An ambulance rushed him to Providence St. Joseph Medical Center where he remained for a month. He couldn’t talk and lost use of his right arm and leg, Maggie Szik said. They didn’t know what was wrong with him right away, but then determined it was a stroke.
He underwent speech and occupational therapy at the hospital, and therapy continued when he went home. He learned how to move around and get off the bed, Maggie Szik said. The therapist taught him how to dress with one hand.
He now has use of his right leg, but not the right arm.
“Walking came back soon after the stroke,” Maggie Szik said. “He forced himself to walk. When he came home from the hospital, he started walking slowly in front of the house. Then he started walking around the park [across the street].”
He refused to use a walker. He used a three-prong cane at the hospital and changed to a regular cane once he got home, but he doesn’t use it around the house.
“He uses the single cane when we go out for physical therapy,” she said.
He continues physical therapy on his hand in a student program at Cal State Northridge twice a week. And he can say only a few words, but he still communicates with family members and can understand what people are saying to him.
“His first word was ‘chicken’,” said daughter Eva Kiss. “I asked him what he had for lunch.”
About a year after his stroke, he went back to his hobby of woodworking, Maggie Szik said, using clamps to hold the wood and guiding it with just the left hand.
One of the first things he made was a wooden holder for playing cards. The family loves to play canasta, Maggie Szik said.
Kiss would play cards with her dad when she came to see him in the hospital.
“They had metal card holders at the hospital,” she said, adding that that’s where he got the idea for the wooden ones.