Major recovery after stroke

Tove-Karin Skaug (59 years old) is my sister. Health-wise, she has had a demanding time for the last 5 years. In autumn 2011 she returned to Norway after living in Sweden for many years. While she was there, she had several heart attacks. In the autumn of 2012 she had a stroke. She lost her speech and had right-side paralysis throughout her body, typical of many who have had a stroke. For 3 months she received good help and managed to walk again. She had begun to recover so far in the rehabilitation that she was able to walk alone outside. It was winter, and she could manage with walking sticks. Her speech was also well recovered after continuous training and good speech therapy.

However, 3 months after the stroke she got an intense pain in her head. Both health professionals and we in the family thought this was pain after the stroke. Fortunately, there was a skilled nurse at the rehabilitation department where she lived, who took action. She was sent for MRI examination, and it turned out that Tove had had brain haemorrhage. She was taken in an air ambulance to Trondheim and St. Olav's hospital at Christmas that year. She got good help there.

Tove-KarinLanguage, endurance, initiative, action - everything that had been my sister's characteristics - were gone. This was despite good follow-up of health care professionals and family. She sat passively, and slept in a chair for over 2 years. She needed help with everything.

In the autumn of 2015, a weekend course in Zhineng Qigong: Hold Qi Up, was arranged in Bodø, and I persuaded her to go with me. When we started on the Saturday morning with our course instructor, Tove managed to stand for a little while during the instruction. She could also lift her right arm about 20 cm away from the body. She sat on a chair most of the time. She struggled and was negative towards everything. On the second course day, I had to force her to return with me.

The result, however, when the course was completed, was good. She could lift both arms over her head, and other skills had improved considerably; especially her language. There was, already, an improvement after the second day of the course. That improvement persisted, and it increased during the following months.

Neither the speech therapist nor the other health personnel understood what had happened. The change was so sudden and unexpected.

Tove has attended the weekly Zhineng Qigong training almost every time in the two and a half years since that first course. She does not train so much at home. Nevertheless, she has had great benefits. Doctors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and all her assistants during the period can confirm fantastic progress in every way. The only area where she still needs help is speech therapy. Otherwise, she manages completely well on her own.

She reads well now. She could not do that before the “turning point”. Her writing improves all the time.

She now also uses an iPad. To start with, that was quite chaotic. However, now she deals with it well. She uses it for information retrieval as well as for social media.

She also uses her electric bike again. She cycles daily in urban traffic. The public aid system has always set up the preparation of individual plans for Tove. Many goals have been achieved along the way, new ones have come true.

Tove's goal of going to work a few hours every week has now been reached. She has even worked as a shop assistant at Rema 1000 (a grocery store) at Rønvikleira in Bodø. This has happened after she has been out of work for 20 years.

Tove’s story has been considered so extraordinary, that Avisa Nordland, our local newspaper, has published an article about her. She was on the front page, and two pages inside the newspaper. Tove herself has been persistent with her efforts to recover, and she has, in cooperation with the family and the health care, never given up.

When Zhineng Qigong came into her life, progress continued rapidly. There is still some room for improvement, but much has been achieved. This summer she painted the porch and created a small garden with beautiful flowers on her porch. That was absolutely unthinkable 3 years ago.

Tove-Karin Skaug, presented by her sister, Gunn-Heidi Skaug