’s goal when he teamed up with The Physio Co was to be able to safely walk down the front steps on his own so he could tinker in the garden without having to worry he might fall.
Being in the great outdoors is great for keeping our body and mind healthy – especially now the fine weather is on its way.
Structured exercise plan
With the help of TPC physio Maddy, the couple embarked on this mission to get Arthur back into the garden, and to regain his independence in other ways.
Maddy was crucial to creating a structured exercise plan with achievable goals. Kathy says of finding her: “We feel we have won Tattslotto. We love having Maddy. She’s a great physio.”
Kathy, who often does exercises with Arthur to keep herself active, takes up the story: “Before physio, Arthur was quite depressed and did not want to do anything. I was concerned he was going to sit in his chair all day. Before his stroke he was passionate about things like gardening.
“By finding what Arthur was passionate about, it really helped motivate him to do his exercises. It has made such a difference. I used to be in the garden alone, whereas now he is out there beside me, telling me what to do!”
The sessions with Maddy haven’t just helped Arthur – they’ve helped Kathy, too.
“I used to worry about going to the grocery store, fearful Arthur would have a fall,” she says. “Now that he is a bit more mobile, I have no fears of this happening.”
He now gets up and folds the washing and does the vacuuming. He still has a bit of trouble communicating – and looks to Kathy for help – but remarkably can still sing his favourite country songs.
Kathy says the importance of having targets during recovery can’t be overstated.
“Arthur was always a determined person, which has helped him to reach the goals he has achieved today,” she says.
When one partner suffers a serious health setback such as a stroke it can put strain on everyone, so Kathy has this advice for couples and carers in a similar situation.
“Just be there – and meet each other halfway. Be mindful that you will have good days and bad days, so take each day as it comes and never give up,” she says.
“I never thought I could be a carer. I also find strength in God; Arthur’s stroke has deepened my faith. Sounds silly, but it’s true.”
Kathy is glowing in her praise for their TPC physio Maddy: “In the past we saw professionals who never really understood the consequence of a stroke or the impact it has on your life. Maddy understands, and explains everything well. She is doing such a wonderful job. Arthur even grabs the vacuum cleaner before she arrives so she comes into a clean home.”
Well done to Arthur and Maddy – and a special shout out to Kathy for showing what a crucial part our loved ones play in smashing goals on the road to recovery.