Friday, August 31, 2012


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


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


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

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Throwing in the towel

My Mom sent me an email a few days ago, it was basically an email telling me that she likes the blog and telling me how proud of me she is, at one point she made a statement that baffeled me:"A lot of people would have given up by now." And I immediately thought, "but why? Do these people want to miss everything? zDo they want to sit on the couch alone for the rest of their lives? " It never occured to me that I could choose to not try to get better. Today we spoke on the phone and she kind of cleared up the state ment by saying that some people choose to give up on themselves and by doing so they choose to live their lives as invalids, but I have choosen not to live that way, my daughter deserves more from me than a sick, sad, bitter and angry woman, so I'm glad this is the path I have vchoosen and I'm going to keep fighting the good fight for that little girl!

The Sun Did Come Out

Well, I guess Annie is right, the sun rose today and after a good night's sleep and an emergency teary-eyed phone call to my friend last night, I feel a little less in a funk than I did. This morning I decided that no matter what happens with my therapy , my life must go on. I will keep doing my exercisesevery day and I will continue doing my three laps around the back yard until I have a better place to walk because I don't want to give up, I want to be a part of life while I still have air in my lungs. I don't want to miss out on my life because one of my arms doesn't work so well and just because I don't have professional therapists helping me, that's not going to stop me from trying to be the best me I can be

Monday, August 13, 2012

And Again

Tonight, I'm a little embarrased because I decided to throw a little pity party for myself at work.

I don't know what came over me or what my deal is lately, it seems like all of the positive progress I've made lately in accepting my circumstances have dissolved. This morning at therapy I had a conversation with one of my PTs regarding the future of my therapy. Basically, they don't seem to think that my insurance will approve many more visits, plus it seems that the staff at the facility feel that it may be time to let me go, I'm not making quite as much progress as I was in the beginning, so, now I feel like I'm letting a lot of peopl down, myself, my therapists, Matt, Charlotte, etc... So at work I let the fact that I didn't know the answer to a question and the fact that I feel very akward talking to people get to me, I ended up calling myself retarded and generally bemoaning my existence to my co-worker, now I feel silly because who wants to be around that girl? no one.

I'm just ready for all of this to start feeling normal, I'm ready to feel comfortable in my skin again.So I better get down to business in accepting myself for who I am then, right?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

oops, I Did It Again!

I fear my last post came off as bitter and resentful and if there are two things I don't want to become, they are bitter and resentful. To be Frank, I've been experiwncing some new feelings lately, jealousy mostly, but be assured, I do my best to quash any jealous thoughts that manage to weasel their way into my head because being jealous of someone else's life is a waste of my time and energy, plus, who's to say that some has it better than me just because yhey have two working arms? They may not, because what it comes down to is that my life is great So sorry, ya'll, I had a moment of weakness

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Since this whole thing has happened I have tried very hard to resist the urge to be envious of others, last night I lost that battle, every so often I see pictures on that magical website we all love, Facebook of a new mom resting comfortably, happily glowing with her new baby and that demon named Envy starts growling from deep within me. I think about new moms and, of course I am happy for them, but there is a part of me that always thinks, "I hope they know how lucky they are as they carry their babies in their two arms and I hope they never take a single hug for granted. I am still angry that I was robbed of all of the things that I wanted to do as a new mom and, unfortunately I have hard time not being jealous of others who have the priveledge of caring for their newborns. This morning at breakfast I was bemoaning my fate and Matt swooped with the save:"Some women die having their babies, some babies die while they are being born, you're lucky that neither of those things happened, so stop feeling sorry for yourself." Duly noted. As I was sitting on the floor, watching Charlotte examine her toys I felt so lucky that I get to observe her as she learns about the world, and I can only hopr that every other parent in thr world feels as lucky as I do when they spend time with their kids.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Dead Ringer

Yesterday I took the next step in my quest to return to work as fully as possible, I was retrained on the cash registers. This was an odd occurance since I was usually the one doing the training, but I certainly needed the refresher and the oversight of the Front End Manger(FEM to help me see the things I might potentially have missed. The thing I realized yesterday is how much a cashier has to think about, rigning customers up was so natural by the time I had to leave work, I barely had to think about it, but after a few hiccups yesterday, I realized that working on the registers is an excellent workout for my cognition. I felt a little dumb when I would forget or overlook something I never would have before as the FEMwatched,an employee that I trained many months ago, but her paitence never made me feel stupid, in fact she was ecstatic to have me back behind the registers, as was I. By the end of the shift I was really getting back into the groove, I felt purposefull and usefull, something I haven't felt in nine months. I was exhausted when I got home from focusing so hard and I determined last night to become a rock star cashier once again.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Attitude Adjustment

I was in a serious funk yesterday, for whatever reason I was super irritated during therapy and therefore fore did not put as much into it as I could have. I hate it when I allow my pissy moods to waylay my therapy time, since I don't have much left. Yesterday my good friend, Sheila came to visit me this was the first time we've seen each other since the stroke, but she had a big hand in finding me the support and motivation I neededdesperately, so I was thrilled to get a chance to sit with her and let her see the fruits of her efforts, all of the cards I received. On a day like I had yesterday, it was absolutelynecessary to have her there, as she has always been a calming and comforting influence, I needed her energy with me. Talking to her also reminded me how lucky I am, that despite all of this I still have a perfect little baby and a loving, caring husband, so, last night before I went to bed I recommitted myself to being grateful and excited about everyday and it paid off. I got up ready to work my butt off in therapy and excited to see what they had in store for me, and, let me tell you it was a damn good session! Today I was working with Courteny, I work with different PTs almost everytime, each has their own style and each pushes me in different ways, Courteny is one of the tougher PTs, she knows what I'm capable of, more so than I do, so she works at getting as lmuchout of me, plus she's creative! So I'm never doing the same things with her, so it's always exciting to see what she has planned. My therapy is done at a local fitness center, so Courteny took me up into the room where all of the exercise machines are, she put me on a glider type thing that I could hold myself up on, and I could use my left leg, it was the first actual exercise I've been able to do since the stroke and it felt so good! She showed that there are ways that I can get exercise. I felt energized after my five minutes on the glider, next, we went into a seperate room and she had me stand one foot in front of the other on top of a styrofoam cylinder that had been cut in half. I started by holding on to some thing to balance myself, now I know this probably doesn't sound too challenging, but, when the blood clot formed on the front right side of my brain it pushed my brain over, shifting my midline over to the side-Most stroke survivors have issues with balance, but this midline shift makes my balance issues doubled, infact, rwhile I was in the ICU I couldn't even look people straight in the eyesa or sit up straight, one of my earliest memories of rehab is, one of my PTs sitting me down on a mat table and asking me to siy up straight and I totally felt like I was straight up and down like an arrow, but then she slid a mirror in front of me and I was leaning way to the right!Wow, freaky.- So this particular exercise really challenged me, then I thought I'd go a bit further with it and let go of wht I was holding onto and there I stood, not holding onto anything, balancing myself! I even did a little squat there, just to show off! When I got home I was flying high, I am now convinced I amcapable of anything!