Archive for December, 2006

New Year!

Like many people, I am not in the midset of making specific New Year resolutions. Rather, if something needs to be changed, I prefer to attack it as it comes along instead of accepting the status quo until a meaningless date. At the end of the year, I can’t help but think about what 2006 has meant to me. “Justsurving” is an apt description of the first half of the year. I think that I started to become proactive (hence graduation) once the cobwebs started to clear from my damaged noggin. They haven’t cleared completely but I know it is mostly from my choice to disengage when I get overwhelmed or fearful of testing myself. I think I am concerned that if I really try to use my brain, that I will be disappointed in the results and discover that I am dumber than last year (although technically after our teens, we all are).

In looking forward, I hope to spend less time on the strokenetwork. I do not want my stroke to define my life. I need to move on and experience my life with an open mind.


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My family flew down to Florida from South Dakota last Saturday – 8 of them – for the graduation ceremony on Monday. The doctoral guests got reserved seating at the ceremony which is great for confused, small town visitors – less chance to get lost! I was so anxious, I had to find my own way to the area for the graduates (I don’t do too well with that type of thing – searching & trying to walk well…), I got there almost 1/2 hour early. The staging area for the doctoral students was fairly impressive. There were sheets of paper taped to the floor that had our names on them that we were to stand on before the processional. My advisor got there about 5-10 minutes prior to the time to leave so my heart was in my throat thinking he might not make it on time!

As we walked into the large arena, the pomp and circumstance music was loud and strong. It was an overwhelming feeling to be the first to walk out and sit in the first couple of rows. The rows were rather long (20-30 seats or so per row) and I am not a fantastic side shuffler so I tried to walk straight rather than shuffle. Well, that was dumb. My left leg caught on a chair leg & I stumbled. How embarrassing. At least I caught myself & could keep walking. I was the first to walk down that row so I had to go all the way to the stinking end! This was actually a blessing since when I had to walk on stage, I didn’t have to do any shuffling at the most important time. I also didn’t think about the fact that there were stairs – we walked single file and there was a railing so it was fine. I handed the speaker the phonetic spelling of my name and walked to the middle of the stage to him saying my name correctly (rare since it is an easy-to-mangle German name). I guess my family was very vocally excited but I didn’t hear a bit of it since I was concentrating so hard on not falling. I stepped to the Dean & handed her my hood. I turned to face the audience and both the dean and my advisor placed the hood over my head for the hooding ceremony. I then thanked my advisor and walked to the end of the stage where someone (boy, I just don’t remember who this guy was!) shook my hand and handed my diploma to me. I figured it was just a placeholder that said my real diploma will be mailed to me but no! He handed my real, actual diploma to me! At the end of the stage, pictures were taken and I got to walk back to my seat. No stumbling this time.

There were so many times that I fought hard to resist crying: The entrance and the hooding were the strongest. But I lost it when my advisor’s wife handed me the nicest card. Darn it – I almost made it!!

It felt good to see the pride in my parent’s face. It was only a short ceremony that I was a part of but it was fantastic. The rest of the visit, Bob & I tried to show them around Orlando as much as possible without taxing them too much physically or monitarily. We went to Gatorland to see all of the alligators, reptiles, and birds. We went to the beach where they played in the ocean (but not Bob & I – it was too cold to play in the ocean for Floridians!). We went to Universal Islands of Adventure and went on lots of rides – I went on The Hulk, Dr. Death’s Drop of Doom, Spiderman, both Dueling Dragons, and ended with The Hulk again for the grand finale! After the last ride, I got off The Hulk and was returning to family when I started having problems with my vision, faintly reminiscent of prior to my stroke. Uh oh – I called and made an appointment with the neurologist. The same reactionary neurologist that I have spoken of previously so I knew what I was in for – a spanking or at least a stern slapping of my hand.

“THE HULK? YOU WENT ON THE HULK??” Poor guy. I torture him. No more rollercoasters for me. I can’t tell you how sad that makes me – I am a huge rollercoaster fan & wanted to go on Shiekra (sp) at Busch Gardens in Tampa. Dang it. I have to schedule an MRI & MRA to make sure all is well. Blast. I will report the findings when they are known.

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