Monday, December 31, 2012

Resolved

New Year's eve is typically a time for self-reflection and resuloution-making, so obviously, I have a lot to think about tonight, As I was contemplating tonight's post, I signed onto everybody's favorite website, Facebook, and saw this:"Goals for 2013: STRENGTH. Strong body, strong voice, strong choices. No weak, passive, lame-o behavior. " It was a status update that one of my astonsihingly, brilliant and insightful friends posted and I rhought, "Huh, was that meant for me? It certainly seems like it is; strong body, let's get my vessel back in fighting shape, strong voice, I would love it if I could finally embrace my new speaking voice, or accent, as I've begun referring to it, strong choices, well, I decided a few weeks ago that 2013 will be about me getting my swagger back, so I will be following my heart and my instincts as much as is reasonable, the kicker was  the part about no weak, passive or lame-o behavior. Lately I've been getting really annoyed with the constant whining that I allow to fly out of my mouth, well, no more, my life is perfect, the way ir is and I'm gonna stop complaining about it, damnit! And stop feeling sorry for myself, because that's awaste of my time and precious energy.

So, while 2012 was about getting my physical independence back and accepting the circumstances of my life, 2013 is about a new, more positive, compassionate and forgiving  perpective towards myself. Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Credit Where it's Due

I had some very special visitors ta few days ago , my two cousins, Julia and Leah, I basically grew up with these two women Leah just got married a few months ago, I had to miss it, I was heart broken about that, I haven't seen her since she got married and I have't seen Julia since the stroke, most importantly Julia hadn't met Charlotte yet

In an effort to allow Matt a chance to sleep in I decided to get up and get Charlotte put together for her two guests. I was nervous about getting her dressed; If I were to say that the stroke took out what little self-confidence I had, that would be the understatement of the century. As I apprached Charlotte's changing table to pick out her outfit a million self-doubting thoughts flitted through my head, could I pick out something that wopuld match? I don't know what still fits, I can't get her shoes on by myself. But I stopped and told myself to shut the hell up, I am perfectly capable of dressing my 13-month-old. And I did! Shoes socks and everything! She looked cute too! It's like I'm turning into a real Mom or something.

I wendownstairs and proclaimed my accomplishment to my brother-In-Law and my friend, who both cheered for me, then later that day my bro-in-Law threw down another challenge for me: since we werehosying Christmas at his place he was more than a little stressed, so he had to run some errends to prepare, he asked me to wrap a present for him while he was out. My immediate thought was,"I can't wrap a present with one hand, is he crazy?" Well, jeeze, that's no way to go through life, is it? I was immediately annoyed withmyself for thinking that way. Wrapping presents has always been my favorite thing about this season, like hell I'm gonna give that up. So I wrapped the damn thing, it wasn't perfect, but it looked better than I thought it would be, so I've now decided that it's time for me to start giving myself a little credit instead of instantly assuming I' can't do something, because everytime I try something I think I can't do, I manage to accomplish it, go figure!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tis the Season

Christmas of 2012 was a bit different from Christmas of 2011, just a bit...

Last year, I was released from rehab for one day on Christmas and had to return at the end of the day, which sucked, because I was being released from rehab two days later.

I woke up so excited on Christmas day, so excited to see my family to eat real food in my home with my baby. Matt wheeled me out into the crisp December air, I had barely been outside since early November os being outside was quite an event, we drove home, I sat in the passenger seat, staring blankly out of the window, excited, and anxious to get home. I believe Matt wheeled me into the house, either that or I hauled myself in on my cane, I wasn't walking freestyle yet. I remember sitting at dinner, still in my comatose state, the state I lived in for the first four months post-stroke, so I sat at dinner, mindlessly shoveling food into my mouth, bsrely tasting it, embarassed because there was someone I didn't know very well at dinner that night, I was incredibly self-conscious about eating in front of people because my mouth was still not working well enough to makes it a neat process, my attention span was also so terrible that I made a huge mess out of myself and anything close to me when I ate. So, I sat at Christmas dinner, trying to pay attention to the many conversations going on around me, battling, my insecurity, in fact, I barely remember any of it., at some point we retreated into the living room and Matt was nice enough to put Ian McKellan's Richard III on for me to watch, because I had been quoting it non stop, "Now is the winter of my discontent." and so on. I immediately fell asleep in the chair I sat down in, and Matt took me up to our bedroom where we lay down for a nap and a chance to cuddle, one of our favorite activities, which we hadn't been able to do for two months. I sank into the familiar an soft matress and nested down into the manny layers of blankets that live on my bed, nesteled myself deep into Matt's arms and cried my face off, our bed was so warm, so familiar and so comfortable, the thought of having to go back to the hospital was torture, even if it was just for two daysm I knew it would be the longest two days of my life, After I got the tears out I had the modt restful nap of my life. Then we went back to the hospital and my routine there.

This year, we got up on Christmas morning in our comfy, warm bed, I was greeted with the familiar faces of my family, the laughter of my daughter as she played with her cousins, I walked down the stairs on my own and sat on the couch, watching intently as all of the kids and others opened gifts, paying close attention to everymoment drinking it in, happy to be having such a normal Christmas morning, I drank coffee and ate my traditional cinnamon rolls that my mother-In -Law bought for me, so I could participate in my famiily's Christmas morning tradition.

It was certainly the best Christmases I've spent, it was everything Christmas is supposed to be, filled with love, laughter and people you care about.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dark Night

Man years ago, I went to breakfast at a Denny's in Connecticut after my apartment warming party and sat with a girl who would eventually be one of my closest friends there, we sat for hours, smoking cigarettes,drinking coffee and talking, is there anything else to do at a Denny's?

She was a religious girl so our conversation turned to an intense discusion about the crisis of faith I experienced at 15 when my grandmother passed away.

After decades of devoted service to the church and a deep faith in God and Jesus, losing my grandmother, my soul mate, was too much, so, I basically told God to fuck off, stopped going to chuch and started practicing Wicca, with a hint of Norse practice tossed in for good measure.

My new friend and I talked about the dark night of the soul that day, I had never heard of this phenomenom, so when she told me about the poem, it made perfect sense yes I had gone through a dark night, and reached a higher concsiouness as a result a more sure and secure sense of faith be cause of it.

As the "apocyalypse" fast approaches, there is a lot of talk about wat it means, for a long time, I have thought it portents a large social shift, but I am finding myself in the midst of a dark night again. Lately I've ben experiencing some pretty negative emotions and lots od delf-doubt and a general discomfort with myself, I feel uncomfortable in my skin and I'm not sure how to act. I want to resuurrect this Old Liz person my husband seems to miss so much, because we're not so crazy about Liz 2.0. So, this past week has been tough, I've been plunged into a dark place of awkwardness andin security, but all I want is to present a strong face to my child, I want her to have a strong example of womanhood, and that's what she's going to get, damnit. So, am I in the midst of a dark night? I was reading some new age websites on the subject and apparently travelling through a dark night can result in a higher level od cocsiousness, so, wil that be MY apocyalypse? is the apocalypse somply a shift in consciouness? Or is the social order going to change? I dunno, but I'm excited to come out on the other side od this tunnel of sad I'm in and see where it lands me.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The One Where I Attend the Church of the White Way of Delight

I've been following this blog for a long time, I stumbled across it during a time that was really tough for Matt and I Obviously, I've been using many of the tips Gretchen Rubin suggests, especially imitating my spiritual master, Anne Shirley. The Anne books have captivated me since I discovered them as a young girl, Anne's dreamy way of looking at the wolr has always spoken to me and I use one of her most famous quotes at the end of a bad day, when I have one;"Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it." So when I'm getting ready for bed at the end of a bad day, a day when I make a lot of mistakes due to not paying enough attention to what I'm doing or a day when I let my fear get the best of me, I look at myself in the mirror and repeat this phrase to myself and simply tell myself, "Tomorrow will be better." Ifind these little nudges I give myself help a lot, I worry l and fixateless on what I would normally view as failures, but take them as lessons to take into the next day of what not to do and what to pay attention to, behavior to change, and that's the best anyone can do with any day.

So is it posible my approach to processing bad day has improved? Gee, maybe this stroke thing isn't the tragedy I thought it was!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The One Where I Start Using A New Vocabulary

My BFF Sheila came for a visit today, from the beginning of this ordeal she has been a wall of strength for me, always letting me know that she believes in me and finding me support in places I never would have looked for it. She is always full of advice for me, ways to fight depression and hoplessness when it creeps in she also fully beieves in my body's ability to heal itself and makes sure that I have the same belief as well.

I have a tendency to use self-deprecating humor to diffuse any discomfort my disability may cause ain others, so, I have a tendency to refer to myself in less than positive terms, usualy to get a laugh, I will refer to myself as brain damaged, which is, in fact, true.

Because my self-confidence has taken a hit because of all of this, I haven't quite gotten my swagger back yet, but I'm working on it, I tend to be pretty negative when I talk about myself, I will call myself stupid, constantly insult my speaking voice and second grade quality writing and, generally be down on myself, which I'm sure makes lots of people uncomfortable, because no one likes that person.

Today, Sheila pointed out , multiple times that I need to change my narrative when I'm talking about myself and she's right, as usual. I feel embarrassed after spending an afternoon bemoaning my exsistence and saying nasty things about myself, because it's ridiculous, I've come so far from where I started, I never could have imagined having this much peace of mind when I began this journey. Do I still get mad? Yes! It's really shitty and this whole thing sucks! I want to hug my daughter with both arms, goddamnit! and I will, mark my words, some day I will and it will be the best hug I will ever give and the best hug Charlotte will ever get!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The One Where I Have to Wear Shades

We had a full staff meeting at work today.

Full Staff meetings hold a special place in my heart for a couple reasons: 1. We had one scheduled right after my stroke and I was pleading with anyone who would listen to let me out of the ICU so I could go to it so I could show my baby off anf show everybody that I was ok, unbeknownst to me, I was not ok enough to go, 2. Full staff meetings give me a chance to see my co-workers that I used to see everyday of the week, but due to my part-time schedule, that I never see. I look forward to these meetings, they are exciting, entertaining and make me feel like I am still woven into the fabric that is the co-op At the beginning of every meeting we have what we call check-ins, it's a way for every staff member to connect with the other staff members and let everyone know where they're at, mrntally and emotionally, because these check-ins can get long, our GM asks a question for us to answer as part of our check-in, today's question sent me reeling, as part of our check-in we had to say our name, what department we work in and answer this question: What are you most excited about for the year 2013? Well, As I was thinking about what my answer would be, it was hard to put my finger on one thing, as the mother of a quickly growing child, I am excited everyday to see what new, amazing thing she learns, today it was clapping! Plus, I am excited to see how far I come in my recovery in 2013. My answer ended up eith this: Maybe I'll be running in 2013, I plan to walk a 5k next summer and, I will hopefully finish and publish my book. As we went around the circle, my mind kept dreaming up the great things that are in stor for me in the coming years. Everyday is a new adventure and I never know what new, cool thing I'm going to accomplish, I have to say, these days, it's pretty exciting to wake up in the morning.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The One With No Regrets

From time to to time, Matt and I  discuss what would have happened had I not gotten pregnant when I did.Now, let me be clear, I got pregnant very much on purpose, my clock's alarm was going off loudly and forcibly, unbeknownst to my husband  was using an online natural family planningwebsite and tracking my ebbs and flows, so, the night we concived Charlotte was planned,  I'm sure of what day it was because I had to do it that night.

Both Matt and I agree, we love Charlotte, at whatever her arrival may have cost us. I am so happy she is here, without her, I would have given up, long ago, I would have stayed in bed all day long in my first few days at home after I left rehab, seeing her is what motivated me to drag my depressed, scared ass out of bed.
I have no choice other than to suceed because of her, I want to be a good example for her, of how to behave when adversity rears it's ugly head; Do you give up? No. Do you rise to thr occasion and let it make you a better person? Hell yes.
So, what would I do differently? I would have asked for a c-section and refused the pitocin, if I knew would happen. ButI Wouldn't change a thing. Yes. things are kind of a pain in the ass now and it's harder to do things like change diapers, put my hair up and crochet, but I am slowly evolving into a person I never thought I could be. My life is perfect the way it is. I am perfect the way I am, because I'm here and doing my best everyday, which is something Old Liz couldn't claim, so I think I'm ahead of the gamre.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The oOne Where I Pay Attention To Stuff

When I dove into the New Age community at the end of my college life, I started hearing a lot of people talk about being present, I was never too sure what that meant..I'm here, doesn't that count as being present? No. It doesn't. Being present means taking in and paying attention to the moment, experiencing every moment of life for the beautiful thing it is.

I have made it my mission to be present everymoment of everyday, and let me tell you, it is challenging. I know I've mentioned my extreme exhaustion, well, that's cleared up a bit, but any extra excitement in my day sends me to the couch for a power nap and now, I've been put on muscle relaxers, in an attempt to loosen up the muscle spasisity in my arm, so I can move it around, these new pills floor me, I am constantly fighting against my closing eyelids so I am present with Charlotte, so I do not miss one precious moment with her, as she learns something new and cool, like how her Russian nesting dolls work as a result of this intense focus I force myself to maintain all day, so I am fully engaged with my husband and child, I am exhausted by the end of the day, but I feel ssatisfied ofthat I've milked every delightful drop out out of my day, so I go to bed, tired and happy, content that I did not check out once during the day, but paid attention to everything that needed my attention, no guilt, no regret, it's worth the work. It always is.

a

Friday, November 30, 2012

The One With the Other Woman

The other day, one of my co-workers said something really cool to me, we were reviewing a task that I used to perform with great regularity and I was trying to remember how I used to do it.

I told her that I now have a hard time remembering my old routines, like showering and getting ready in the morning because my new routine have become so...well, routine, I went farther and said that I couldn't remember what I was like before the stroke, then she said that she couldn't remember what I es like before the stroke either, because she just thinks of me as I am now.

zthis was so wonderful to hesr, because it is nice knowing that someone accepts me for who I am, rather than comparing me to my former self, like I do all of the time, it;s frustratin, I feel like I'm in constant competition with myself, so much so that I sometimes hate Old Liz. What's so great about her anyway? Why do I have to be like this person? I'm fine the way I am, there seem to be plenty of people around me who seem to think I'm pretty neat and some people who like Liz 2.0 better than Old Liz!

So where does this leave me? Well, I think it's time to stop being ashamed of my speaking voice and start being myself, unabashedly, like that other chick was

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The One Where I Make My Point

As I was thinking about my blog post from last night this morning, I realized what my point that I never made was; What I wanted to say is that before this happened I never would have even tried to talk to my new co-hort out of fear and not knowing what to say, but I believe I have found a kindred spirit that I would have otherwise overlooked because I didn't understand. So, remember, make sure not to discount those people who make you a little uncomfortable because hey are different, or because they force you to face your mortality, you may miss out on a bosom friend! Or it might be me!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

hTiny miracles

Most people are uncomfortable around those of us with disabilities, I know I was, but now I find myself surrounded by peopl who I formerly would have been uncomfortable around, I'm even making friends with them!

 Ther is a woman at the university's clinic that I've taken a shine to. She has pretty severe aphasia: an impairment of language ability. This class of language disorder ranges from having difficulty remembering words to being completely unable to speak, read, or write. Aphasia is usually linked to brain damage and the most common brain injury that causes aphasia is a stroke. The brain damage which links aphasia can also cause further brain diseases such as cancer, epilepsy and Alzheimer'sShe is only able to use a few words: "nice", "things" "thank you and"nice", the interesting thing about her is that she understands language and if you listen to her responses you can completely understand her response to whatever you said to her, she used to be a rofessional chef and was very impressed whe I told her today that Matt made a pumpkin pie from scratch., she is fiesty and has tons of personality, I love it when we get to work on something together. then, one day, something amazing happened, Charlotte really digs her and she spends a lot of time talking to Charlotte, the other day she said "hi Charlotte." it was a miracle! I felt so lucky to share in that big moment in her life. And it is small miracles like those that make me excited to get up every morning, because you never know. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

The One With One Turkey for 2.75 People

I know I said earlier this year that last Thanksgiving was the best, most profound meal I've had in my 34 yrears of life. Well, I'm going to amend that statement and I'm going to tell you why, because yesterday was better and I'm going to tell you why

Due to the fact that our families are spread across the North American continent, Matt and I had no plans for Thanksgiving yesterday, ehich I was kind of bummed about, I was excited to spend Thankshiving this year the way I intended to last year; with a big dinner with my family and new baby.

Being a reasonable person, it can happen, sometimes, I did not expect any sort of thanksgiving fare last night, since it was just going to be Matt, Charlotte and I. I did not think a turkey for two adults and one 12-month-old made sense, then, one day earlier this week, Matt came home from the grocery store with a turkey!To my surprise and delight my tireless, overworked and ambitious husband decided that he was going to cook a full thanksgiving spread for our new, little family.Last night he nade, cranberry sauce, stuffing a delicious turkey, pumpkin pie, made from scratch, brussels sprouts mashed potatoes with peas and gravy.

It was the most delicious meal I'v ever had on thanks giving, because there was so much love mixed in in, one more time in the past year I've felt rich beyond my wildest dreams is while I was shoveling a forkfull of food into my face while I was watching Charolotte squish the cranberry sauce we gave her onto her face along with the rest of her food tha ended up on her face, it was the thanksgiving I wanted, I wanted to watch my baby enjoy all of the delicious food that come with this holiday and if the amount of mess she made is a reflection of how much she liked it, then, she loved it!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Humble Pie

For most of my adult life, I've struggled with a fair amount of insecurity and self-loathing, so, I'd never categorize myself as an egotistic person.

But...

This whole experience has been incredibly humbling for many reasons some of them being:

-having to ask for help when I've always been the "I can do it myself!" type

-not having a significant amount of control over my body and having people watch me struggle to do very small, simple things

But the thing that has been the most humbling for me are the things people say about me. I am constantly referred to as courageous and inspiring. Now, let me be clear, I'm glad that it seems that way, but I feel like a big phony when people call me those things, sometimes I wish they'd stop, I get embarrassed, because I've never acted like a bigger scaredey-cat in my life. I just don't want to present myself to the world as this fabulous, strong and brave woman and pretend like that's true, I want to honest. I'm scared all. of. the.time. Of stupid things; getting knocked over by the dog, any flight of stairs, going up curbs, it's really lame. And inspiring? Trust me, in my weakest moments, there is nothing inspiring about my hysterical crying as I throw my various temper tantrums over some little thing I can't do because it takes two hands.

I just want to be honest. I am not a perfect model of stoic heroism, I would be lying if I didn't show who I really am. I'm scared, pissed off and, like hell, this is going to syop me from living my life and making a difference.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Resolved

On January 1st, 2012, I made a promise, on Facebook, here's what I said:"2012: The year of the Hinz girls walking" I thought about that statement today as Iwatched Charlotte slowly shuffle her way across the living room totally unassisted. I thought about that statement and what really got me teary-eyed is the fact that when I made that resolution, I had no idea as to whether I would be able to walk unassisted again. It was haunting, but there I was watching Netflix as I watched my baby grow up in front of me, after my backyard walk, which I've amped up to five laps. I had no idea what to expect out of recovery , we always discussed recovery in hushed tones as if we were discussing something sacred. I didn't know if I'd be walking again by the end of the year or months after my resolution was made, which was the case. So yes, the Hinz girls are mobile, eatch out world!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

What a difference a Year Makes!

One year ago, at this time: 2am, I would have been drifting off (crashing into) sleep while Matt watched Adult swim on our TV in our room at rehab. My nurse for the night, Rory or Angela, or , if I was lucky, Joni, would have just popped their head in to check my blood pressure and to see if I had to pee, which I probably did, or if I needed water. I would have undergine the ful battery of therapies furing the day: speech, Recreational, Occupational, and Physical and I would have struggled to stay awake for all of them, just waiting til I had a few spare minutes to fit in a power nap, which is all I ever had time for during my busy days in rehab I probably would have cried at some point in the day, asked Matt, "Why did this happen?"I would have struggled to walk 90 feet in PT. I probably would have only held Charlotte once during the day.

Today, Ispent the whole day hanging out with Charlotte, weplayed with some of her new toys, read a book, and walked around the living room together, a task that was not as difficult as it was a year ago, in fact, a year ago, I had no idea whether I'd ever walk without a cane again. I did not cry today or bemoan my situation, in fact, I've been spending most of my days fighting through the constant haze tof exhaustion that is my permanent companion, so as to fully participate in my life. A year ago, I would describe myself as brain dead. I was soooo tiredand so unables to process any information that I could barely carry on a simple conversation, let alone try to be prsent in my life.

Today I did grab a power nap. I also held Charlotte a lot and changed her diaper and got her food, things I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to do  year ago, so, today, I spent most of the day amazed at how far I've come in a year after such a devastating event, so please, trust and know that things can and will always get better. No matter how dark anf hopeless it seems.



Monday, November 12, 2012

You've got a Friend

I'm sure some people who know me must think I have a very hard life and therefore must be completely uninterested or unsympathetic to my friend's everyday trials and tribulations, this is very untrue. Now, Old Liz in this situation would have been very impatient with friends complaining about their everyday issues, her response would have been. "You think THAT'S a problem?! I've got actual problems!" But New and Improved Liz, or Liz 2.0 as, a I've begun referring to myself is a little more patient and a little less judgemental and selfish and more focused on being a good friend and partner than I was before, so I happily listen to my friends' woes and cares attentively and I try to offer as much perspective as I can.

It's recently come to my attention that some of my friends feel that their problems are not as bad as mine are and therefore they feel bad complaining to me. This makes me sad, because, I feel that my job as a friend is to be a sounding board for my buddies, a place they can go to to vent their frustrations and try to sort through their problems. What I've learned since all of this happened, is that everybody's problems are as real to them as mine are to me, they are just different, just because I have different hurdles to jump doesn't mean I no longer care about what weighs heavy on my friend's minds. In fact, I care more, I want to know, I want to help, this event has given me a fair amount of perspective on life and I want to use what I have deduced to help others through their tough stuff.

So, my dear friends, please don't hesitate to call me when you need a friend, I'm ready and willing to help!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cheering the caregivers

When a person has a stroke, all of the attention, care and focus immediately goes to the survivor, but we often forget about the other person who is as affected as the survivor:
The caregiver.  A stroke survivor is often affected to the point where they can no longer care for themselves; They do not have the physical capabilities cognitition to stay safe, so they need help. We focus so much on how to keep the survivor healthy, both physically and emotionally, but we forget about the caregiver. Often the caregiver is a spouse, sibling, parent or child, some who cares deeply for the survivor.

While the survivor has to go through the grieving process to adjust to how different their life is now, the caregiver does too, we forget about that. These people, in some cases witnessed the stroke as it happened, sat afraid that their loved one wouldn't survive and waited, unsure of how affected they would be, on top of that, they take on a huge job, supporting and caring for the person that they care for most in the world.

It must be so difficult to watch ypur spouse change so much, it must be terrifying to recall the event that almost stole their love away. I know, around here, the thing Matt struggles with the most is the fact that my cognitive abilities have been altered so much, my brain functions differently now, so I react to things in a completely different way than I would have before, so, at times, I'm sure it must feel like he's married to someone different now.

So, anytime we hear a caregiver get short with their survivor, let's cut them some slack, they are probably tired and sad and have taken on a difficult and demanding task that tries the soul from time to time.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Rich

When I lived in Connecticut my boyfriend and would go out on the atlantic on his friend's boat.

It wasn't a big or a fancy  boat, just a little speed boat, but tooling around on the water , past all of the big, beautiful homes, with the WARM SUN beaming down on my skin and the cool breeze in my hair made me feel like the richest girl in the world and all I needed was the water a boat, some good tunes and a few people I loved spending time with.

today reminded me of that feeling, we had charlotte's 1st birthday party, it was a last minute, kind of thrown together affair, we had pizza, a few guests and a deliscious cake made by a friend of mine, at one point during the party, as I sat and watched my friend's daughter play with Charlotte and talked to a friend I hadn't seen in awhile, I thought to myself, "I am so rich! Rich in friends, family and life in general. Who needs money when there are so many things to enjoy that don't reqiuire a cent?"

Friday, November 2, 2012

365

365 days ago today, at about this time, 10:28PM, I was being wheeled into the operating room for an emergency c-section, what nobody knew at the time was that my brain was bleeding slowly, forming a clot on the right frontal lobe of my brain, that clot was pushing my brain to the left, At 10:28PM, my husband, Matt didn't know was if his new daughter that was moments away from being born would have a mother, he also didn't know if he was going to have a wife.What I didn't know, was thatI was about to give birth to the most wonderful, funny, self-confident young lady I've ever had the pleasure to meet. I also didn't know that I was about to begin the most challenging, life-changing and rewarding adventure of my life. I also had no idea what love and generosity truly were.

Once I was cognizent enough to understand what had happened, it took a few days for the news to sink in, I didn't know if I would ever walk again, I couldn't even sit up straight, so walking seemed like a dream, today, I walked through the grocery store and pushed my beautiful birthday girl in a cart, just like a real mom, and watched her as she greeted every person she spotted with a huge smile.

365 days ago, I was desperate to go to a work meeting, I loved my job and co-workers so much, I wanted to go so I could show them I was ok and I wanted to show my baby off, I didn't know if I'd ever return to work again, today, I am there at least once a week, and am determined to find myself a place there again where I ca n use my experiences for the good of the co-op.

365 Days ago, I could barely speak audibly or clearly

today I spoke with a woman I barely know and shared my story with her, I tell anyone I can, in the hopes that I can help someone through a hard time by showing them that I am proof that anything is possible if you believe in yourself.

365 days ago, I ws unsure of whether I could live without my left hand.

Today I am typing with my right hand and doing a fine job, I also pushed my baby in a grocery cart with one hand. And managed to not run into anything.

It's been a hard, interesting and amazing year, thanks for cheering me on!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Snowflakes

"Every stroke is different."
 Is the common chorus I hear from any therapist or doctor when I ask about the possibility of full recovery.

This phrase always reminds me of that old saying that everyperson is unique, like a snowflake.

There is nowhere that this becomes clearer to me than when I am at the university's OT clinic.
Everyone of the clients are stroke survivors and it is obvious that stroke affects everyone very differently and everyone recovers in their own way, at their own speed. Compared to some of the clients, I am a marathon runner physically, the affects of stroke vary widely, from those of us with significant paralysis in an arm or leg and some who are completely bound to a wheelchair, unable to interact with the outside world, to those suffering from aphasia, the inability to use or understand language, I feel at home there, no one is staring at me, wondering, but I used to sit and compare myself with other clients, why can that person use their affected arm when I can't? That person walks way more smoothly than I do, but I know now that I am healing in my own specific way and I feel very lucky to have the ability to communicate when so many lose that skill, plus it all boils down to the type of stroke the person suffered,I, of course, the girl who loves to be as overdramatic as possible, had the worst kind of stroke you can have! A hemmorhagic stroke damages more brain tissue, because blood kills brain tissue, an ischemic stroke, on the other hand, is still truamatic, but in this case, oxygen flow is cut off to the brain and the affects of this kind of stroke tend to be slightly less severe than in a hemorrhagic stroke, please do not misinterpret my meaning, I'm  not saying that people who suffer from ischemic stroke have it easy, they don't there are still huge challenges, what I'm driving at is that there are parts of my brain thare just dead, we are in a waiting game to see when those parts will spring back to life, something I fully believe will happen.

S, instead of comparing myself to others, I am going to start appreciating my snoewflakiness.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Forgiveness

I've been thinking about forgiveness an awful lot since this happened; I've never been the most temperate person, I fly off the handle easily and get mad and form grudges over teeny tiny things, so I've been considering, is it really worth my limited energy to stay mad at someone over something that happened forever ago? Nope. Life is way too short to carry anger around forever. I came pretty close to dying and there were people I was mad at that would never have known how important they were to to me simply because I was mad an too proud to let go of what I was holding onto, yesterday,  I spologized to someone who played a vital and important role in my life, someone I treated badly and man, it felt good to send that energy out into the cosmos! And I was greeted with a very humble and kind reply, not exactly what I expected.

So the moral of the story is? Forgive each other, we owe it to onr another, it takes too much energy to hang onto hate and you never know when ypur last chance to make things right may be.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Decided

Due to an unfortunate event last week my irrational fear of the stairs and entering the bathroom at the top of said stairs reared it's ugly head again. After a couple of nights lying in bed fretting over my entry tactics and  handful of sucessful entries through the scary doorway, I got over it.

Because I decided that I didn't want to be scared of it anymore, so I told myself I wasn't and wouldn't you know it? I believed it! S now as I'm beginning a task that strikes unreasonable fear into my heart I tell myself that I'm not afraid because I don't have to be and astonishingly, it works! This new discovery has made my world much easier and less scary to navigate.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tough...

Today I went to see my primary care physician, just to follow up on the treatment he recommended for my way too frequent headaches, t the end of the visit he said, "It's a good thing you're so tough."

"I don't feel very tough." was my sheepish response, he chuckled.


Maybe he chuckled because I was being ridiculous, because I spent the whole visit trying to get a laugh, but was greeted with unamused glances, so why would he chuckle at such an offhand and truthful comment?

Because, really, I do not feel like the tough, warrior woman that people seem to think I am and that I want to be, so I work to maintain this tough exterior pretending that I am not bothered by my altered state of being, maybe I'll eventually believe that little white lie I tell myself eventually. It's tiring to maintain that facade because, I' am scared all of the time, scared of falling down the stairs of tripping while walking, of stumbling while I try to hoist myself up onto a curb, scared of my daughter not want her disabled mom around because she is embarrassed, scared that my over worked, overtired husband will eventually give into the stress of it all and leave.Truthfully, I am pretty much a giant ball of anxiety, you can pretty much assume if you see me I am fretting over something or other, I know, I know, it's not good to worry overmuch, not good for my mental health or my recovery, but there it is, your warrior woman is basically a wet rag most of the time, ready to melt into a puddle of tears at a moments notice, I even feel like crying as I type these words.

Am I tough? I don't think so, but I'm doing my damndest to be everyday and I hope I'm making everyone proud.

Friday, October 12, 2012

To Life

A year ago on October 10th, as I was turning 33, I was anxiously awaiting the pains that would signal my daughter's entrance into the world, little did I know her entrance would in a completley different manner than I expected. I tend to use my birthday as a time to reflect on the last year of life, to set new goals, last year I was wrapped in my expectation, wondering who this person was who kept shoving her butt into my ribs and wondering who this little person would turn me into, I wondered what my 34th birthday would be like as a mom.

Well, 34 came and went, I was as reflective, if not more than I usually am, but this year I was just happy to have made it to 34, as there was a chance I may not have. Mat and I visited Three West, so I had more to think about and as we drove through town, tears came to my eyes as I watched the beautiful fall colors slide by my window, I was so happy to be alive on that perfect autumn day, my daughter, who a year ago seemed so far way giggled in her car seat as I made faces at her, and I realized that, not only has this experience made me a stronger person, but a better one, I resolved to vut out the complaing anytime things aren't the way I want them to be, I also resolved to quit saying nasty things about myself, like calling myself retarded, fat and crooked.

It was probablt the best birthday I've had

Thursday, October 4, 2012

discipline

As I was taking my backyard Walk today I was thinking about how much self-discipline this has taken on my part, I've never been very disciplined, if I started a workout routine or a diet of some kind, my motivation always wavered and I'd give up the ghost. But I do my exercises everyday, damnit! I make sure John and I take a really long walk at least twice a week and I always go on my backyard walk, no matter what, I also am attempting to rid my world of negative self-talk, I never want Charlotte to hear me say bad things about myself, I don't want her picking that habit up, and only saying nice things about yourself is surprisingly hard, so I have become this new incredibly disciplined person as a result of this, so I guess it isn't all bad.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

And Of an Era

When Matt wheeled me into my first session of outpatient therapy, I was despondent, I couldn't walk, had a tough time talking and couldn't care for my baby. Today as I walked out for the last time into the grey, rainy October day I was overwhelmed by emotion, I have my life back because of the time I spent there. I can now care for my baby, I can walk(I did 2.3 miles yesterday, in fact) and express myself just fine plus I met some awesome people to boot.

I think the most incredible thing about this experience is the people I have met as a result, people who I never would have met, people who in different circumstances I would have been besties with. My therapists took a broken, weak, despondent, apathetic woman an helped trasnsform her into the strong, working,  2.3 mile- walking detemined woman I am today. Without them, I'd still be dependent on my wheelchair when I went out in public and I wouldn' be as actively involved in Charlotte's life.

They helped me to believe that there is life after stroke and it can be a good life, regardless of how much of me works.

And they like me, not knowing Old Liz, only New and Improved, so that must mean I'm still my normal, likable self!

So now, the ball is in my court, so to speak, I will continue to fight the good fight everyday, keep telling Larry that he can come back and continue believing that I will give out two armed hugs again.

Now the future is open in front of me and the all I see are possibilities, love and hope. It's not over, it wont be til I am six feet under, I will keep enjoying the hell out of everyday and being thankful for all of the therapists who were sent to me to heal my body and spirit.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Labels

There has been a massive smack down going on in my psyche between Old Liz and New Liz. Who is better?Old Liz is the girl I've become pretty saccustomed to over the years, she's loud, smarmy, a total smart ass and loves to make terrible jokes, ne liz's mind moves a little slower, tallks a little quiter and more slowly, she still makes awful jobs, and sings cheesy songs when the mood strikes her, so she's really not that different from Old Liz, New Liz is also more grateful for all she has, enjoys everyday a little more than Old Liz did, she is also kinder and less judgemental and more patient, si I have decided to dubNe Liz as New and Improved Liz. That''l probably help resolve the boxing match.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Haunted

I am haunted by a woman, everywhere I go there are traces of this person. she left little bits of herself all over my world, in my bedroom, at my work, I feel just out of reach of her, so close I can feel her essence surge through me, but I'm not sure how to capture it. She is who I was before the stroke. Sometimes I hold things that she handled a lot before the stroke, desperately hoping her energy will sink into my brain and restore the state of mind that was there before. But, after having a nice chat with my boiss tonight, I am thinking that  I need to stop chasing that woman down, that the person who has taken her place is just fine, has her own talents, insights and thoughts. So, just like any ghost that haunts someone, I will continue to live side by side with this person, staring over my shoulder, urging me to be my best selfm to take advantage of this second chance we have been given

Saturday, September 29, 2012

You Can Quote Me

I don't remember much from my time in the ICU, but there is one oncident that stands out:

It ws a typical day in my ICU room, it was full of people, Matt was there, of course and my family, I was dozing in my bed, listening to the conversations goig on around me, content to be surrounded by so many people who loved me. I heard my mother say something along the lines of, "Why did this happe? It's not fair! And I immediately piped up with the first thing that popped into my brain, "Life is pain, highness anyone who says differently is selling something." The room went quiet as it usually did when I spoke, as it was a rare occurence and I spoke so quietly no one could hear me if there was any other noise in the room once I as done speaking, no one had heard or uderstood what I had said, so I had to repeat myself multiple times, they seemed confused by my random outburst, I was worried they thought I was losing my mind, fially, Matt put his ear right next to my face and repeated what I was saying to the room, then he cleared up anyconfusion by saying, "she's quoting The Princess Bride."After which I mumbled, "See? I must be fine if I'm quoting movies, that got a chuckle out of my sister I think this event stands out because it was one of the first moments after my stroke when I still felt like myself and I was doing my best to comfort my family, to give them hope that all would be well, I have to admit, getting my sister to chuckle in my altered state felt like an accoplishment as making her laugh is one of my favorite things to do, so it gave me a nice feeling of normalcy.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

And one To Grow On!

We live near one of the amazing ntyre trails my lovely cir\ty sports. So when I asked my Brother-In-Law, John to go walking with me once a week, it wasn't a stretch. We've been going about twice a week for a month now and every time we go we try to go a little farther in the trail than we did before, just to challenge me and build my endurance, the exercise part is probably good too. The trail is lined with benches, so we always aim to stop at a certain bench, then we see how I feel once we get there and I decide wether I want to keep going or not, well, yesterday, I must have been feeling adventurous, because I didn't want to stop everytime we got to a stop point, I would just keep going until we came to the point where the trail crosses over our road, probably about a half mile from where we started!And then, we walked back to the trail head, on these walks I like toexperiment with my pace and I attempt a brisk pace which I struggle to maintain as long as possible, practice makes perfect, right?The last 20 feet or so of the walk were tough, my legs were burning, my feet aching and my determination wavering, could I make it back to the car without holding onto anything? I didn't know, and no I didn't. by the time we got into the car, John had deduced that we had walked about a mile! quite an accomplishment for me, next time we're planning on going farther!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Giving Thanks

Every year Thanksgiving passes me by in a haze of overlapping conversations, turkey and mashed potatoes.

This year was going to be different;I was going to have a new baby to bring to the table and lots to be thankful for, instead I was facing spending the holiday in a hospital, but instead of it being terrible as I anticipated, it was probably the best Thanksgiving I've ever had, the first one I spent being thankful after 33 years of shoveling food into my mouth, never thinking of how great my life was.

The staff on Thre West made what could have been the most depressing thanksgiving ever into the most profound and tasty thanksgiving I've ever experienced.

For the week before Thanksgiving the satff worked with some of the paitents in preparing various Thanks giving staples so we could have Thanksgiving dinner on the unit. The day Thanksgiving rolled around, my mother was with me, so I asked her to join me with the rest of the unit. When the time came, I was whelled up to a table that was set up in the hallway, outside of the kitchen, and presented with a heaping plate of food, turkey, stuffing,and mashed potatoes and gravy and a delicious cup of sparkling cranberry drink. As I put the first bite in my mouth, my eyes welled up, I looked around me and saw all of these smiling faces, happy to see me at the dinner, eager to help me, to heal me, I saw my new baby being loved by all of these wonderful people and my husband proudly carrying her as she was admired by all, I looked at my mother, asked her to cut my meat for me, grateful that she was there with to d such a simple task for my, yet again.

In that moment I was thankful for this meal, for the love and good intention that poured into the preparation of it, thankful that I had a future to look forward to, thankful for such great medical care

It was the best Thanksgiving dinner I've ever spent. I can't wait for this year!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Choice

As a feminist the word choice is a loaded one, with many meansings consequences and the ability to incite my ire.

Everyday I have a choice to make: Am I going to enjoy my day? take advantage of what life has to offer me? Or am I going be sad that I'm a little different than I was before the stroke. Everyday I choose the former, I do sometimes catch myself fading into the latter option, but I catch myself pretty quickly and as a result, I believe I am enjoying my life much more than I did.

So, what are you going to choose for yourself today?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Puzzling

A few weeks ago a friend of mine sent me a package with a couple of puzzles in it, she said that puzzles help her focus and I thought, "Yeah, puzzles would probably be a good way to challenge my brain."

Then a few days later, my OTs started focusing on improvong my attention and concentration by having me do a puzzle during therapy. It was hard, I couldn't reason my way through it, what pieces went together, how and why and what to look at. When I was done I felt accomplished and my brain felt good, like a muscle that had not been exercised in awhile. So, I started craving more puzzles. So Matt took me to the neighborhood hobby store and bought the hardest puzzle known to man, just to challnge me. My auto mechanic brother-In Law finished it while talking on the phone for a few hours and one of the puzzles my friend sent, both reatively simple puzzles, with big pieces, but the first one I attempted, a very cute tree frog on a bamboo shoot, overwhelmed and frustrated me to no end, I could not reason my way through it, I just kept trying to shove pieces together in hopes of eventually finding a good fit ay some point. Not the best strategy. Well, one night the Brother-In-Law from heaven, John, noticed my mounting angst and sat down and paitently talked me through the best way to work on this puzzle, so I was then reasoning my way through it in a logical, calm and rational manner.

I started the second puzzle yesterday, a cute little dog in a teacup, but I began the puzzle fully confident that this was something I was capable of, and I pieced the border together, calmly and rationally, today I went to OT and we did some puzzly type things together, finding hidden pictures, you know, like the back of Highlights magazine. and I found I was using the same techniques to solve these puzzles as I was to put together that doggie puzzle, so I was doing much better on these tasks than I had previously, which made me feel smart again, which only increases my self-confidence which I fully believe helps me perform better in day to day life.

I continued to work on the doggie today as Matt chopped fire wood outside in the early autumn drizzle, I kept fitting piece after piece toheter, noticing when I made a mistake and correcting it, before it caused problems in the future, until I got the last piece in there. It was such a satisfying moment, I wanted confetti to drop from the ceiling, and I wanted a stadium full of people to cheer for me.

who knew completing a child's puzzle could bring so much pleasure?

Two Steps Forward annnd...

So remember how I proudly proclaimed that I had landed in the final and blissful stage of grief, acceptance? Little did I know you could backslide into the stages you've already conquered supposedly.

Due to mutile factors I revisited my old frien Denial, reminisced with barganing and finally, at the end of the day, I crumpled into bed and sobbed my face off as Matt cradled my broken body and treid his best to domfort my tortured soul, I was smack dab in the middle of depression, again. ready to throw in the towel loudly proclaiming, "Idon't lie this anymore." to which Matt replied, "You liked it in the first place?" giving me his best one eyebrow raised quizzical look. But, just like, Annie said, the sun came out today and I feel relieved and relaxed this morning, maybe I needed a good cry, who knows. I spend so much time trying to be dtrong for Charlotte, so she won't see the chinks in her "strong" mother's armor and mybe not think less of me because I am not fully functioning mother, s good friend of mine told me that sometimes I just need to be weak and last night I was, and it felt good to give into that, just that one time.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mama Said


I do my best to be strong. Strong for myself. Strong for Charlotte and strong for Matt, but some days I just want to crumble into a pile on my couch in front of a Gene Kelly musical and cry my eyes out while someone rocks me back and forth and strokes my hair that  tells me that I'm doing just fine and that everything will be ok.Instead I went on a walk with my angel of a brother-In- Law, everything always looks better on the other side of a walk outside. My point? I'm having a VERY bad day, and would love to melt into a puddle of self-pity, but Glee was on, so I stuck it out, grit my teeth and bared it. Which is the best all of us can do on a bad day, right?

Sorry, feeling a bit uninspired today...

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Breakfast Blues

While we were still in rehab, Matt would quite often wake from his slumber on his fold out chair bed too find me weeping over my breakfast tray.

It quickly became a running joke that the breakfast food was so abysmal that it brought me to tears. The mornings in rehab were the toughest time for me:

I know I've mentioned this before, recovering from a brain injury is exhausting business, so I would sleep deep and hard every night. At 6am a nurse would come to take my vitals and give me my medications, now, I was srtill completely exhausted when the nurse would come to shove pills in my face and quite often, I couldn't summon the energy to sit up, grab my cup of water and attempt to swallow all four of the pills that were being shoved in my face, so I'd just end up staring blankly at the little paper cup that held the pills, usually resulting in some bitchy comment coming from the nurse who was not too patiently waiting for me to talk myself into sitting up to take the damn things, so I'd get really pissed at the complete lack of insensitivity coming from whichever nurse it was, theen came the phlebotomist, so I'm laying in bed, staring at my therapy schedule and planning out when I'll be able to sneak a nap in later in the day and here comes someone else to keep me from sleeping, and they wanted blood, quite frequently I did not score a gifted phlebotomist, so my arm would be stinging once they were done with me, bacause they kept stcking me in the same place over and over again. Once I completed the worst wake-up call known to man, I would gulp those damn pills down that the pissed off nurse left for me, mumbling something about, just take them later. Promise?Once I got the pills down, I would lay back down and pass out again for a few more precious moments, knowing I'd have to conquer my breakfast before my first therapy at 8:10.

Onc I woke up, I woud stare at my breakfast and by that point all of those pills would have kicked in and every. single. pill I was on caused drowsiness, so on top of my brain injury exhaustion, I also had to battle drug induced exhaustion. So I'd stare at my food giving myself a pep talk all the while, "you can do this, just pick up thr fork, eat the bagel first, that's the easiest.

Now, mealtimes were particularly diffucult for me, there were always multiple containers of food to eat from and I had neither the attention span or concentraion to know which to eat first, causing me to become overwhelmed, plus eating was REALLY hard! My mouth didn't open all of the way , and I couldn't swallow well, either plusand I had to use my right hand, which, up til then was remarkably out of shape, so I made giant messes when I ate.

My OT, Erica would come bopping into the room at 8:10, right on achedule, I knew it, I never wanted to disappoint her so I always wanted to be ready to go when she stuck her head in, so as I stared at that tray of food, I knew I was limited as far as how much time I could take to eat, so I'd start crying, out of pure exhaustion and over stimulation, normally I'd categorze myself as a morning person, I could bop out of bed at 6am, no problem, throw myself in the shower to wake myself up, but that was not an option here, I had to wait for an OT or nurse o clean me. So I was fustrated that I could no longer be a grown up snd take care of myself in the morning.

I don't know what the point of this one is, just an anecdote, I suppose.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Motherhood...resumed

Usually when Charlotte gets up at five in the morning, which doesn't happen too frequently anymore, Matt gets up to feed her and change her, I have to strap on way too many accutrements to be stable enough to carry her and at five A.M that takes awhile, so we decided it'd be better for Matt to take care of it. As a result I'm not too keyed into her crying, I usually sleep through it, which makes me feel guilty the next morning, but this morning I heard it and thought I should go ahead and take care of my baby, so I strapped myself into my leg brace, took off the splint I wear on Larry at night and headed into the kitchen to prep a bottle, one problem, Matt tightens the lids on sooo tight! I have to clasp bottles between my legs and open  lids that way what with Larry being out of commision, I was really struggling this morning and didn't want to wake Matt up. Luckily my Brother-In-Law, John, woke up and saved the day, he opened and washed a couple of bottles for me, so we went up o Charlotte's room, changed her and fed her then I went back to bed, as did she. When she woke up again at 9 I was once again on top of it, I prepped another bottle and changed her verrry poppy diaper, when I was done instead of going back to bed, I stayed up, did my exercises and showered from that point on, I was with Charlotte all day, feeding and changing like a pro!She even took her afternoon nap on my chest for an hour. Ahhhh,,fnally, mommyhood. I feel very accomplished after the day I've had, like a real mommy. Msybr soon Matt will be able to leave us alone for awhle!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

On My Own

Another chapter in my story ended today; I had my last session of PT, it wasn't a graduation, health insurance was not going to pay for anymore and I think the therapy center was ready to move on as I'm no longer making huge leaps and bounds in my recovery. But I will not be derailed, no siree, I will continue doing my exercises and making up my own, and my brother-In- Law and I have been walking on some of the local nature trails a few times a week, somthing which I know will not only help me become stronger and faster, plus walking gives me a sense of peace and going on walks used to be one of my favorit activites. 8 months ago when I walked ( well, not walked, Matt wheeled) into therapy fresh out of rehab,
I was unable to stand or walk unassisted, but was still complrtrly dependent on my cane and wheelchair. my attention was still so bad that I couldn't wheel myself in the chair, I would just run into walls all of the time and wheel away from Matt and get lost.

Today, I walked out of therapy with only my leg brace for assistance, I got into the car no problem and I took a nicr, btrisk walk with my BIL, John, I am moving much better than I was and that is thanks to the army of PT's I worked with in outpatient rehab.

This by no means is the end of my story, I am now responsible for my own rehab, complacency is unacceptable at this point. I can only go up from here!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Apathy

Apathy -noun, plural ap·a·thies.
1.
absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement.
2.
lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting.
 
yyyeeeyyyeeaahh, that was me the first fe weeks at home.
 
Just coming to the realization that I completewly shut off for that time, I think has helped me to be a more active participant in my life lately. I really was letting it pass me by. I noe understand why Matt was so frustrated with me.
 
I have always been fiercely independent, "let me doit myself!" Is a frequent phrase that falls out of my mouth so the sudden lsck of intrest in doing things for myself, must have been quite a shock on top of all of the thing that were different.
 
But why? You ask? I just couldn't summon the will, energy or confidence to attempt to do things myself, I just assumed I couldn't do anything right, so I didn't try to make bottles for Charlotte, I was hesitant to change her, because I was sure I'd mess it up somehow, but noe that things have become more mnormal, I do as much as I can in a day. Do I make mistakes? Yes, all of the time! But I'm trying, that's what matters. In life the worst thing we can do is give up on anything, on ourselves, I'm glad I learned that lesson before I did give up! So, my advice is to never become complacent, never give up!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

My Easter Thursday

"Disappear Your fear, resurrect your audacity." Is a quote that found it's way to me by way of a free will astrology horoscope. about a year ago. I was at a job that I was not particularly skilled at, sales, so I was having a hard time. I wrote the phrase down on a little piece of paper so I would always remember it, it seemed like a phrase that would come in handy some day, I can't tell you how often I've repeated that phrase to myself since this has happened to me and finally, it happened!. On Thursday, due to a large quantity of caffiene and a good anniversary dinner the night before, I finally came back from the land of the walking brain dead.

When we first came home from the hospital Matt and I had numerous arguments caused mainly by frustration on both our parts because I could barely do anything on my own. Matt would accuse me of no trying, which just upset me because I felt that getting out of bed was giving it my best, now that I've managed to wake up a bit, I've been thinking about that a bit and yesterday I realized Matt was right, damnit, as usual.

I was so depressed and unaware of what was going on around me, I barely tried to pay attention to anything long enough to figure out how to do it on my own, like taking my meds or putting my leg brace on. or getting dressed. I really didn't try, because now that I am trying to be present I can feel the difference and it feels good! I no longer leave giant messes behind me everywhere I go because I make sure I pick up after myself these days, it's not that I didn't care, I did. I  was so depressed I became apathetic, which goes very against my headstrong, independent nature. I am thrilled that I am now attentive enough that I can now lock myself in the bathroom without Matt having to worry about me falling and him not being able to get to me. It's a level of independence that I took for granted. Not only do I feel that my  personality is now normalizing back to what it actually is, I feel I am now acting like a grown up, after doing thing the way a three year old would do them for months, that feels great. do tryluy feel resurrected.

Friday, September 7, 2012

What to Say...

There is an interesting discussion going on on my Face book page, I started it, I admit, I asked my friends if they had any entertaining but ridiculous answers to the"What happened to you?!" Question I am occasionally greeted with by complete strangers when I'm out in public. My current favorite, which I thought up the other day is, " I was running with the bulls and tripped", but I am lacking the appropriate brusing to make that believeable, so, after many hilarious ideas and comments on how rude people are I hve settled on, "Oh, I just had a stroke, that's all." I feel it is important to be honest about what happened to me, because it is nothing to be ashamed of and at least my honest response can lead to further discussion, which only leads to more stroke awareness, because, I knew NOTHING about stroke before I had one and if my talking to some one about the signs of stroke and how it affects you could prevent someone' from becoming disbled because of a stroke, then my job is done.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

To be or not

I've been thinking a lot about acceptance lately, I've been reading a fantastic book:"Don't Leave me this Way Or: When I Get Back on My Feet You'll be sorry."by Julia Fox Garrison. She is hilarious and describes the aftermath of a stroke in ways I could never articulate, so it's great to have a book that I can hand people and say, "Read that part! That's what it's like!"

The only thing I'm having an issue with is her attitude towards her condition. From the sound of it, she was worse off than I was, they told her sh'd never walk again and I continually get words of reassurance that I will bounce back from this...someday. Garrison talks about her determination to be the person she was before the stroke, well, I wish for the same thing, but my question about that is, how can you ever be the same after a life-changing event? Like a medical catastrophe, birth or marriage? She so desperately wants to go back to "normal" she refuses to accept herself as is and kind of looks down on those that acept their post-stroke selves, Like I do, so am I wrong? There is something to be said for stubborn dtermination, but I think I'm healthier and doing better than I was when I was stuck wiahing and longing for Old Liz, because that person still inhabits this broken body. She is also far too concerned with how she looks to other people. Me? I don't give a shit, let them stare, ask and avoid eye contact and smile at me pityingly, I'm doin' my thang, being my bad self and raising a wonderful girl, in a post-stroke body that I will love and care for til the day I die, and I'll love everyday of my post-stroke life and that's a promise!

Mood Swings Much?

Something magical must have happened to me last night; I went to bed after a pretty upsetting conversation with Matt, we were discussing the possibility that I'm as good as I can get and things may just be the way they are till  I die, so I was feeling pretty down in the dumps when I hit the sack. The alarm buzzed me awake this morning and I popped out of bed, like I used to, easy, excited to see what my therapists had in store. I was focused, attentive and efficient this morning while getting my breakfast together, a task that sometimes dissolves into a huge mess due to me not paying attention to what I'm doing. The morning glories Matt planted this year were blooming outside our kitchen window and they were beautiful, at one point I thought to myself, I'm so happy I woke up this morning! I took the puppy out for his morning pee, woke my impossible to wake husband with just enough time left befor we had to leave and showed up at therapy in a pretty damn good mood. I had OT first and I immediately launched into a monologue of immense proportions, regaling my OT, Sue and her intern, Emily, with all of my wisdom I have gained through this experience, then I said something that they loved: :I'm not gonna miss the rest of my life because of this shit."My quote ended up on the white board in the therapy room for motivation! So that just launched me into further, bigger, broader observations and many bad jokes, as an actor, when I have a captive audience, I take advantage of it asnd I was on fire! I had a HUGE dump of adrenaline while this was happening and for a few minutes, I felt restored to my original condition. It felt good! Today I felt great! I am happy to be here with Charlotte and Matt. Then things just got better, while Charlotte and I wer playing on the floor she decided to take one very wobbly step, just for me to see, directly following the step she crumpled to the floor and I dissolved into tears of gratitude, that I got to be here, so even if this is the form I will hold for the rest of my life, I can stil have great days when I feel fabulous and divnely happy, her's to many more days like today!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Gap Toothed motivation

Today as I was walking, attempting to speed my gait up a bit so I can keep up with my long legged, fspeed-walking husband, I started thinking about Charlotte and the possible fallout of all of this. I deeply hope that she  never ever feels like any of this was her fault, which is why I am leaving so much documentation of it, so one day she can read my words and thoughts and know that her prescence in my life at this juncture is essential and the best motivation and has forced me to deal with all of this in a much more adult manner than I'm accostumed to.; Whenever I feel a meltdown coming on, I look over at her beautiful face, see her gap-toothed smile and I think, "how do I want her to see me react to this situation? How would I want her to handle this kind of thing? These thoughts force me to reconsider melting down and if a meltdown is actually warranted, usually I've just dug myself a hole of self-pity to crawl into and that's not productive, I refuse to left her see me like that. I want her mother to be a strong, powerful, joyful woman, who is fun to be around, someday, I hope she reads this and knows she helped me become a better person!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Love Story

About thirteen years ago I went on a job interview that would eventually change my life; I was finishing up my second year in college and I was staying in town for the summer to take a couple of summer classes, so I was looking for a part-time job so I'd have money for food, booze and cigarettes, essentials for a summer in your college town. The summer before I had my first in a long line of coffee shop jobs, at Starbucks, and I loved the work, so I was on the lookout for a barista gig, or a job as a coffee whore, as I called myself back then, equivalent to a beer wench, that was my reasoning. I found an ad in the paper for a local shop looking for help. At the time the woman, Carol, who owned the business owned a shop in Bronson Hospital, so I went to the hospital that would eventually save my life to interview for a job where I would eventually meet my husband. We sat down and chatted for a few minutes, and Carol offered me a job at the end of the interview, she was opening up a new location and wanted me to help with that starting the following week. We were open for a month or two before we started needing more help, once we realized we needed more help, Carol started interviewing. And one day this young boy of 16 came  in with shoulder-length hair that covered his face, Carol interviewed him and hired him. A few days after he had been hired that boy came in with a friend and his sister to buy some drinks, he had cut  his hair and this time I could see his face, and this time it was like a choir of angels sang, he was sooooo cute! We started working together all of the time, and we flirted ruthlessly. I really liked this guy, but I was torn...He was 17, I was almost 21. Was the age difference going to be too large to scale?What would my friends think? Then school started again and my schedule changed, so Matt and Icould noy work together anymore. I missed him and his goofy antic. We started leaving goofy notes for each other on the shop's bullentin board. And one day I had a little surprise in my school email, he had figured out my email adress and sent me a cute little note! After that Resiatance was futile. We made a plan to go out one night, but we missed each other, I was supposed to pick him up at work and I was running late, he had gone outside to wait for me and went behind the building to smoke, so when I pulled up I didn't see him and left. oops! A few months later, Sept. 5th, 1999, we had our first date, we saw The Blair Witch Project, tooled around town and just hung out. He neglected to tell me he had a curfew, so his mother called my house at about 4am fuming mad. A couple months after we got together, due to my own idiocy, we broke up for a couple weeks, we got back together and we were together when I graduated from college. After college was done, I stuck around Kalamazoo for a year. I mainly stayed because I had nowhere to go and because I wasn't ready to leave Matt and for another reason that didn't pan out so well for me. Then my friend Dexter offered me a role in a play he was writing to tour around schools in Connecticut. So, I was off to Ne w Haven, CT!


Mat and I lost touch while I was in CT, I dated another man that I almost married and as that relationship was on it's last legs, Matt rematerialized in my life. I took one email and one phone call for us to reconnect again.I then moved to NYC and Matt and I decided we were going to get married, so he moved to NY to be with me and ten years after our first date we got married! And thank goodness for that. I truly believe fate brought us back together, because without his love and motivation, I couldn't have made it as far as I have

So ther's my longdrawn out love story!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Confidence

I've noticed something: When I become suddenly irrationally afraid of something I've been doing for months without a problem, like the war I had with the stairs a few months back,It is because I suddenly stmble upon a problem when accomplishing the task, and as a result, I lose confidence in myself. I've never been over flowing with confidence, I'm more of a fake it til you make it type girl. So when I suddenley start having some balance issues when climbing the stairs, my confidence falters and I start worse-case scenario-ing, which just makes me more afraid and more shaky and nervous when I'm trying to accomplish whaever it is that's scaring me. The other night I was in the process of not facing a common fear, going into the bathroom, now our bathroom that is upstairs is the one I use at night. The doorway is right at the top of the steps and I have to turn lrft to get into that now turning left is not my forte, so I always end up getting my arm  stuck on the door and because I get freaked out my  left leg muscles get spastic so I can't bend it and I end up fumbling around in the doorway terrified of losing my balance and falling down the stairs, so I turned around back to my bedroom, to put my leg brace back on, I always feel much more secure and stable with my brace on. But I dtopped myself, I said, "You're never going to get over this if you don't at least try, you don't want to have to put yor brace on everytime you go to the bathroom. So I did it, I faced my fear and got into the bathroom with no problem and I hav every night since. I always give myself a little patt on the back after I perform a perfect bsthroom entry and I give myself a little pep talk on my to the bathroom and I tslk myself through the procedure. Si I figue if I can keep believing in myself and facing my fears, there ain't notin' I can't do.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Grow A Pair

You've got to have a big set of balls to recover from a stroke, think about it, your ability to balance is severelry compromised and half of your body does not work. You are also unable to interact with the world in the way you are accustomed. Tasks that used to be easy like Sunday morning are now as challenging, dangerous and scary as climbing Mount Everest

The other day in therapy one of the PTs was working with another patient, I'm not sure if she was stroke patient, but most of the other paitients that are in the gym with me usually are, or they have suffered from a closed head injury. The woman was working on learning how to roll over in bed or practicing getting in and out of bed independently. Sounds pretty simple, right? Nope. She was having a really hard time and was very scared of falling off of the mat table she was working on. I wanted to go over to her and commiserate with her, because I remember how hard it was to roll over in bed and get up out of bed. I wanted to reassure her that her PT would not let her fall, that the more she practiced it would become easier and having trouble with those tasks would be a distant memory.

I have battled my own fears throughout this process, staircases, oddly angled parking lots and other unfamiliar terrain. But I refuse to walk around being scared for the rest of my life and I find facing my fear in those situations is easier than being afraid of whatever I'm worrying about

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Checked Out

After being compared to a zombie this morning I was indignant, overdramatically I stomped into the bathroom and got everything arranged for my shower. As I let the warm eater flow over me, I thought it over a bit and realized that, as usual, Matt was right. It is infuriating to have someone around who knows you well enough to call you out on your bullshit, and to realize that they are right and that was exactly what you needed to hear.So am I zombie-like now? Not all of the time. I do tend to check out and stare into space more than I used to.It is still a large task to pay attention to some one talking to me, it is wxhausting to be a good listener these days. As a protective measure, I have a tendency to go into a power save mode, my eyes glaze over and I'm only half-listening to who ever is addressing me. As I was coming to this realization in the shower, I realized my cognition will never return to it's originalhigh speed mode if I keep that up. So today I resolved to stay present in every moment, no matter how tired I am

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays

I recently started reading a new book, that's gotten me thinking a lot about my experiences in rehab, so the next few posts are going to be retrospectives. Since I was completely incapable of blogging at the time, I tried once, but it was far too exhausting.

As we all know, hospital food leaves much to be desired, tastewise and health-wise. In an effort to bring me some much needed joy my co-workers devised a weekly lunch schedule, every Monday Wednesday and Friday, my co-workers would bring me some lunch for the co-op. These days quickly became my favorite days of the week, I was so excited to see who was going to visit me, they had a rotating schedule, so a different co-worker would come everytime and I was always pumped to see what kind of tastefull and healthy tidbit they would bring. One day that I was expecting my co-op lunch stands out to me in particular, I was having a terrible day, my mood was probably the lowest it had been since the stroke and I was very busy that day playing the Why Me? game. that day they brought me a Reed's Extra Ginger Ginger Beer, my favorite beverage we offer, I drank a large quantity of these during my pregnancy to ward off the inevitable sick tummy. The first sip I took, brought tears to my eyes. I was suddenly overtaken by  an intesnse nostalgia, that taste was a taste from a different time, a better time, a taste from home and every taste from the c-op was a comforting reminder that there were people who were thinking of me and pulling for me and every bite solidified my resolve to get bwtter so I could return. Luckily, my fellow manager, Randall, made a cookie got tossed into my bag, cookies are an obsession of mine, the food I assumed in vast quantities as I was incubating my baby girl.
So, thanks, co-op peeps! You have no idea how much your visits helped me!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dancing Queen

There is a video on my Facebook page from my wedding that brings tears to my eyes, primarily from laughing, my sister-In Law posted it, it is video of my extremely drunk Brother-In Law dancing to Crazy by Britteny Spears, I am in the background along with many of my friends. I watch this video frequently because it is so funny, it always puts me in a good mood. The last ime I watched it I almost cried, it was hard to watch myself dance around so easily, filled with so much ecstatic happiness. At one point I said to myself, I don't know if I'll ever be able to dance like that again,in fact, I wasn't sure I would ever be that happy again, well I snapped out of that miserable line of thought as I watched Charlotte steal her ball back from our new puppy and roll it to him, there are so many moments during the day when I experience that ecstatic joy, I just need to recognize the moments when I feel it, rather than focusing on the past and what ws. Because if I do that, I may never allow myself to feel that level of joy, and I firmly believe that I have many more moments of uber-happiness to experience in my life.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Out and About

I am a very social person, so when I'm presented with an opportunity to leave the house, I usually take it. Due to my very pronounced limp and slow gate and the fact that Larry sits in an arm sling, wearing a wrist brace, I'm sure I look like I've been in some kind of horrific accident, so it's not uncommon that people ask me what happened. When this occurs the first thought that shoots through my head is, "Wow, you've got some balls asking a complete stranger a question like that and I also wish I had some wicked cool story to tell them like, I was base jumping in New Zealand and my chute didn't open, because the truth isn't nearly as cool as that. I always tell them the truth, because I have nothing to be ashamed of and I think being out and about as a stroke survivor is important, hopefully when people see me navigating the world as a stroke survivor, it can help to dispell any preconceptions they may haveof stroke survivors. I think it is very important for me to be open and honest about what has happened, because it isn't something that should be hidden, it is something that should be talked about. I knew nothing about stroke and it's effects, up til recently and if I can help raise awareness about it and how to spot it by talking about it, then my job is done!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

inspirational?

It's a very humbling experience when a close friend sits down, looks you in the eyes and in all seriousness tells you that you are inspiring.

Of all of the tings I've daydreamed of being, rock star, broadway actress, movie star, inspiring was never something I anticipated becoming. I've been called inspiring since the stroke hit, but this was the first time I was told why. My friend told me that when she's having a bad day she thinks about me and how hard everything must be for me and she tells herself, "If Liz can do it, so can I." Hearing that sent my heart soaring, if I can help someone get through a hard day or help someone have gratitude for what they have, that is great! Because, even though things are a tad harder for me now, as far as I see it, I don't have a choice of what to do because the choice is life or giving up. I would love it if I could inspire someone to keep trying, to never give up, being inspiring is wonderful, but I crave to take this experience and use it to help people., giving up was never an option, nor should it ever be! So who ever you are, wherever you may be, I'm telling you now that you can do it! Never give up!I believe in you!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Affirimation

I've recenrly begun a new kind of therapy, poitive affirmations. Lately I've heard from multiple sources that positive affirations can heal afflictions and can rewire the brain, when I start getting bombarded with messages like this all of the time, I tend to listen, there must be a reason I am constantly getting the same mrssage, right? My friend, Sheila began the process by giving me homework: Say these positive affirmations everyday, out loud: "Iam alive, I am whole, I am at peace." and I've added, "My arm will wotk again". I repeat this over and over to  myself on my daily condtitutionals around my backyard, weaving a kind of spell with my words and movements. What I discovered in my dabblings in Wicca during college is that a spell is simply a prayer with concrete motions added, to focus your energy and will towards changing your environment the way you want. So as I speak these words I makes sure I listen to them and use them to fight through any difficulties I face along the way, my will to get around the yard three times pushes these words towards changing my circumstances and I truly feel that since I started this practice that I have set something bigger than me in motion. So as Sheila said: Words can make a big difference. the right words!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Walk.

There are moments in my life when I am breifly struck by how far I've come on my journey. Like the other day, getting into our car to go to therapy, I stopped and reflcted on how diffucult it was to bend my knee enough to swing it into the car when I first got home. And how hard and scary it seemed when my PT, Carrie on three West had me practice in the car they had set up for that purpose, now I get in and out of cars, even giant pick-up trucks, no problem.

And yesterday as I was walking around the backyard, I am now doing three laps, I was thinking about how hard, tiring and scary the walk was. I started by walking across the yard and around the circumference, it was sorter and more level ground. I had a hard time walking around the edge on my way bck to the door without holding onto the fence. Then I started challenging my self by trying a hill or two, or taking a longer route or not touching the fence for support.And now I am doing three laps in thirty minutes! And I'm walking in and out of places in the real world without my cane. I realized yesterday that I've been so focused on getting to a certain point in my recovery that I've become blind to how far I've come, so now I am working on enjoying the journey of recovery rather than only looking at the destinsination.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Yogurt Incident

I had a little incident this morning that I think provides a good example of hoe my brain is operating these days and the kind of things I deal with on a daily basis,l so I thought I'd share:

I like to have yogurt with granola and a little honey for breakfast, so this morning I went to the fridge and got the tub of yogurt out but it was almost empty. Now I remembered opening a new tub yesterday so I thought to myself, "this can't possibly be the tub I opened yesterday, it must be in the fridge still." So I opened the frisge and looked for the other tub, but did not see it right away so I shrugged my shoulders and thought something must have happed to that other tub and I decided to go ahead and scrape what was left in the one I had started with even though I knew that tub I opened yesterday must still be somewhere. Then Matt pointed out that I should probably have looked a little harder for the new tub and sure enough there it was, in the door of the fridge, on my left side. I sighed, frustrated with myself, I should know by now that if I can't find something that I should check what is to my left. So i wound up feeling a little dumb and realizing  needed to slow down and think things through a little more so things like that wouldn't happen as often