Trumbull man’s motivation helps him recover from stroke
Trumbull resident Richard Oster was a healthy, fit, 60-year-old consultant for BASF when he stepped out of his house on Easter Sunday to take out the trash. Then he felt a sharp pain in his head, and the throbbing intensified.
“It knocked me to the floor,” he said. “Fortunately, I just collapsed against the wall and sort of slid down the stairs.”
Oster had had a stroke, just hours before he and his wife Ida were scheduled to depart on a vacation in Cuba. The aneurysm robbed him of all motion on his right side, and greatly affected his speech. The scariest part, he said, was that the attack seemed to come with no warning.
“The only thnig that happened was about a week before I had a bad headache,” Oster said. “I went to a walk-in clinic and they diagnosed me with a sinus infection.”
After his stroke, Oster spent 17 days in the hospital before being sent to rehabilitate at Gaylord. At this point he was still unable to move his right side or communicate.
The headache may have been a coincidence, but there is nothing coincidental about his recovery, he said. He has made progress that his therapists call miraculous. He credits his progress to two things: His desire to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding, and to be able to hold his newborn granddaughter when he meets her for the first time in July.
“I’ve been practicing,” Oster said recently after a therapy session where walked up and down the aisles of the Gaylord Specialty Healthcare facilility in Wallingford with his therapist on his arm. “When I got to rehab, I had no feeling in one side, I couldn’t lift my arms, my speech was slurred. We had to start at zero, seeing if we could establish a connection between my hands and brain.”
By late June, Oster had made enough progress that he was hitting golf balls as part of his rehab, and speaking about his plans after returning home. And his walks with his therapist have extended to the point where his Aug. 2 walk down the aisle should be a figurative walk in the park, he said.
“I’ve been building up my endurance,” he said. “The worst is behind me now. I went from having no feeling to walking in five weeks. Now I’m working on being able to carry a baby and change a diaper.”