Ticket to Ride

Rummaging through my wallet the other day, it occurred to me that out of all the cards I’ve managed to accumulate through the years, only three made any kind of impact. The first was the library card, which became my gateway to knowledge. The second was the driver’s license, which became my gateway to freedom. Finally I became a mover, a shaker and a captain of industry with the American Express card. OK, I may be exaggerating, but it did help pay off those speeding tickets and overdue book fines.

But none of them could match the impact of the Holy Grail of disability: The Handicap Parking Permit. It was like the State of New York handing me the keys to a luxury high-rise condo. Even Derek Jeter didn’t have this. I’m “Livin’ La Vida Loca.” That blue and white guy in the wheelchair is the Beverly Hills of parking lot real estate where the three most important words are “location, location, location.” And that’s what the handicap spot is all about. No middle class here. There are the Fortunate ones … me … who have access to all the important stuff like … The Entrance. And then there are the Unfortunates … them … who have to trudge across miles of macadam to reach it.

The day it arrived I was more excited than when I got my Flash Gordon decoder ring. Marilyn and I hopped into the Civic, hit the road and headed to the nearest Stop & Shop ready to hang our elite membership over the rearview mirror and slip into our rightful place. We could have, if we were driving a shopping cart. Apparently “HANDICAP PARKING ONLY” really means “SHOPPING CART STORAGE AREA.” These things were all over the place.It was like a demolition derby gone wild. C’mon guys! You’re right at the door.

We may be relatively inexperienced living at these rarified heights, but I bet the word “defeat” isn’t in Jeter’s vocabulary, and it’s not in ours either. We enacted Plan B and headed to a matinee screening of “Batman Begins” thinking we would have the theater, and parking lot, to ourselves. Wrong! The place was packed. Every handicap spot was taken. I had a stroke to qualify but I guess all you need now is a hangnail. I’m surprised we didn’t see the Batmobile in a handicap spot.

“Holy packed parking lot, Batman!”

“Not to worry, Boy Wonder. I have a handicap parking permit here on my toolbelt.”

“Holy scam the system, Batman! How did you get that?”

“Commissioner Gordon owed me a favor, Robin.”

There were handicap spots at the drugstore next to the theater, but they were filled with … shopping carts. We circled the lot like a 747 waiting for the OK from the tower. Sure, there were regular spots, but I ignored them. I had the Holy Grail, and I was on a mission. Finally, we located a handicap spot across the street and pulled in. As we were savoring the moment a woman, who must have deputized herself the Handicap Police, circled us, leaned on her horn, and pointed furiously at the restricted sign. Defiant, I held the permit up, channeled my best Schwarzenegger and said, “Hasta la vista, baby.”

Adapted from Life at the Curb in the November/December 2007 issue of Stroke Connection magazine. 

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Stroke Rehabilitation

Making the Best Decisions at Discharge After Stroke

The type of rehabilitation and support systems a survivor receives at discharge can strongly influence health outcomes and recovery. In this, the first part of a two-part series on stroke rehab, we offer guidance for the decision-making process required when it’s time to leave the hospital.

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AHA-ASA Resources

The Support Network

When faced with challenges recovering from heart disease or stroke, it’s important to have emotional support. That is why we created a network to connect patients and loved ones with others during their journey.

Caregiver Guide to Stroke

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Stroke Support Group Finder

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Let's Talk About Stroke Patient Information Sheets

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Request Free Stroke Information Packets

Fill out this online form to request free information about a variety of post-stroke topics.
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Stroke & Parts of the Brain

When Stroke Affects the Occipital Lobe

Our occipital lobe, the smallest of the four lobes of the cerebral cortex, controls how we visually interpret our world.

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The parietal lobe helps us make sense of sensory information, like where our bodies and body parts are in space, our sense of touch, and the part of our vision that deals with the location of objects.

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When Stroke Affects the Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe has several functions, mainly involved with memory, perception and language.

When Stroke Affects the Brain Stem

The brain stem serves as a bridge in the nervous system. It sits at the top of the spinal column in the center of the brain. When a stroke happens there, it can cause a few different deficits and, in the most severe cases, can lead to locked-in syndrome.

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The thalamus can be thought of as a "relay station," receiving signals from the brain’s outer regions (cerebral cortex), interpreting them, then sending them to other areas of the brain to complete their job.
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Stroke Notes

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Support Showcase

Our new department highlighting the good work being done by stroke support groups from around the nation. If you are part of a successful support group we should consider featuring, let us know!