Monticello Man’s 2021 Stroke and Recovery Journey

“You just need to be persistent and do what the doctors, nurses, and medical staff tell you — and you can make a recovery. It doesn’t end after rehab.”

Steve Larson suffered a stroke in October 2021. He remembers waking up like normal to go on a 26-mile bike ride and then noticed his head start to hurt. Figuring it was the start of a migraine he decided to try and sleep it off.

Steve Larson and wifeAfter a nap, the 71-year-old Monticello resident watched the Minnesota Vikings lose a game and realized he was losing control of his left hand and leg.

“Be careful when you watch your Vikings games,” Steve joked.

But, as the day went on Steve knew something wasn’t right. He went to CentraCare – Monticello Hospital several hours after the onset of his symptoms and was treated via telestroke by the stroke team.

Signs of Steve’s stroke were gradual — that’s why he didn’t seek immediate medical care. He recalls thinking since his face didn’t change, he probably wasn’t suffering a stroke.

“You know, if I had had that symptom, I probably would have gone in earlier,” he admitted.

Steve was transported to CentraCare – St. Cloud Hospital by ambulance and admitted to the CentraCare Neurosciences Stroke Center. After receiving specialized care in the hospital, he stayed in the inpatient rehab program for an additional 15 days.

“Having a stroke is a major change in a person’s life like getting married or having children,” acknowledged the grandfather of three. “In my case, I couldn’t walk on my own. I realized that it was going to be a real challenge.”

Steve reflected on other trials he’s had in his life and decided to fully trust his care team, “I realized I needed to do what my team said I should do. If I followed that advice, I’d start making a recovery. And that’s what happened,” Steve remembered.

Steve Larson and his grandchildHe had Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy twice daily. “It really wore me out, but I could see progress … In fact, I would have stayed there longer if I could’ve.” Steve continued, “It was so personable. I always felt so welcomed and supported.”

Today, Steve is still working on his recovery at home. “There are obviously things I still can’t do that I did before. But I was fortunate that my stroke was on the left side. A person has less chance of being impacted cognitively and speech-wise.”

He’s happy to report he’s able to drive again. “My wife and I went on a 24-hundred-mile vacation trip this winter and I drove half of it.”

Steve’s recovery activities also include playing ping-pong and using the recumbent bike he received from his son-in-law.

Steve Larson and his grandsonsWhile Steve acknowledges this is a lifelong change for him, he continues to work toward improving every day.

“My major motivation is my three grandchildren. I had been involved in their lives quite a bit before my stroke, and I want to continue to be involved as much as possible.”

He continued, “You just need to be persistent and do what the doctors, nurses, and medical staff tell you — and you can make a recovery. It doesn’t end after rehab.”