Stroke support group going strong

Duane Hicks

Those who have suffered a stroke should have the opportunity to talk with others who can relate to their experience.
Thankfully, Friends Living With Stroke is here to help.
The lively group, which sports about 20 members and always welcomes more, meets on the last Thursday of every month from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at the stroke prevention clinic at La Verendrye Hospital.
Group members bring $2 to their monthly meeting and, in return, get a heart-healthy lunch and dessert—along with recipes showing them how to make that snack, explained Marilyn Erwin, a registered nurse at Riverside Health Care’s Stroke Prevention Clinic.
They also talk about stroke-related topics and share their experiences about moving on after stroke.
“There’s always something to discuss,” said Erwin. “We have shown movies about stroke, read articles, and things like that.
“And it is always a party atmosphere,” she smiled.
At its February meeting last Thursday, Erwin gave a thank-you card and gift card for supper at La Place Rendez-Vous as a show of thanks to volunteer Melvin Jourdain, who, along with Wilma Chapman, was instrumental in forming Friends Living With Stroke.
In his most recent display of dedication, Jourdain volunteered to help Erwin run the six-week Living with Stroke course at the hospital back in November when she couldn’t get a second nurse to do so.
Jourdain, who gets around like a pro in his motorized wheelchair, said having a group like Friends Living With Stroke is tremendously helpful.
“It’s very important,” he stressed. “It give us more confidence.
“Before, I kind of kept my feelings to myself,” Jourdain admitted. “[But] after we started meeting, I became more open.
“We discuss things among ourselves.”
Jourdain suffered a stroke in September, 2012.
He spent several months of intense therapy at St. Joseph’s Rehabilitation Centre in Thunder Bay, then was transferred back to La Verendrye Hospital, where he remained for a time while his apartment underwent modifications now necessary for his independent living.
Jourdain took the Moving on after Stroke (MOST) program in the fall of 2013. Then after graduating from that, he enrolled in the Living with Stroke course the following spring.
Jourdain and the 15 others who took that course—whether they were stroke survivors or caregivers—formed a tight bond.
Once the six weeks were finished, they decided to continue meeting monthly. That’s when Friends Living With Stroke was born.
Jourdain also sits on the Northwestern Ontario Regional Stroke Network, which meets quarterly via videoconference.
The group also waved good-bye last Thursday to Linda and Bruce Stewart, who are moving to Manitoba.
The couple spoke highly of Friends Living With Stroke.
“It really does help to realize that others are better or worse than you, and to see how much they’ve accomplished,” said Linda Stewart.
“It’s something like this that keeps your spirit going,” noted Bruce Stewart.
Those interested in joining Friends Living With Stroke are welcome to attend their next meeting, which is set for Thursday, March 31.
For more information, call Erwin at 274-3261 ext. 4542 (work) or 274-7207 (home).
Leave a message if she’s not there.