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Getting back to caring for herself

Gladys Sundet would really like to do some baking.

One year after a stroke muddled her mind and made getting around difficult, Sundet is starting to feel like life is getting back to normal. But there are still things she can no longer do for herself.

Sundet grew up on a farm near Grand Forks, N.D. She was the seventh of eighth kids, and she was used to hard work. She milked cows and helped with the haying.

"I lifted bales," she said.

She learned to bake, too. And she loved it.

"I baked bars. I baked cake. I baked cookies and I baked all kind of bread," Sundet said. "I just loved to put things together and see what it comes out like."

Sundet met her husband, Philip, on a blind date. After they were married they farmed in Gary, Minn. Sundet baked and ironed and looked after the couple's three children. She remained active even as she reached her mid-70s, and she stayed on the farm after Philip died of stomach cancer.

But that changed last year. Sundet had a stroke while she was getting ready for church. Friends and emergency workers found her unconscious on the floor of the farmhouse where she still lived.

Sundet moved to Farmington's Trinity Care Center 10 months ago to recover and to be closer to her children, who live in Lakeville, Burnsville and Savage.

She's getting better now. She can walk pretty well. She's got a walker, but she gets around her room without it. She can think more clearly now than she could immediately after the stroke, too. She does word finds and other puzzles, which help.

Still, there are times she gets frustrated. She's used to doing things for herself. She's used to canning in the summer and baking and doing her own laundry. She can't do any of that at the care center. There's no kitchen for her to use, and her laundry is done for her.

Sundet misses even the simple chores she used to do for herself.

"I haven't washed clothes. I haven't done anything that would help me get stronger," she said.

It's baking she misses most, though.

Sundet knows some of that is her own fault. She said there are times when she doesn't push herself as much as she could. Or as much as she should. She's a little bit afraid, she said. Afraid of falling. Or of not being able to do the things she once did."I gotta do it, though," she said. "I think my mind is better and better and better and better. I can walk better.

"The more I do for myself, the better I feel."

Sundet isn't sure what she'll do as she continues improving. One of her sons has asked her to move in with him, but she's not sure about that.

"I must let him be by himself," she said.

She's thought about finding an apartment somewhere, but she's not sure about that, either.

She'd just like to find a place with a kitchen.