SSEEO Newsletter - February 1, 2012
Stroke Camp – A Weekend Celebration!
Alexian Brothers Health System
Stroke Program Manager
Alexian Brothers Health System
As we move into 2012, Alexian Brothers Health System is excited to sponsor our 5th annual Refresh & Retreat Stroke Camp. In this article we would like to share the story of stroke camp through the eyes of not only the Executive Director of Refresh & Retreat Stroke Camp, but that of a stroke survivor as well. As a healthcare provider, taking part in stroke camp reminds us of our core values: caring for patients - the body and soul! Camp grants us the time to reconnect with past patients and experience their stroke journey, beyond the walls of the hospital. The survivors’ strength is inspiring. The warmth, joy, and compassion shared in a weekend at camp fills the soul!
We hope you find this story heartwarming and consider taking part in a camp in 2012! For more information on the 2012 Alexian Brothers Health System sponsored stroke camp, please visit the Refresh & Retreat Stroke Camp website: strokecamp.org
Co-Founder & Executive Director of Refresh & Retreat Stroke Camp
Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp (strokecamp.org) provides weekend camps (really retreats) to stroke survivors and their caregivers and families. What started out as one weekend event in 2004 has grown into a non-profit organization that will provide over 20 camps in more than 10 states in 2012. Alexian will celebrate their fifth year of hosting Stroke Camp this year. Here is an overview of what camp is all about.
The magic of stroke camp is in its simplicity and sincerity, and its purpose and people. Those attending witness time and again the joy that basic human kindness and connections can bring. Survivors and caregivers learn to trust the volunteers so they can actually “retreat and refresh.” Volunteers learn far more about the reality of stroke than they had discovered in any of their textbooks. The weekends prove to be an irresistible escape from the everyday life of coping with the long-term effects of strokes. This horrible attack on the brain steals something unique from each survivor and challenges loved ones to adopt the title of caregiver. It’s hard to grasp how so many lives could be transformed in about 48 hours at camp...… how loneliness is forgotten, how grief is replaced by understanding, how anger is translated into action, how a new peace can seep into our souls. Oh, do we ever talk and laugh at camp! We gab at meals that we didn’t have to prepare and chuckle at the silliest after-meal skits. It is all about relishing every bite and word and the leisurely walks or rides throughout the weekend. It is all about hearing our voices soar in song and finding the courage to sing karaoke in front of the stroke camp crowd that applauds and cheers our brightest, most beautiful stars. It is all about pampering and revitalizing weary bodies, learning new ways to cope with stroke, or challenging ourselves to try a new craft or game or musical instrument. It is all about the conversations that survivors and caregivers share in their respective groups to vent, question, answer, learn, educate, reassure, comfort, laugh and cry, and to better understand themselves and their loved ones. That is the magic of stroke camp................
Stroke Survivor, SSEEO Volunteer
(Interview and written by Liz Kim)
David Geron experienced his stroke on March 13, 2010. During his stay at Alexian Rehabilitation Hospital David was encouraged by staff to attend his first Stroke Camp in May of 2010, an experience that has changed him!
At the time of the first Stroke Camp, David had only been home for 1 week. With his recovery in its infancy, he was not very mobile, confined mostly to his wheelchair. But that did not inhibit David’s spirit. The camp weekend empowered David to strive for independence. He met many individuals that inspired him, and acted as mentors in his stroke journey, developing friendships that he maintains today. David, a musician at heart, has fond memories of singing karaoke, and playing the piano with everyone gathering around him. It was a “wonderful and great experience, I didn’t want it to end.”
The second year David attended Stroke Camp in June 2011. He fondly recalls “a 3 day celebration!” “The music therapy is just up my alley!” This year David was able to participate more fully in the music therapy, as he was able to clap his hands and dance to the music, overcoming the effects of his stroke. His lasting memory is of positive energy – both given and received, the feeling of being loved, and the support of the Alexian volunteers.
David looks forward to Stroke Camp in 2012!
Next SSEEO Teleconferences
Topic: Pseudo bulbar Affect or Involuntary Emotional Expression Disorder
Presented by Advocate Christ Medical Center
Tuesday, February 14th, 12pm - 1pm Central
Topic: Central Pain Syndrome Post Stroke
Presented by Resurrection Health Care
Tuesday, April 10th, 12pm - 1pm Central
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