Archive for February, 2010

I’ll first start with explaining that the brain damage that resulted from my ischemic stroke is in two areas – the basal ganglia and motor cortex.

First – the area of the motor cortex that was hit the hardest corresponds with my left leg (duh!). This is why this is the very last area of my body that I have yet to recover. I’m working on it though! Which, by the way, one of the helpful products that I recently bought are these very cool shoes called Vibram Five Fingers. Yes, I realize that it sounds all sorts of dirty, but seriously – they are shoes that are sooo cool! (http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/) They force my toes to separate when all they want to do is clump together and never work, those lazy SOBs. These shoes force my foot to dorsiflex when I walk because the sole wraps up over the tip of the toe so that I can’t just scuff my shoe (it will catch on the floor/ground & trip me).

Second – the basal ganglia area can’t be simplified as easily as the motor cortex. Affected areas for me: attention and impulse control. I used to have mad focus for a fairly long period of time and now, I take smaller time frames so that I can force my attention to grow. An admittedly slow progress. Know what is even slower? Yep, impulse control. Think about how many emotions flash throughout the day. Imagine that each of those little emotions (slight annoyance when someone cuts you off in traffic, for instance) were actually huge and were all-consuming. In our life, we learn how to quickly and quietly figure out which emotions are ‘worth it’ and which are ‘throw aways’. Well, now I get to learn it all over again.

How many times did you learn how to walk? Once? Piffle, I got to learn twice! Type? Twice. Deal with the petty stuff? Yep, twice. For every freaking single thing that has to be learned the second time, it is harder. Granted, I don’t remember learning to walk the first time &, likely, neither do you. It was a bitch to learn the second time. Figuring out how to deal with emotions the second time is really hard. Mostly because it is emotional. It feels so real and big. It takes time. Patience. Experience. All of those things combined. Time, patience, and experience. It sucks that I am an impatient person who doesn’t want to take the time and be patient. Plus, the experience thing kinda sucks because it is embarrassing to learn again. Especially, ESPECIALLY, when I don’t *look* like I have brain damage, you know? At least if I drooled or something, I could get a little slack or something, right? (No, I’m not looking for an easy way out or wish to have it worse. Yes, I appreciate where I am now. Jeez, people.)

So, when I stroked & was in the hospital, I had subluxation of the shoulder (slightly dislocated). Here’s the thing – I didn’t get feedback (I never lost sensation, but when a muscle was sore, I never felt it) about the pain. UNTIL about 3 months ago. Seriously – 4 (FOUR) years later. Four years of my shoulder yelling at my brain that there was something wrong. Tapping constantly on the brain’s shoulder that it needed attention. My brain said “Who the hell are you? We don’t know you, go away.” and slammed the door shut. Well, my brain has now figured out who the shoulder is and guess what the reward of getting this info is? You guessed it – pain. Bittersweet. Welcome back, shoulder. Welcome back (now, shut up and behave).

Okay, last thing for this post. The whole stroke thing messes up the CNS (central nervous system) something fierce. My left side can’t recover or feel hot and cold very well. Benefits: I can carry coffee in my left hand for longer than my right. Costs: 1) left hand isn’t as steady so I spill more than the right and 2) trying to warm up the left side is weird. Really weird. Imagine laying in bed and your left leg/arm is cold but everything on the right side is warm. It feels weird. After all this time, I haven’t gotten used to that. It’s…well, it’s odd, weird, freaky, etc.

I’ll tell you one thing, I’m not down for the count – I’ll keep improving. Count on it!


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