Archive for July, 2010

A friend had shared a link with me regarding a Pulitzer Prize winning article (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/27/AR2009022701549_5.html?sid=ST2009030602446) that is absolutely heartbreaking, compassionate, and very informative. As with most of us, some of the information jumped out at me and I recognized what applies to me.

“Diamond says that in situations involving familiar, routine motor skills, the human animal presses the basal ganglia into service as a sort of auxiliary autopilot. When our prefrontal cortex and hippocampus are planning our day on the way to work, the ignorant but efficient basal ganglia is operating the car; that’s why you’ll sometimes find yourself having driven from point A to point B without a clear recollection of the route you took, the turns you made or the scenery you saw.”

My stroke (brain damage) occurred in the basal ganglia. I have beat myself up for so much of what I am unable to do (using autopilot). It really explains so much. The time issue? Having to concentrate and put forth so much more effort to do the same thing that I could previously do on autopilot and not have to think about. That (finally) makes sense to me.

I think that the more that I know and understand, the more that I am able to forgive myself for this whole mess. This information covers time, walking, being able to put many things on autopilot and I don’t know if it is simply possible to ‘get that back’ like I can with physical movement. I will have to deal with that somehow.


So, guess who is back in physical therapy (PT)?


I mentioned that I have frozen shoulder – my shoulder was slightly dislocated and I went to PT to strengthen it and get back where it is supposed to be. I was told not to move it to pain. So I babied it. Babying your shoulder creates ‘frozen shoulder’ (Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition characterized by stiffness and pain in your shoulder joint.)

One method of resolving it is to be very aggressive and ‘yank’ it while the patient is under sedation. I don’t have that option because of the inherent instability of my shoulder from the dislocation. I did find out today that the frozen shoulder is actually a little bit of a good thing – it provides some stability. So my physical therapist plans to try to get back 80-90% of mobility so that there is some stability in my shoulder. Freaky, right? PT is going fairly well so far (only 2 weeks in) & I can already feel some relief in the shoulder.

I’m also going to PT for my foot. I previously mentioned that I discovered how to ‘push off’ (the last motion of a step in which the foot pushes off of the ground to propel the leg forward for the next step). Well, I started to get pain in my knee and hip and knew right away that I wasn’t pushing off correctly so I’m in for that as well. The therapist confirmed my suspicions :-). So I am getting foot massages and stretching because it is such poor shape. I’m enjoying it while I can before the tough work approaches.


As a graduation gift, Bob & I brought my niece, Jessica, to VA from SD for a vacation – she chose to go hiking Crabtree Falls (2 miles up and 2 back with lots of switchbacks because it was so steep), kayaking with dolphins (boy oh boy did my shoulder get a workout & we all got sunburned), & she tortured me with ~8 hours at Busch Gardens doing as many roller coasters we could stomach (admittedly I rode fewer than Jessica & Bob). It was a lot of fun, exhausting, and so interesting to get to know her without being lost in family with no time, which is our M.O. when we visit home.

She has such a bright future and has so much potential. I can’t wait to see what her future holds.


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Okay, people. I think I have a better way to describe my funky relationship with time.

Here goes…

Time, for me, seems to expand and contract at increasingly unpredictable intervals. There. Clearer?


Example – BS (before stroke), when I wanted to sleep in a little after my alarm went off, time flew by & all of a sudden I was late for work. Now, I feel like I have slept in by 15-20 minutes & only 3 or 5 minutes have passed.

Also, a trip that should only take 5 minutes, feels so much longer. The same 5 minutes it would take BS now feels like it would take forever because so much more effort is expended. For instance – A quick trip to grab something I forgot in the house feels longer because I need to consciously think about things I never had to think about before. So, even though it is the same 5 minutes, it feels like that time is too small to accomplish something.

Bah. I give up again.

Anyway, since I had about 15 hours a day to sit in a car to visit 5 states (see my Trip of the Weird pictures on FaceBook for clarification and/or entertainment), I had time to consider a few things that I hadn’t thought about before.

It’s not just my physical abilities that I miss from BS, it is also my sense of self-worth and confidence. By volunteering, working, doing research (that promises to happen soon, I think [beaurocracy]), learning to run again – with all of these things, I am ‘buying back’ some pieces of myself that were stripped from me.

FYI – I realize that the terminology that I use can be taken incorrectly (buying back pieces of myself), just ask my therapist who was *really* not happy about those choice of words. 🙂

What I mean by that is that volunteering results in me feeling good about myself, improving my self worth (having a higher value to the community). Being able to run will help with my feelings of vulnerability. Doing research (which, I think [in my lowly opinion], that I’m pretty kick-ass at) will help me feel like my education was worthwhile and that I am being a productive member of society.

My therapist has tried valiantly to drill it into my head that ‘just being’ is worth value.

Look, that is just not my bag. I need to feel that I am contributing to this world in some way, shape, or form. I pass no judgment on someone who chooses differently, this is the requirement for me and me alone. I’m good with it.

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