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.


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


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


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 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


"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.