Sunday, September 30, 2012


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


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


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


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 -noun, plural ap·a·thies.
absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement.
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!