Help, Has anyone here had to recover from a stroke?

Discussion in 'Fred's Barcalounge' started by Charles Conner, Oct 14, 2019.

  1. Charles Conner

    Charles Conner Gretschie

    May 19, 2016
    I had an eschemic stroke on Feb 14th of this year. The major thing that has been affected is my ability to play the guitar, the stroke affected the use of my left hand. I'm the lead singer/ guitarist in a 4 piece group; bass, drums, keyboards, and me. I've been playing in bands for over 60 years, now I'm starting over, I know what to do but I can't, it's like having a nightmare to be on the bandstand. I feel like an embarrassment for my other band mates, my keyboard player same age as me 78, Sam Paladino from Laplata MD., has worked in groups with Roy Clark and Danny Gatton on guitar, now he's stuck with me and lots of his old musician friends come to see us. I can't quit, we have jobs on our calendar. I've told myself to just crank it up and play but that doesn't work. Now I have to tell myself, like everyone else, I've always had my limits, but now they'er just much greater. I recently found out about the jazz guitarist Pat Martino who had a brain hemmorage so bad that he didn't remember that he ever played the guitar, now he's playing great. I need to hear more stories like that.....If I can help anybody from my experiences, please ask. If any one has anything that will help me please let me know.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019
    new6659 and blueruins like this.
  2. radd

    radd Country Gent

    Dec 27, 2017
    Santa cruz
    No stories, no help, sorry.

    I will say I admire your courage and willingness to fight through it.

    Hoping for a speedy recovery for you.
    Stefan87, Merc and Charles Conner like this.
  3. Merc

    Merc Country Gent

    May 6, 2017
    Although my grandfather didn’t play a instrument, he had a stroke in his late 70’s and managed a full recovery. Initially you could tell until he relearned how to use one side of his body. But eventually it wasn’t noticeable.

    My uncle didn’t have a stroke. But he did have a seizure which led to the cause of a brain tumor. Once removed after brain surgery he had to relearn the dobro and could play pretty good again. Unfortunately it grew back. The second surgery 10 years later was a bit much. He shakes too much now to play.

    I imagine not a lot of people here listen to Megadeth as it’s metal. But the guitarist I know relearned how to play with his left hand after a freak incident. Below is from WiKi on it:
    Mustaine suffered an injury causing severe nerve damage to his left arm. The injury, induced by falling asleep with his left arm over the back of a chair caused compression of the radial nerve. He was diagnosed with radial neuropathy, also known as Saturday Night Palsy, which left him unable to grasp or even make a fist with his left hand. On April 3, 2002, Mustaine announced in a press release that he was disbanding Megadeth, officially due to his arm injury. For the next four months, Mustaine underwent intense physical therapy five days a week. Slowly, Mustaine began to play again, but was forced to "re-teach" his left hand.

    Keep the faith and continue playing. Even if the band thing ends up being too much at the moment, playing at home or jamming may be great therapy (although with frustration). I imagine it’ll increase your odds of recovery compared to simply sticking only with regular therapy.

    As for the band, if you feel you may be an embarrassment... have a good honest discussion with them if you haven’t already. If they’re good with it and you continue to play, maybe get a shirt like below. Assuming it’s not entirely covered by the guitar, the audience may be more forgiving and pick up on it. You may just inspire others by playing. Wishing you the best and may god bless you.

    mrfixitmi, section2, new6659 and 3 others like this.
  4. Stefan87

    Stefan87 Synchromatic

    May 20, 2019
    Brisbane, Australia
    Like Radd I can't help, the only thing I can say is keep at it and don't let your mind stop you from believing you will be able to play to your standard again.

    I'm sure your band mates would never think that you are an embarrassment as no one ever would after what you have been through, so keep your head up and keep playing.

    I have had many friends and relatives who have had injuries that could've potentially stopped then from doing what they had been doing or what they love in life, some of them it did and the others are living like nothing happened today, the only difference between the two groups of people is that the ones who wanted to keep living there life did exactly that, they put in the hard work and never gave up.

    I wish you all the best and Merc has some great points above.
    mrfixitmi, Charles Conner and Merc like this.
  5. Charles Conner

    Charles Conner Gretschie

    May 19, 2016
  6. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Admin Post
    I would recommend reading The Brain That Changes Itself. There are a lot of inspiring stories of recovery in that book.
  7. Charles Conner

    Charles Conner Gretschie

    May 19, 2016
    Thanks guys, I will keep trying. I thank GOD for what I have, it could have been much worse, I can still walk,talk, and sing. Except for playing the guitar I didn't know that I had a stroke The guys in the band keep telling me, " quit beating yourself up, eveything's ok". most of the people we play for have known us for decades. They understand and still come to hear us.. Physical therapy has restored the strength in my left hand ...(So much that I can push any cord on the guitar at least 1/2 step sharp even though I don't mean to, the bass player follows me and and we wind up in the wrong key.) That last line is a joke to keep me from crying. While I was in the hospital doctors did a CAT scan and an MRI that showed some brain damage in a small area that will never heal but I can develope new pathways and have a full recovery. It's still very frustrating, like starting over after 60+ years of playing.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019
  8. Bertotti

    Bertotti Friend of Fred

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    Variety of practice with the left hand to develop those fine motor skills over again. I would start with some graph paper and start writing the alphabet upper and lower case with your left hand a letter in each box. Once you got it printing move to cursive. Wether you are a righty or not it will be good practice. Good luck
    Charles Conner likes this.
  9. Jelly Roll Horton

    Jelly Roll Horton Country Gent

    Nov 10, 2017
    Portland, OR
    Django Reinhardt played guitar with only two fingers on his left hand. Ray Charles was blind, as were several early blues guitarists, like Willie McTell and Blind Lemon Jefferson. If you google “plays guitar with his feet” on You Tube, you’ll find many examples of people who have approached their devotion to music from a different angle. I’m sure with the many years you have devoted to music that you will be able to find a way to continue. Maybe only barre chords, maybe a different instrument, maybe a different method, maybe as lead vocalist! Just keep reminding yourself that the music is in you; the instrument is just the tool for expressing that joy. Don’t obsess over perceived limits. Try to see this as an opportunity to explore new musical horizons. I know you can do it!
    section2, Merc and Charles Conner like this.
  10. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Friend of Fred

    Jan 19, 2012
    Maldon UK
    Where I trained in China, acupuncture is used a major recovery tool for brain injuries. There's a centre of excellence for stroke recovery in Tianjin. For a demonstration of what's possible, there's a great documentary called 9000 Needles, following one man's recovery.

    musicman100 and Charles Conner like this.
  11. MrMajstyk

    MrMajstyk Gretschie

    Dec 3, 2011
    los angeles
    Hey Charles!
    Here’s the deal (and I’ll tell you how I know in a minute), your band mates, and your following, are like FAMILY, and family doesn’t quit on family! You said it yourself “ The guys in the band keep telling me, " quit beating yourself up, eveything's ok". most of the people we play for have known us for decades. They understand and still come to hear us.”
    They dig what you do, even if you’re not 100%!
    Your recovery, no matter how slow, is their victory too! And they’ll stay with you! And every time you get a little better, you find these little victories... and share them with your audience and band! This is just another dimension for your fans to appreciate! As long as you keep fighting and trying, you are an the band, to the audience, and to guys like us here on the forum! And we ALL want to see you recover! You’ll discover a few “work-arounds”.., which some of the guys “of a certain age” gotta do anyway due to arthritis, injury, bursitis, lack of mobility, loss of, or diminishing sight, hearing, voice...and maybe even worse.

    I had a bad accident in July... broke my femur in 3 places and fractured my hip and really screwed up my knee. They had to install two titanium rods in different directions from my hip to my knee, and screws, pins, etc, to keep it all together. They had to move an awful lot of muscle and tissue out of the way to do it. I was in the hospital for 3 weeks. Developed blood clots. Luckily I started physical therapy 2 days after the surgery while I was in the hospital and that’s when they discovered the blood clots in my leg.
    Being a constantly gigging singer/guitarist /entertainer with a band , and sometimes solo, meant this really sucked! Cancelled everything for the rest of July and all of August and a bunch, but not all, of Sept. When they released me from hospital I was on a walker. The leg is a mess. And in a lot of pain. Like a hot railroad spike being hammered into your hip pain.
    The tribute gigs I do, I had to cancel. Wouldn’t be appropriate to show up as Neil Diamond or Johnny Cash on a walker! But for the gigs where I’m just ME, and people are coming to see the stuff I do as ME, I figured I could hire a roadie for my gear and to drive me, have a stool onstage and just explain what happened to the audience and hope for the best!
    I received an overwhelming show of support from the management of the venues, and my band... and especially the audience! Some people showed up who I haven’t seen in a LONG time! And they continue to keep coming out and showing support! And every time I show a little progress, they are right there with me, letting me know that they see it and encouraging me.

    I was shocked! Initially I felt like I would be letting everyone down, but it’s been exactly the opposite! It’s as if they appreciate what I going thru and want to celebrate every little victory with me!

    So, as you continue to fight and get better and push yourself and beat yourself up a little, just know that your friends, your band, your extended “ family” appreciate you, not just for what you DO, but for who you ARE!

    So go kick some butt!
    MTurner, Stefan87, Outlaw and 7 others like this.
  12. Howdy Charles,

    Seems like a lot of wonderful advice here. As you retrain your left hand I wonder if as a temporary side track for playing if you tune a guitar to open G and play with/without a slide?
  13. LA Miles

    LA Miles Country Gent

    Dec 6, 2012
    Best wishes - I admire your openness and and determination to overcome.
    Charles Conner likes this.
  14. thunder58

    thunder58 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Admin Post
    So sorry to hear of this Charles . I wish I had some sound advice for you , but unfortunatley I don't . All I can add is to follow the Doctors regiment . I wish you well my friend as I'm confident you'll be back to your old self in no time .
    Get well soon my friend :)
    Charles Conner likes this.
  15. markeebee

    markeebee Country Gent

    Hi Chuck

    I had a hemorrhagic stroke about 15 years ago, when I was about 40. I struggled for some time to come to terms with the impact it had on my playing - although I was never very good in the first place, if I'm honest, so I guess I probably had less to lose than you! I hardly played for a few years, I was halfway embarrassed and halfway disgusted by my inability to remember what I was supposed to do and then get my hands to form the shapes once I'd remembered them. It was too painful, both mentally and physically....walking and talking were hard enough, I thought that playing the guitar was totally beyond me.

    After a few years of feeling a little sorry for myself, a friend of mine persuaded me to dig out a guitar and sit with him, bashing out a few rudimentary chords. He introduced me to a friend and neighbour of his, who's a GP (I think that's the equivalent of an MD in the States, a general family doctor type). Dr J suggested that playing the guitar was great therapy....."train your body and train your mind", he said. Better still, he was a bass player so the three of us formed a little band with another buddy who bashes the drums. The guys were all incredibly kind, and incredibly patient with me, and it sounds like your bandmates are cut from the same cloth. Our Sunday evening rehearsals became the highpoint of every week, and little by little I started to learn my way around a guitar neck a little more, and I also worked out lots of little tricks to bluff it out when I forgot or couldn't do it. I was even daft enough to sign up on this forum (and a couple of others), and just learning to type and form words and sentences has been a joy, so thanks to everyone here for putting up with my inane rumblings. I just wish I had got back in the saddle earlier, rather than thinking that I couldn't.

    I still have similar brain function problems to what you may encounter, my memory is appalling, it takes me a while to think of what to say sometimes, I'm a bit clumsy handling objects occasionally. But I really, genuinely feel that the support and encouragement of my friends got me walking, talking, thinking and (maybe) playing guitar far better than I would have done if I had left the guitars in their cases. Focusing the mind, having little targets, and having people support you to those targets is invaluable. I send you every possible good wish for success in the little diversion your journey has taken, keep your eye on the positives and you'll be right as rain. Message me anytime, I can't promise I won't be stupid but it sometimes helps to share.

    Take care
  16. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Friend of Fred

    Oct 18, 2015
    After a stroke many things will come back if you give them time, patience and training. Getting your left hand back to it`s form by praticing the guitar sounds like a completely sensible form of therapy.

    If your band is currently a burden to you you should give it a break or concentrate on your role as a singer. Don`t stress yourself. Everybody will understand that you want to play at your standard and that you will need some time to get back to it.

    Around me there are quite a few persons dealing with a stroke. The friend of my sister had a super-severe one. We actually did not expect him to survive. That was about 5 years ago. I am so happy to watch him coming back. The progress he made is incredible. Time, patience and training.
  17. HypotenusLuvTriangle

    HypotenusLuvTriangle Country Gent

    Oct 27, 2010
    Whittier, Ca
    Good luck is all I can offer and my condolences. I hope you can recover. Seek out all the help you can afford. Strokes tend to affect everyone differently due to severity and how quickly you can get treatment... dare I say.... different strokes for different folks??? Unfortunately, the few people in my family that have survived strokes never were able to make much of a recovery. I see it in their eyes what you're talking about. Knowing how to do something and trying your hardest but just can't. Being stuck in that hell. Their bodies have become prisons for their still active mind. I can try to imagine your frustration but I'm sure I'm nowhere near what you're experiencing and I'm prolly just paying lip service to your struggle. But I really hope you can pull through this. Is there anyone you know you could add to the band that could cover what you can't anymore?
  18. mrfixitmi

    mrfixitmi Synchromatic

    Mar 20, 2010
    I am so sorry for the pain and trauma, frequently life is unfair. As many of you are probably tired of hearing, my youngest son is studying Music Therapy, he has been assigned to Hospice for his internship. He had worked with stroke victims in his Junior year in college. Typically, he had patients with speech issues post stroke. However, he had two clients with motor skill challenges. Both had progressed well with Music Therapy. Fortunately you are a musician, so creating an alternate path for the brain to function with motor skills has a higher propensity to heal.

    You may want to look up Music Therapy as an alternative, there is a tremendous amount of information on the internet. Music Therapy is not some hoax, it actually can help.
    Here is one link:
    Our prayers are with you, and hope that you find relief and recovery soon.
    Charles Conner likes this.
  19. thunder58

    thunder58 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Admin Post
    Guys , this is fantastic advice for or friend @Charles Conner . You all may have remembered me boasting in the past about my favorite organization called " Guitars 4 Vets " . They deal with guitars and soldiers who deal with PTSD ... their motto .." the healing power of music in the hands of hero's "
    Great advice guys , great advice :):)
    mrfixitmi and Charles Conner like this.
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