Today marks the 3-year anniversary of my hemorrhagic stroke. It has become a day of reflection for me each year.
It’s been hard to focus on the good things for me this past year, despite how much good there was and is. Depression and anxiety are words I never thought would find their way into my life, but they have; it happens and you just have to deal with it. I’m ok, but some days are harder than others. I retreat into the safety of solitude and prayer when I’m not sure which way to go.
At three years post-stroke, my recovery is still ongoing but I’m physically strong and the damaged part of my Brain is stable. My left foot and lower leg are a constant reminder to me that I’m not the same, but I’ve learned and am still learning how best to care for them. The biggest thing is to keep moving, strengthening, and stretching. All. The. Time. New people I meet have no idea what happened to me, which is a great compliment they can’t tell. Words come easier, the brain fog is lifting a bit (when I can get enough sleep), and I’m strong from a lot of physical exercise and weight training. I’m not cycling at this point; I tried it a few times and although I can do it, it takes so much focus it’s just not fun right now. Maybe with some more time.
What I realized during the night though (another sleepless night, thanks #wyomingwind) is how remarkable it is that many of my movements and actions are completely automatic again. There are hundreds of muscle movements in my left hand, arm, and leg that just happen now without my having to “tell” my brain what to do. When I remember what a breakthrough it was for me to have enough wrist and finger movement to stack a couple of cones during PT at the rehab unit, under such intense concentration I was immediately exhausted, it’s pretty mind-blowing that I’m typing this at normal speed just like I used to pre-stroke. Our bodies are incredible!
I can’t end my yearly reflection without thanking the love of my life for his undying and constant support and encouragement. He is my absolute, unequivocal rock. Thank you Mark, my sweet love.
“This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor…Welcome and entertain them all. Treat each guest honorably. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.” -Rumi
Me at the Grand Canyon April 2015. I did a 9-mile hike down and back up the Bright Angel Trail, a feat a brain hemorrhage survivor like me doesn’t take for granted.