Stroke recovery: it’s a marathon not a sprint

Vaughn Johnston
2 min readDec 25, 2020

The day after my stroke, I got a phone call from my friend and coworker. I was still in the hospital. I remember telling him that “hopefully I’ll be back to work next week.” Knowing full well I needed to learn how to walk again. Six months later, and I’m still not back to work.

In order to regain the use of my left side, my brain needs to rewire itself to create new pathways around the damaged part. This takes months, maybe years, with thousands of repetitions of exercises, stretches and other techniques (mirror box therapy, electrical stimulation, etc.).

I was able to walk again within the first month, but my muscles became so weak after the stroke that I couldn’t walk without a device or another person. My hand is still unusable.

Stroke recovery is a 1-2 year journey for some and a lifelong journey for others.

I have received some of the best physical, occupational and speech therapy insurance can buy and I’m incredibly proud of the progress I’ve made in these 6 short months. I still have a long road ahead of me, and I’ll gladly walk that road, forearm crutch and all, until I get to my destination, no matter how long it takes.

With such a long process, it’s easy to get depressed or discouraged, but giving up is not an option. If I give up now, I’ll never regain what I lost.

Here are my longterm goals, which keep me motivated:

  • Walk without an assistive device
  • Walk barefoot
  • Walk up and down stairs without using the railing
  • Go back to work
  • Play video games without adaptive devices
  • Type 2 handed on a keyboard

These will take a lot of time and rehabilitation to achieve, but I WILL achieve them.

Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway. -Earl nightingale