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Archive for May, 2009

It never fails – I think I have just about everything figured out & then BAM! I get hit with something and have something to refigure.

I had a pretty sweet life up to the stroke. I was fit, healthy, and on my way to finishing up schooling. BAM! Stroke. I often wrote and felt that I had aged 50 years in the blink of an eye. I think I understand why now. I had some disconnect with my mind and body.

BS (before stroke), my mind and body were in sync. What I thought I could do, I just did. Without fail. All of a sudden, I thought I could do things that I simply couldn’t do. No way, no how (walking, grabbing things, etc.). It is incredibly difficult to convey how this dissonance felt. I thought I was still healthy and fit. I simply couldn’t get my mind to sync up with my body. It was impossible for me to understand that I was broken. I think that I realized it in small patches (one sad memory was of me sobbing uncontrollably and asking Bob to please just take the stroke effects away, just for 1 day and I promised that I would find the strength to fight it if I could only just have a break), but I couldn’t really make my mind understand what my brain did to my body. Only time would allow the two to make that connection.

I realized last night that it is coming together. My mind is accepting my body. I recall having a lunch date with a good friend (Friend of Survivor, in fact!), and as we sat in a 2 person booth, I had no idea what to do with my arm. This disconnect between my mind and body manifested itself frequently in the feeling that parts of my body didn’t feel like they belonged. At lunch, I crossed my arms so that I could control my affected arm. I felt terrible as I’m sure it came across as closed off body language, but I just didn’t know what else to do with my arm. At least I could simply tuck my affected leg/foot behind my good leg/foot and be okay with it being secured.

I feel fairly whole now. A portion of my affected foot often feels odd and ‘out of place’ (for lack of a better term) but since it is connected to the rest of my foot which feels fine, it is easier to deal with. I feel like my arm and leg belong to my body again.

I’m sure much of this has to do with the brain cells that have to pick up the responsibility of the dead cells. The new ones have no basis to determine what feels comfortable or appropriate. Only as time passes do they figure out how it is supposed to feel. When I would get frustrated at the experimental program at USC, I would have to stop and explain that it wasn’t that I didn’t *want* to do something (as one person claimed that ‘some strokers don’t want to do’ stuff), it was that my brain didn’t understand what was right and how right felt. There was frustration on both sides. There were some people who think that I just wasn’t cooperating and I felt frustrated that my brain cells weren’t picking it up as fast as they needed. I feed off other people’s stress which is NOT healthy! If someone is anxious, all that energy is absorbed and I become anxious. Yuck. The good thing is that if someone is contagiously happy – I am too!

I once told Bob that my brain is figuring things out similarly to a fresh one (babies/kids), only a little faster. I often commiserated with toddlers learning to walk. I figure that (similar to muscle memory), my brain is catching on fairly quickly and I’m past adolescence (whew! I felt awkward for awhile after the stroke – very teenage-y). Glad that is over! I’m getting better & believe with all my being that I can get to a fully sync’d up place in life. Just you watch!

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The latest

Lots of stuff happening lately…

I have been doing really well on my exercise schedule & even added to it! I am doing the Couch to 5k program (www.coolrunning.com under the Training tab and the Beginners section). Bob & I either bike or drive to the high school track and do the walk/jog alternation for about 20-30 minutes. The weather is starting to cooperate better and when it is warmer, the heat helps warm my muscles. The cool/cold weather makes me a miserable walker/jogger!

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Bob & I bought a house here in VA! It is a foreclosure that is in pretty good shape (we will have the inspection done tonight) and we got it below market value which is always good. I’m pretty excited about it – I can’t wait to move in and actually unpack *all* of the boxes. I have had boxes not only lining my closet but also stuffed in our extra room for the last 7 months and it is a pain.

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I gave blood yesterday at the blood drive here on center. What a mess that was. First, I had the most incompetent person taking my information. I had to spell everything 3 or 4 times (even easy words like Clair and Circle). I wanted to strangle her by the end of the intake portion and when they took my BP, I thought for sure that it would be sky high because I was so bugged. Instead it was 98/64 which is really low for me. After I sat in the chair for the blood draw, the phlebotomist stuck the needle in sooo s-l-o-w-l-y that it burned. I finally told her to hurry up and just stick the darn thing in already. I squeezed that stinking ball continuously so that I could just get the heck out of there. I filled it faster than I ever have before (~6 minutes) and as she pinched off the tube, I told her that I feel light headed and a little faint. She didn’t really seem to care and told me to cough (no tipping my chair back or juice or anything). I was too weak at that point to try to cough and just fainted dead away. I fainted so long that I was actually dreaming. Someone was tapping on my arm to wake me up and I was annoyed that someone was interrupting my dream (ha!) I may have even given the nice guy the hairy eyeball. Then I was looking around & 5 people were surrounding me, they had erected a screen (so that no one else would see the drama), and were fanning me. I must have been out for quite awhile (usually, I get horizontal [mostly by falling to the ground] and blood rushing to my head and I wake up within seconds). Stupid lady – next time she’ll believe me!

After consuming 3 small cups of ginger ale and a donut (no cookies!!! what a rip off!), I felt good enough to walk to my office. After sitting down for about 15 minutes, all of the ginger ale and donut and some of my lunch ended up in my trash can. I’ve never not been able to make it to the restroom when I felt nauseous. I had a good breakfast & lunch and still fainted and puked. What a terrible day! I slowly packed everything up and drove home (I had the only car, so Bob couldn’t exactly come get me). I couldn’t even drink water at home because my stomach felt terrible.

Today is much better!

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Well, we are back in VA and trying to get back into the swing of things after the marathon that was the PT study. I have decided to do my best to continue to actively participate in my recovery (I think I pretty much gave up there for a little while) and have a schedule of activities for 6 days a week. It’s no great shakes exactly, but I want to get back into shape and I have to create that path, not wait for it to magically appear. Hence, (I never get to use that word!) on M, W, & F, I will bike or walk/jog for an hour and concentrate on thigh adductors and abductors (25 inner leg raises, 25 outer leg raises for both legs) and on T, Th, & Sat I will focus on quadriceps, hamstrings, and abdominals (25 knee-ups, 25 hamstring curls, 25 top abs, 25 right side abs, 25 left side abs, 25 lower abs).

While still on my ‘PT high’, I used my newly acquired tiptoe skills to scare Bob. He was in the extra bedroom/office setting up his computer when I tiptoed in and goosed him. He yelped loudly and pushed his chair backward which resulted in the wheels of his chair to roll over my unaffected foot. No broken bones but it shredded my toes (beautiful bruises and scabs)! FYI – totally worth it!

Finally, if you would like to see me ‘cross’ the finish line, Bob graciously posted the video of it on YouTube at http://www.youtube.c…h?v=cZbRVSW0uWo.

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