Tuesday, December 10, 2013


When all of this began, I was shocked. When I walked into the hospital that cold, rainy November morning, I thought I was going to be happily holding and breastfeeding my new baby girl that night. Well...the universe had other plans for us that day. Do any of us end up being the parents we thought we were going to be, really?

As I would sit in my rehab room, I would stare at the whiteboard with my therapy schedule, just fuming about what had occurred, trying to make sense out of this incredibly confusing situation. "All I wanted was to be a Mom."I would whine to Matt, sitting on his lap. In those early days, I was convinced I would never be able to truly be a mother to my beautiful baby girl. I felt totally incapable of caring for her, both physically and cognitively.

But...As every new parent does, I learned. As each day passed, my head became clearer, my body became stronger and my confidence increased, I began to understand and know what this little stranger needed from me moment to moment.

And now..everyday I spend with her, I feel our bond deepen, this person who I feared would be embarrassed of my disability, I am now convinced will always defend me to the teeth, because of what I willingly sacrificed for her( I think an arm is a fair trade off for a healthy baby, don't you?) And what I have overcome on my journey to motherhood.

My only hope is that I can be a stong influence for her, an example that giving up is never an option, that there is always hope as long as you have love in your heart. And now, suddenly, this stroke survivor who feared her chance at motherhood had been whisked away has found herself to be capable, present and excellent mom.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Us New Age-y types talk a lot about reincarnation, or, the idea that a person's soul has lived many lives since it was created and how that affects our current incarnation.

But, if you think of it, every person experiences many incarnations in their life; Every significant life event changes us and our outlook. For me, ,y senior year in High school was very significant, scoring the lead in the musical was a huge ego boost and introduced me to a more self-assured, confident, outspoken and opinionated version than I had known before, this is the incarnation that would continue to develop through mycollege and my post-college years.

The stroke and the recovery has introduced me to a different version of myself, one that had been covered up by that, loud, boisterous and outspoken lady

Liz 2.0, as I call her, is not as self-assured, in fact, she, quite, often has to convince herself that she can do something and she has to talk herself out of  the pity parties she seems to like to throw for herself, for whatever reason....But, through all of this, because this version of myself requires so much reassurance from myself, she is turning into a stronger version of the me I was, better able to face things I am unsure about, able to talk myself out of despair, I've become a cheerleader for myself, and that, my friends, is a valuable talent. I am now more capable of picking myself up after a hard day full of mistakes, brushing myself off, holding my head hig and giving it the ole college try tomorrow.

Because, I have learned, what really counts when recovering from stroke is finding a new way to live life and to be happy with it, which means finding new, innovative ways to do things, luckily for us there are many oways to fall inlove with yourself again after a traumatic brain injury, one way I would suggest is to  find an organization like this.

So, dare I say, Liz 2.0 holds her head a little higher that Old Liz did.

I like Li 2.0....finally.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Today I met with a good friend, who has been helping me navigate my new world as a "disabled" person, helping me understand and know the services that are available to me.

I say "disabled" because, as far as the government is concerned I am disabled, but, as far as I am concerned, I perfectly able of many things..

My reason for meeting with her was to find out if there was a way I could help other people recovering from brain injuries, at one point she asked me why I wanted to do this. I couldn't answer right away.

Well, tonight as I swept my kitchen floor, I do my best thinking when I'm sweeping, I thought about this, and I realised that at the beginning of all of this, it would have been great to meet with someone who was well into their recovery and doing well, some one who could have told me, "Hey! Snap out of it! This is not the worst thing that could have happened." Would I have listened? No. But it sure would have been nice to have some one who understood the total and complete confusion and exhaustion I felt everyday. And now that I am well into my recovery, I think the right thing to do is to use what has happened to me for good, to benefit others, because, well, it's right, right?

I also see so many people at my OT clinic that seem so hopeless. and let me tell you, hopelessness is a surefire way to sabotage your recovery, so, I try to talk to these people, trying to show them as much positivity as I can muster in the face of their depression, because, I was there. Two years ago, the thought of living my life as I've become accustomed to living it- as a one handed, slow walking- individual, was a terrifying thought, but now it's my normal, and I'
, ok with it, if I can show one person that I'm ok with who I am in the face of this, then, I will have done something good.

And that, my friends is progress.

Monday, November 11, 2013


Since I was released from the hospital, a little over two years ago, I've been struggling with my confidence. Facing the world with a new body and mind has been a difficult task, and I've had to figure out this motherhood thing on top of that.

My already fragile confidence was shattered by the stroke, suddenly all of these things I used to be able to just fine ( read, go to the bathroom, walk, etc..) suddenly became seemingly impossible, so whenever I've been faced with something new in this post-stroke world, my instant reaction has been, "I can't do that."

But as I move through my life in this new body and with this new mind I've found, yes, indeed, I can.

The turning point finally came once I accepted the fact that I am basically having to start over, relearn everything I already knew how to do. I like to say that the stroke was like having my reset button hit. And as I move forward, relearning all of these things I could do with my eyes closed, I am finding that I can, in fact, do anything, I put my mind to.

can't is now a four letter word in my world, because, you know what? I can. And so can you.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

2 Years!

Two years ago yesterday, I walked into the hospital knowing a few things; First of all I knew I'd be holding my new, precious baby girl at the end of the night, second, I knew my life would never be the same again.

Well, I was right....kinda, on the first count, I was holding my new baby at the end of the day, but in a radically different way, my loving, and scared shitless husband had lovingly placed Charlotte on my chest to rest as I woke up from having the blood clot removed from my brain, giving us some precious bonding time.

Two years ago, I thought I knew everything, I thought I had it all figured out...nope. Today I know more about myself, life, love and what really , matters than I think I ever would have. Two years ago, the doctors were saying I'd make a "full" recovery in about a year and a half  whatever that means, well, today, I am recovered, more determined and focused than ever

Yesterday, I watched that precious baby, that I held, unconsciously, on my chest two years ago turn two, she is alsi determined and focused, and trhe best thing that's ever happened to me.

And yesterday, I realized I could have easily not been around to see this momentous birthday. But I did, with my eyes wide open, seeing the world for the beautiful place that it is.

Two years ago, I didn't realize how great life can be. Now I do.

Monday, September 30, 2013

working 9-5

A little over two years ago I saw a job listing in the classifieds for a Front End Manager at The People's Food C-op of Kalamazoo, I went to it's website as the listing requested, read the job description a about the co-op and decided, this job was pretty much made for me, so, I filled an application out, took it to this teeny tiny store downtown Kalamazoo and hoped for the best. After a couple of weeks, I got a call from the general manager of the co-op, hoping to give me a phone interview, at the time my schedule was pretty crazy, between the job I had and a play I was rehearsing, so the GM, Chris, and I played phone tag for quite a few days, finally we got on the phone with each other and I participated in the most pleasant interview I've ever had, at the end of it, Chris invited me to come in for a face to face panel interview with the entire management staff at the co-op. I was ecstatic.

The job I had at the time was VERRRRRY part-time and not fulfilling in the least and this co-op job seemed like a job I could really care about and sink my teeth into.

Finally the day came for my interview, I walked into the co-op's small store front, was greeted by an extremely friendly cashier, who let Chris know that I was there, I was informed that I would have to wait for a bit, so, I read some of the information that was out about the co-op, I was intrigued, I had never been inside a co-op and I, like most of the general public, thought it was some kind of hippie place, but as I read more information, I became more convinced that this job was mine and psyched myself up for this interview, I interview REALLY well, and I know it.

Finally Chris retrieved me and told me we would be descending into the basement for the interview, as we walked down the set of seemingly ancient, creaky stairs, into the dark, cave-like basement,I smelled the mix of all the herbs that were stored there in "herbland", as we called it, I made myway to the sitting area and sat down to begin the most important and life-changing job interview of my life.

I sat down with the entire management staff, I was nervous, they were studying me, asking me a very complex set of questions, and I couldn't tell if I was impressing anyone, I wasn't even sure how best to answer the questions I was being asked, I was reaching for answers.

At the end of my one hour interview, I felt a little shell shocked, but I was even more convinced that I HAD to get this job, the co-op was expanding and they need a Front End Manager to help them do that, a prospect that thrilled me, as I had helped open many a coffee shop in my day and I loved the chaos of that kind of work. I walked out to the van I was driving at the time, I had gotten a parking ticket. I wasn't sure if this was a bad sign or not, because usually after an interview I could tell whether I had the job or not, this time, I wasn't so sure. A few days later I got a call from the co-op, asking me to come in for a working interview. Aworking interview? I'd never had a working interview before, what's that all about? I arrived for my working interview and was greeted by Rosie, the Produce Manager and interim Front End Manager, she would be conducting the working interview, Rosie gave me a little tour of the store, and set me to work, washing dust off of the shelves, this was a challenge, as the co-op was in a very small space and I had to ensure I didn't get in any customers' way as I cleaned. Once I completed the task, Rosie had me start ringing customers up, a job I excelled at, as customerservice is my forte. Once the interview was over, I went home, feeling triumphant. it had goone well, I thought...maybe. What a process to go through to get a job, but I felt decure with their system, I was sure it ensured that they found the right people.

Finally I got The Call, Chris called to offer me the position as Front End Manager! I was beside myself! A real job! At a super cool place!

The first few months of my employment at the co-op wer rocky, I really wanted to do well and uphold the standards and systems the co-op had in place, while helping the Management team plan the impending expansion pro ject.

Then I got pregnant.

I found out I was pregnant in March of 2011 and the expanded co-op was set to open in May of 2011, so by the time the baby came we would have been in the new space for a few months and settled in pretty well, it seemed that the timing was perfect.

As the expansion dates came closer my job expanded along with my waistline, as the human Resources Coordinator and hiring Manager, I was constantly interviewing and training new employees, a job I loved. It seemed the closer we got to the expansion, the better I got at my job, nrever before had I loved a job as much as I loved mine, I looked forward to going to workaverday, a rare luxury I had never experienced before, my jop had a purpose and did somwthing great for my community.

The expansion went off without a hitch. The first few days in the new space were hectic to say the least, but satidfying, it was great to work with such a great team.

Then my blood pressure spiked.

Things started getting complicated when I became hypertensive halfway through my pregnancy, and the co-op supported me and helped me through all of it, they were always flexible whever I was told by a doctor that I couldn't wor for an extended span of time, even I pretty much had to be at work all of the time, luckily, I had an extremely capavle Lead Cashier to be me when I wasn't there.

Then I had a stroke....and a baby.

I can't think of any other jov I've had that would have supported me after my stroke the way the co-op has, Rosie came to the hospital on the night of the stroke, because I asked for her. The co-op set up a system for bringing me lunches while I was in rehab ondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. My Lead Cashier took over running the Front End during the busiest time of year(Thanksgiving) and the transition, by all accounts I've heard, was seamless. The co-op has also allowed me to come back and work, something that has been pricekess to me, working not only increases my stamina, my cogitive ability and my confidence. Even though I was unable to step back into my role asFront End Manager, many of the people I hired are still there and have moved up in the ranks, which makes me proud.

I counmyself lucky to live in a town with such a great co-op and to have a job as supportive and helpful as I do. We all should be so lucky.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Change of Vocation: Revised

So, I didn't really make the point I was trying to make in my last post, I was feeling a little scattered and wasn't taking my time with it and that's what happens.

So I'm going to give it another go:

Mat and I recently bought a house, to say that it needs a lot of work is an understatement, so we are rushing to make the place livable as soon as possible, so we're not paying for a house we're not living in. This means that Matt leaves Charlotte and I to our own devices during the day to go work on it and comes home around dinnertime. So, I handle everything, on my own, all day long.

In my dark days in rehab, as I sat in my bed staring at the clock, dreading my next exhausting therapy session, I would sit and ruminate about how cruel the world is, that I wasn't going to have a chance to be the mother I wanted to be. If you had told me then that I'd be home alone with Charlotte all day long, making breakfast, lunch, playing outside,giving naps and even doing mini craft projects with her, I would have laughed at you. A few months ago, I don't think Matt would have even felt comfortable leaving me alone with Charlotte, so, I think the fact that this is happening says a lot about the progress I've made. It feels so good to take care of my baby the way I want to and every moment we spend together, deepens the bond we have, a bond I thought we'd never had.; I know what she's saying when no one else does, I know when she's tired or hungry when no one else is sure about why she's being fussy, just like a real mom. Everyday, I go to bed proud of the parenting I did that day, smiling at the hugs and smiles I recieved.

All of these things are things I did not think I would ever have the ability to do.

For the sake of full disclosure, I've had to beat down some very serious anxiety over being left alone, most of it totally ridiculous, at first, I was scared to death that something would happen to me or Charlotte and what would I do then? Or there's the totally ridiculous fear that Matt wouldn't come home and I'd have to sleep here alone. But I have managed to talk myself out of these totally silly fears, and have calmed down quite a bit, also something I am massively proud of.

So, there, THAT is all I wanted to say, I can take care of Charlotte by myself now! Woot!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Change of Vocation

Iam a Stay At Home Mom. Now, I say that emphatically because.....NEVER EVER in my life have I desired this job, or thought for a second that it would be a job I would hold, but here I am, dpoing the job I never ever thought I would have and trying to do it well.

I've been struggling with accepting my reality lately. Before the stroke, Or BS as I've come to refer to it, I was working about 45 hours a week, and planning on continuing to do so after a 5 week maternity leave, so staying at home all day every day, has been a little difficult to do. I am what you would call a social butterfy, I rnjoy getting out of the house and hangin' with my homies, but due to a couple of siezures (totally normal post-stroke, don't panic) I can't drive, so, I'm esentially stranded, unless some kind soul wants to pick my ass up, and I find myself not wanting to be that friend who begs for rides everywhere, this feeling of being trapped has been closing in on meem until a few days ago.

I don't know what changed, but Matt and I were having a duscussion during which I said something along the lines of, " I have a lot og life left to live and I intend to live it wee abd enjoy it!" Thenm it hit me, I wasn't enjoying it, I was bemoaning it. The nextday as Charlotte and I ent about our daily routine, I found myself enjoying myself, just being at home, with her, just us. I make her breakfast and lunch I clean up those dished, I am potty training, I am doing all of these things that I was scared to death I wasn't going to be able to do and lately, I go to bed exhausted and satisfied at a job well done.

So now, this job I never asked for is growing on me and I'm finding that my house is not so confining, because , you never know what's going to happen in a day, or what new cool thing Charlotte's going to do, that I wouldn't want to miss.

Here's to the Stay At Home Mom! It's not an easy job, but it's an important one!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


As Charlotte and I sat in the early evening sun, last Sunday, on a picnic table, outside the root beer stand, the song "Turn, Turn, Turn" started playing, as I was helping her finish off the last sip of her first root beer float, something happened and I started to cry. Maybe it was the exhaustion in Charlotte's eyes from a busy day at the beach, maybe it was the layers of dirt on her, telling the story of her day,like sediment tells the history of our world, sunscreen, sand, ice cream, strawberries and root beer, or maybe it was her pink skin from her day of playing in the sand and surf on the shore of Lake Michigan, but I started crying out of pure happiness and thankfulness.

When this journey began, I never thought a day like I had Sunday would be possible, but there I was tending to the daughter I was afraid I wouldn't bond to, helping her drink her root beer and sharing  my chocolate/vanilla twist cone with her, smiling and enjoying, simply other's company after a great day at the beach.

In that moment as I dabbed my eyes with a napkin, while Charlotte tried to lick the last of her root beer off of her straw, and my twisty cone melted on the table where I had set it, I wasn't a stroke survivor, I wasn't Old Liz or Liz 2.0, I was just Charlotte's mom, which is all I ever wanted to be.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Break on Through

"Something has changed within me Something is not the sameI'm through with playing by the rulesOf someone else's game"

Yeah, that's about where I'm at right now. In the last week, something has shifted and inner peace has settled in.

For the first time since my brain sprung a leak, I feel comfortable in my skin and confodent in my abilities. Why? I'm not sure, I think it's a mixture of a lot of things, I've been getting up with Charlotte every morning for the last couple of weeks, getting her dressed, feeding her breakfast and playing with her after breakfast, then we do lunch, then we play outside for a bit til naptime. So, I think I'm starting to feel like a mom, and a good one, at that, my bond with Charlotte has been getting depper because of all of this, so my self-doubt as far as whether I can care for her or not has faded and I no longer doubt the fact that she does, in fact, like me.I also think letting go of all of the hate I've had towards my ex in New Haven, has healed my soul, it feels better to acknowledge the love I felt for him, rather than wasting all of that energy hatin ghim.

Lately, I feel like a zen master, in love with everything around me, excited to be awake in the morning, I feel like I'm going to jump out of my skin from happiness most of the time.

Life is now as it should be, normal, routine and happy, so, I've achieved the goal I had at the beginning of all of this: "I just want to be normal again."

Monday, June 10, 2013


"I just want to be normal again."

This was a phrase anyone who came to visit me in rehab would hear come from my mouth.

During those early days, I wanted so desperetly to be restored to my former glory, that the entire goal of recovery was to be myself again.

So here's the real question: What is recovery? Is it my arm and my leg working normally again?

Well, no. It's not, because, I still walk pretty slow, with a very noticeable limp and I use a brace on my leg and my toes and ankle don't move yet, but I manage to get around just fine, in fact, my gait has become smoother and faster in the last few months, thanks to a fancy new leg brace and tons of walking practice, so, I think I'm just fine with the use I have in my leg, and as far as I'm concerned, considering the fact that I had no idea what to expect as far as walking again when all of this started, where I'm at is pretty damn good, I've gone to museums, large stores and walked on my own with no problems, so, I guess that's recovered as far as the leg is concerned. I still have faith that, with time, the ankle and toes will join the land of the living again someday.

And then there's Larry.....Oh Larry.Are there days when I deperatly want to use my hand? Yes. But, it's not the center of my world. There are large groups of people in my life who believe that recovery is getting my hand back, and I'm not a part of that group.So, what is recovery?I wanted to be normal again. And I beilieve I am more normal now than I ever was. I have a deeper understanding of myself and a greater accptance of myself and my life than I had pre-stroke. I love myself now. My life no longer hinges on whether I can use my arm or not.

As far as I'm concerned I am recovered, because I accept and love my life rgardless of my limitations. I no longer take anything for granted, nor do I overlook the wonderful things the people who love me do for me. I can live my life singlehanded and be happy, at the beginning of this process the idea that I might never use my hand again was terrifying, but now? I really don't care, my arm gets stronger and I gain more control over it everyday. if it stays the way it is now, which I don't think will happen. That's just fine, I've learned to live like this and I'm living quite well, thank you.
So, is my journey over? No, I think it will only get better, but I intend to move forward and face whatever challenges life throws at me head on, because I know I can take it.

Recovery complete.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Here and Now

Yesterday as Sara was driving Charlotte and I home from the park, she said something that changed everything in my world.

As we were driving, her girls were planning out what they would eat for lunch, focusing very hard on the many food choices they had waiting for them when they got home. At one point Sara said,"Girls, I want you to stop and take a moment, breathe and take in this moment, because what just happened and what is going to happen doesn't exsist, this moment is now and we only get this moment once." I may be paraphrasing, but I did exactly as she asked and that statement stuck with me for the rest of the day

I've been experiencing some intersting feelings lately that have been a little disconcerting. Lately. the energy that has surrounded me has felt very similar to the energy that swirled around me durimg my first summer in Connecticut, when I was starting to date and fall in love with my boyfriend there.

I was assuming I was feeling that way because I am facing my first summer since the stroke where I feel physically capable of enjoying it, the excitement of that, I assumed was mimicking the excitement of new love, I also assumed that I was supposed to be feeling that way for whatever reason, maybe it was my body and spirit's way of making peace with my past, so I've just been living in it and feeling the full strength of it, even though it was pulling me out of my present.

As I sat with Charlotte yesterday afternoon, I turned what Sara had said over and over in my head, yes, the past doesn't exsist anymore and yes now is the only now I get. But the past does exsist, it exsists in my heart, spirit, mind and soul and I may never experience that present again, but I got to once and I can always remember my perfect summer of love where I loved my new man so fiercely where my adoration for another person was as bottomless as it ever had been when I learned to love the new town I had choosen as my home.

And even though that relationship ended very badly, as many fast and passionate love affairs do, thank goodness I have that experience written into my spiritual DNA, I'm lucky to know what ecstatic, endless love like that feels like, and because I know what it is, I can show Charlotte that love, because it is the same kind of deep limitless love I feel for her.

And as I ended that train of thought, I made peace with New Haven, Connecticut and all that happened there to change me,  I let it go and looked at the moment I was in and loved it, because, someday I will want to remember the simplicity of watching my 19-month-old spin in the middle of the living room, to remember the depth of love I felt for her in that moment, after a successful day at the park together, to remember the deep satisfaction of a job well done, caring for the child that 19 monthss ago I never thought I'd be able to care for effectively.

Since then I've felt, dare I say it? Zen. Happy. Peacful. So, here's my advice, stop. Breathe and notice the moment. You'll never get it again and you'll never want to forget it.

Friday, June 7, 2013


You know how I've wrestled with not feeling like much of a mother because of my physical limitations and because I wasn't able to be very involved at the beginning of Charlotte's life?

Well, something magical happened this morning. My friend from the co-op have a little playgroup that meets Friday mornings at a nearby playground, this morning my friend Sara picked Charlotte and I up, so we could play.

I got Charlotte up, fed and dressed with time to spare before Sara arrived, in fact, I have been getting Charlotte up all week this week, I'm trying to give Matt a break since he has pretty much been the only one of us whos been doing that from the beginning.

We went to the playgroud, it was packed, I was fearful, worried that I would lose track of Charlotte because it's hard for me to keep up with her, luckily, Sara had her  daughters, Hannah and Mary with her, both of whom love Charlotte and helped me watch her.

I sat on a bench and watched as Mary took Charlotte to the swings, I joined them, helping Mary push Charlotte who sqealed delightedly as she flew through the air.

Out little group then took a little break on top of a large hill, I walked Charlotte over there, at the bottom of the hill, I had a moment of doubt, would I be able to get up the steep incline to the top? That thought only exsisted for a moment, as I don't allow self-doubt like that to exsist in my brain for long before pushing it back, replacing it with reassurances of success, Hannah took Charlotte to the top for me and I began my climb, I got top the top without incident and wished I had a stadium sized crowd cheering for me, as that what was going on in my head, at that moment, the sun came out from behind the clouds it had been hiding behind, I sat down with my friends, enjoying the sunshine and the company and shared some grapes and water with my child snd friends. Once our snack break concluded, we returned to the playground, I followe Charlotte as she inspected the play structure, climbiong the steps and sliding down the slide, I made sure she stayed safe as she played. By the time it was time to leave I was feeling more like a mom than I have since Charlotte's birth, she and I don't go many places just the two of us, so it was wonderful to spend time somewhere just us girls anf wonderful to know that I am, infact, fully capable of taking care of my child on my own, with some help, it takes a village after all!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sometimes the Worst Thing is the Best Thing

During one of the many dicussions I had with customers about my stroke on Monday as customer said this to me:
"I want to ask you a hard question." He said sheepishly, this is a regular customer, one who came to visit me while I was in rehab.
"Ok."I replied, "Sometimes those are the best ones." I enjoy thought provoking coversation to pointless small talk, so I like hard hitting questions.
"What's the best thing about having a stroke?" He asked.

I had to think about that for awhile, my initial answer was nothing, but then I thought more and I came up with this: The best thing about having a stroke is that I am so much more grateful for everything in my life than I was before, nothing like a little brush with death to remind you of how good you have it. I am also a better mother than I would have been, I'm more patient, kinder, gentler and more present than I would have been. I know life can end in an instant so I enjoy every single moment I have , I also have to convince myself that I can do something when I'm not sure I can do it so I'm finding hidden reserves of self-confidence that I didn't know I had, I truly believe that I am tuning into a more beautiful person as a result of all of this. Oh, and without the stroke I wouldn't have the best prize of all:Charlotte.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Big Question

When I'm at work, my afflicted arm, Larry, is usually safely tucked away in a sling, this is to minimize any confusion when I am ringing people up, I prefer people think I'm injured over wondering why I'm only using one hand.

As a result of this, I get a lot of questions about what I did to myself, I always segway into my answer by saying,
"It's really not a very cool story..I had a stroke, so the arm is paralyzed."

The response is usually a shocked look and an inability to know how to respond to that, it's usually a pretty uncomfortable situation to be in with a stranger. I always try to deflect the discomfort with some kind of self-depricating humor, I figure, if they can see that I don't take myself or my situation too seriously, that it's not nearly as dire as it seems. Today I found myself talking with people about how thankful I am to be walking around and talking about my experience, because some stroke survivors are left with some very serious deficits when it comes to communicating and this is why I always answr The Big Question honestly, because I may be the only stroke survivor that person evermwwts who can communicate clearly about their journey and, that's an important discussion to have, in my opinion.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

It's Allright, It's O.K.

In my darkest moments in rehab, I would lay in my bed, staring at the clock on the wall, trying to figure out what this strange object was trying to tell me, I also thought...a lot I thought about what had happened to me, I sat and thought and dispaired and got very angry at the universe, how dare the universe give me such a perfect, healthy, beautiful baby that I couldn't take care of? How dare it take away my great life, I had? I worried that I would never be able to care for my child the way I wanted to, I worried that Charlotte and I wouldn't bond to one another well, because I was unable to breast feed as I wanted to, I was worried that someday Charlotte would be embarrassed of her disabled mom and never want me around as a result.

The other day, as I was shoveling food into her baby bird-like mouth, I thought about all of that fear, anger, saddness and self-doubt and chuckled to myself, how silly that all seems now. Nowadays I get up when she does, get her out of bed and dressed and fed, then we play together all day. a year ago, all of that seemed like an impossibility, not it is a routine, one that both she and I look forward to, I do, my concerns about not being bonded to her now seem ridiculous, because, even, I, who am constantly riddled with self-doubt, can clearly see that we have a very close bond to each other, kindred spirits, after all, look at what we got through together, how can we not have a bond? Now our closeness is easy to see by anyone who swings by for a visit.

And, I'm sure Charlotte will be embarreassed of me someday, I am her mother, after all and am an embarrassement by default, but will it be because I'm"disabled"? No, I don't think so, because I'm not really disabled, I just have to do things a little differently than other people, slower and, really she's going to grow up with that, it's going to be normal. now I know she'd going to brag abouth her mother who can do asnything she pits her mind to regardless of how challenging it may be, her mom who can do all of these everyday mom things, onehanded. I'm gonna make damn sure she's proud to call mr "mama, and I think she will be, damnit!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Spring Cleaning

Today I made a decision, I spend a lot of my time comparing myself to how I used to be to how I am now, I was a fast talker and mover, etc... I used to do this at my job, but now I do that, blah blah blah, today I decided that I am who I am now and my job is my job.

I am done bringing Old Liz in and coaring her to me now, it's only holding me back, because, really, even if everything suddenly snapped back to the way it was the morning of my stroke, I am still forever changed because of all of this.

And that's ok.
It's actually good, the best thing that's ever happened to me.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Splish Splash Part Deux

On this recovery journey that I'm on there are cripplingly horrible days, days where I doubt if it's even worth trying anymore

And then there are wonderful days,  like today that remind me why I should never ever give up.

A few days ago, I had a revelation of sorts, I was thinking about the moments leading up to my stroke, the last moments I remember before I woke up in the ICU two days later to name the baby I had given birth to without knowing it. Those moments were insane, I was not enjoying them, I was terrified, in the worst pain I'd ever been in, even compared to the pain I had walking around with an exploded kidney, I wa terrified of the pain, scared to death of the pushing that was to come and how much would that hurt? I was impatient to meet the little lady who was so forcefully entering into this crazy world. I was not enjoying these moments, I wasn't enjoying the warm tub of water I was soaking in, I wasn't enjoying my funny husband's attempts at levity, or his kind, loving touches,or his calming voice as her helped me breathe through each horrible, artificial contraction. These could have been my last moments on earth, I mean, really. I am in a very small percentile, 99% of people who suffer hemmorhagic stroke die.

As I was sitting in my living room, watching Charlotte thumb through her books, thinking about this, I had an a-ha! moment, I realized that we never know when our last moment may be, so we better enjoy the one we're in now, that's what I've been trying to do the last few days and, let me tell you, life really is a beautiful thing. Today began as any other day does, Matt got Charlotte up, fed and clothed, we all ate breakfast together in the bedroom and watched cartoons on Netflix for while, then we then took off, the new session of the University's OT clinic began today, I met my new student OT, and as I always am at the beginning of each session, left hopeful about the possiblities.

Matt took Charlotte and I out on a "Coffee Date" as we call it; Bronson hospital, the hospital where my life was saved, has an excellent cafeteria and wonderful energy, and great coffee, so we go there sometimes to spend time together, drink a good cup of joe, munch on some treats and, basically reconnect.

Today was the first summer-like day we've had in Michigan so far, so when we got home, Charlotte and I went out on our patio in the backyard, the best place in the yard, it gets direct sunlight, so it gets very warm there, a welcome repreve from the seemingly endless winter we've had here. Matt put our sprinkler onto the patio and turned the hose on, letting the stream of water fall freely on the patio so Charlotte could experiment with the water, she fiulled the tub we gave her and dumped the water over her head, squealing with joy at this new, exciting actvity. So, there I sat, soaking up some much needed vitamin D, watching my daughter learn about water and what floats (sticks) and what does not(rocks).

In a perfect end to a perfect pre-summer day, charlotte and I sat together, me on the floor, her in her ruffly bathing suit bottom and we shared a red white and blue firecracker popsicle.

It is days like today that make those I don't want to try anymore days worth wrestling rheough.

Thank you Universe.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Spring's Awakening

"Now is the winter of my discontent."

This is one of my favorite lines of Shakespeare from my favorite play, Richard III, and it's the phrase I repeated many tines over in the ICU, one of the things I did that reassured my family that all would be well.

I don't know about the rest of the world, but Michigan has had a verrrrry looooong winter this year and today spring sprang. As I manically cleaned the house today I thought about how much more invigorated I've been lately and how I'm kind of having a spring of my own.

There are many reasons I believe I've been feeling bett lately, here they are:

#1. I turned the TV off. Everyday after our morning routine, Charlotte and I would settle into the living room and I would turn the damn thing on and settle myself in front of it all. Day. Long.The other day, as I watched my little daughter gaze hypnotically at the bright flashing box, I thought to myself, "I watch too much TV, and so does she. So I decided to stop. For the past week After our morning family time, Charlotte and I settle into the living room and I turn on either Pandora or Spotify and we listen to music and play all day. This has improved my time in a lot of ways; I am more engaged and attentive when I'm interacting with her, so I notice more than I did befor, like, oh my God, I have got to clean that pack and play out! So I did! TV causes laziness and laziness begets laziness, so if I was considering cleaning something, I wouldn't if I sat down in front of that energy suck machine, in the past week I've cleaned Charlotte's room, the diningroom, the living room and the pack and Play. As a result of all of this I feel mor purposeful, more like the good mom I've been trying to be. I am also more clearheaded after a day of staring at Charlotte, rether than being all fdoggy after looking at the boob tubeall day. Because I'mmore willing to accomplish tasks throught the day, I feel mor purposeful and my days are less monotonous than they were.

#2 I'm becoming more comfortable with Liz 2.0. Sure Old Liz was a pretty cool chick, but, I decided this week that it's not worth my time and energy trying to be this person I'm not anymore and can't remember, it's like trying to behave like our 13 year-old selves, who can remember what that was like anymore? S I've arrived st this decision, anyone who doesn't like Liz2.0 can take her or leave her, because I think she's ok. She's mindful and present, always tries hard, is constantly trying to be the best person she can be, always does her best, perseveres and she's prwtty funny! The jokes are pretty bad, but that endearing, right?

#3The four Agreements.  If you are not familar with this book, read it! I've recently put this up on my computer desktop
 and I attempt to follow these rguidelines everyday, I actually read the book after I moved to CT, but I was for too into my own stuff at the time to be that mindfull, the kicker on thi is, Always do your best, I repeat that phrase to myself all day long and it pushes me to work harder, try harder, so I go to bed completely satisfied with my performance for the day, I have no regrets.

And at night when I askmyself, what was the vesst part of today? I have been saying, "all of it!"

Maybe she's found peace, finally!

Sunday, April 14, 2013


 "friendship, friendship,
Just a perfect blendship,
When other friendships have been forgot
Ours will still be hot!"

-Anything Goes

There is one universal truth I have learned over the years and it is this: you learn a lot about the people around you in an emergency situation, and you may be surprised. I have also learned that you learn who your true friends are when disaster strikesm you also learn who you van count on and who you can't

In 2004 when my non-functioning kidney(long story) got infected, I was in the worst possible pain of my life to date. I walked around, sick as a dog and in chronic pain for over a month. The day I finally dececided I should probably go to the hospital- I didn't have insurance at the time so I was terrified to seek  out medical care- I made the most telling decision of my life, instead of calling my live-in boyfriend, I called my friend Kyle. I knew my boyfriend had something going on that day that he wouldn't leave to take me to the ER, something deep in my gut told me Kyle was the right choice, and she was. Kyle was on lunch break at her job, about thirty minutes away, she got to me in 15 minutes after hearing my tearful plea for a ride. She then took me to the ER and wauted with me in the waiting room, she came into the back with me while I waited for my blood test results, the cat scan results and my boyfriend, who she called for me, finally after a couple hours my diagnosis came down, I had a "rip roarin'" kidney infection in my non-functional kidney, who I had named Harvey(yes, I like to nam e my subordinate body parts), the kidney had formed an absess and birst, so that guy had to come out.

Kyle stayed at the hospital til I was settled in my room, she proceeded to visit with me everyday, almost all day long for the week was there, once I was released, she became my nurse caring for the tubes, they had inserted to drain my kidney, a job, the boyfriend didn't want or offer to do. Truly, Kyle went above and beyond for me.
Then in 2011, I had a stroke, in childbirth, When I came to from surgery, I asked Matt to call some frinds to tell them what had just happened, Kyle, Dexter and Sheila.

Needless to say none of them knew what to do, since they were all in different states. So, Sheila took to the internet on my behalf, putting up a note on Facebook, informing all of those who loved me of what had just happened and giving ideas of how to cheer me on, thank goodness I didn't have to do that myself! The first time I signed onto Facebook I was greeted with an overwhelming amount of messages of support and encouagement, how uplifting. Then, Sheila contacted The Feminist Breeder, my favorite blogger, TFB ran a greeting card campaign for me, well, I recieved so many cards from all over the worl, women sharing their stories with me, giving me support and it couldn't have come at a better time, I stll pull those cards out when I'm feeling down, what a thpoughtful gift from a distsnt friend.

I feel lodt without Kyle here, some days

And then the most unexpected thing happened: I made a friend!A few years ago, Matt's mom got remarried, her husband ha a daughter, Amanda, Amands is a deeply empathetic and caring individual, even though she had never met me, she couldn' sleep until she heard I was OK the night everything happened. Once I was in rehab, she wanted to meet me, so I did. I don't remember much about the first time I met Amsnda, I was still in my post-stroke haze and tired from a full day of therapy, we didn't sau much to each other, Amanda being a little shy and me not knowing what to say to put her at ease.

When I was released from the hospital, Amsnda was staying at our house. this was the time she got to know me. Honestly, I have no idea why shr likes me so much, since this was the first time she spent any significant time with me, the first week home, was the darkest time of my life and I was a whiny, whimpering, wounded baby the whole time Amsanda was visitiing and now, I consider her the closest friend I have, the fact that she could overlook all of my issues during those early days to get to the good stuff that is inside me shows that I have found a true kindred spirit, someone who has seen me at my worst and still loves me what's the point, Liz?Your friend will show themselves to you when you need them most, keep them close and hold onto the good ones, they are like gold.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Liz 2.0

I know I've discussed the new version of myself before, but lately it's becoming apparent that Liz 2.0 is vastly different from the Liz I was pre-Stroke.

I get quite a bit of feedback on the differences in my personality and a lot of it is along the same lines, coming from different people, so I can no longer ignore it.

Matt's family is the most vocal abou the shifts in my personality, they feel I am warmer, more open and lees stand off-ish. Tonight, one of my close friends told me they feel closer to me since this has happened, when I asked her why, she explained that I am more authentic now, the walls I had up before are gone, I am more open than I was. When this feedback started coming in, I was shocked to find that people found I was stand off-ish. But, now that I've had time to think about it, yes, I am warmer, not shy to tell someone I lovem that I love them, never shy to give a big hug if that's what I wat to do. Why not? Life is too short to miss an opportunity to hug someone you care about and you should always tell peopl what you think.

I am more forthcoming in how I feel about things, I always speak my mind these days, why not? Whst do I have to lose? Nothing. I will speak my truth, no matter what.

So, I'm starting to see that Liz 2.0 ispretty damn cool and just as groovy as the original.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Inner Monologue

I've been acting in some capacity since I was nine and took my first acting class, yes, if anyone is keeping track, that means I've been at it for about 25 years, one of the first lessons you learn as a young actor and in the subsequent acting classes that follow is about the inner monologue.

Now, everynormal person has a constant chatter that runs through their head as their day progresses,the inner monologue, this narration colors how we react to the many siruations we encounter during our day, so, as an actor, I learned that it was important to always keep in mind what my character's iner monologues was, in order to ensure her reactions were realistic.

One of the greatest lessons I've learned as a result of all of this hula baloo is that a simple change in my inner monologue has been invaluable to me; Where there was a lot of "I can'ts" , "Why did this happens" and "Not fairs" There are now "Of course I cans" and a lot o f " There is no reason why you can't do this'"

I spend most of my time convincing myself that I am capacle of more than I think I am and I've found that altering my inner monologue has made a huge difference in my confidence level when I'm navigaring my world in my new body
What ways can you alter your inner monologue to improve your quality of life?

Thursday, February 14, 2013


A combination of factors have turned today into quite a profound day; I ended my day yesterday by reading my friend Nancy's blog , she always leave me with a smile on my face and love in my heart, I woke up thinking of love in it's many forms.

Also, as I was waiting to leave for therapy this morning, I finished a book! This is a big deal for a few reasons: Reading is now a difficult activity, as I have hard time following narrative and frequently lose my place due to lack of attention, so finishing a book is a big deal, because it takes FOREVER to read one, and I have tons I am really excited to read, but I will keep trying, because the more I do, the easier it will get, right?

I finished This book , and awhile it started out promising, Julia Fox Garrison described the aftershocks of stroke, in a way I couldn't verbalize, but as she proceeded through her recovery journey, I found her refusal to accept her state of being unsettling and upsetting, because I've decided to enjoy my life. No. Matter. What.But her final chapter was so moving, it summed her journey up, they way I would sum up mine so far. This conclusion was so profound I've been thinking about it all day, while I was in therapy, trying my damndest to reach both of my arms into a washer and pull the laundry out, sitting in the cafeteria of the hospital where my life was saved with my husband and daughter, drinking coffe, eating kettlecorn and discussing the horrors of that night and how Matt spent his time while I was in the ICU, just upstairs.

The insecurities I've been experiencing all week dissolved this afternoon as I thought about what Julia FoxGrrison had to say; Life really is full of miracles and every momrnt is an important one, because we never know what's going to happen next, that's what makes life so amazing.

This stroke took away my ability to care for my new baby the way I wanted to, but it's also made me into a more patient and present mother than I may have been without it, as a very wise woman once said t: you can ask the universe for what you want, it may not happen the way you want it to, though..

Because of the stroke I take in and relish every lovely moment I have with my family, like last night, as Matt, Charlotte and I were on the couch together as Matt was tickling Charlotte producing her lovely laugh, the most beautiful sound on earth, I made sure to take note of how she smelled, like freshly bathed baby, how I was feeling, like crying out of happiness and what Matt was doing, smiling at Charlotte, so I could lock that moment away in my memory. I never would have paid that much attention to a single moment before. I was grateful pre-stroke, but for the typical things, but I am tgrateful now, for more than the typical stuff, for the ability to kiss Charlotte and teach her where her belly is and for evey amazing breath,  I may have missed the newborn stuff, but I'm here now and I'm not going to miss anything! Like I told her when I got home from the hospital, "I'm gonna be up your ass from here on out!" The stroke took a lot, but it's given more than I could ever imagine.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Out of The Fog

This morning I woke up at 8:30 to the sound of Charlotte crying in her room. I got up, started warming some milk up, grabbed a squeezey Apple sauce thingy  that she likes and headed up to her room, I then proceeded to change her and dress her , plopped her into her high chair and fed her breakfast, once we were done eating I administered her "Sleepy Juice (warm milk) and put her back into her crib and then I let the whiny dog out to pee, adminstered his morning drink of water and went back to bed (hopefully, you never know).

I awoke at 11:30 to the sound of Matt rolling around, and realized what time it was, my god! was the baby still sleeping?! Was the dog still content?! Must be, because the house was quiet. I lay in bed for a minute, marveling with amazement at my state of being in that moment. I was blissfully pain-free at that moment; I'd been fighting off a three day migraine up until this morning, when the weather changes significantly, I become plunged into headacheland for three days, it never fails. When I am in the migraine haze I can't focus on anything other than the pain, so I don't get much pleasure out of anything, but better yet, my handi work with Charlotte had earned Matt and I a nice sleep-in today!

I've been going through some kind of strange funk lately, feeling highly inadequate, as a wife, a mother and person in general, so, the fact that I was able to cater to my daughter'ss needs this morning, granting my over worked, tired husband some extra shut eye, without him having to do anything made me feel like a good mom and wife, finally! Maybe I'm getting the hang of this stuff!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Triumph over he Weepies!

Cleaning the house is a meditation in frustration for me; An act that I've always loathed is now completely obnoxious now that it is so difficult to accomplish, but cleaning gets me off my butt, helps mr get some exercise and gives me an opportunity to make Larry do some work

Due to my already fragile emotional state  (for many various reasons) today's cleaning adventure was especially trying, I found myself getting more and more agitated as I went on becoming overwhelmingly frustrated  as I kept losing my grip on the broom handle, and completely volcanic as the vacuum got tangled in it's own cord whilr I vacuumed and listened to the sog whine and the baby cry at that moment I came close to losing my shit, dropping everything onto the floor and crumpling into a heaping pile of sobbing wetness, moaning painfully at my pitifull state of being, but then, I looked over an saw my darling child peeking over the edge of her play pen, watching me clean, seeing me being productive, my primary morivation behinf getting up off the couch to clean once in awhile is so she can see her mother accomplishing tasks and being productive and not just being a lazy slug. I saw her looking expectantly at me, what path was I going to go down? Was I going to be over-emotional, cries all the time, self-pitying Mom or I can accomplish whatever I put into my head to do Mom? At that moment I had to choose which side she was going to see so I fought back my urge to crumple and give into the hardness of it all What does Tom Hanks say in A League Of Their Own?

"It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great." At that moment I thought od that quote, finished vacuuming, lt rhe dog out to pee and held, rocked and changed my angel daughter.

This the first success I've had in presenting Charlotte with the mom she should have, I decided a week ago, that I was going to stop breaking down in front of her, I want her to have a strong female role model, a woman who can do anything, who doesn't feel sorry for herself just because things aren't ideal and sare harder than they used to be.

I felt successfull , once I completed the clean, because I did it without weeping, because there wasn't anything to cry about. I CAN vacuum th living room and I CAN sweep the floor, I CAN take care of my 15-Month-Old and a puppy at the same time! I gues I am a real Mom after all!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Next to Godliness

I am not a clean person, anyone who has visited anyof the apartments I've lived in over the years, or lived with me, can attest to that fact. Why? I'm lazy, I hate cleaning, and because I hate  it, I'm no good at it, so I avoid it like the plague.

As a result of my injury, not much has been expected of me as far as cleaning goes, so Matt ends up bearing the brunt of keeping the home we share with John, my Brother-In-Law, clean. I really hate not contributing to the household, but anytime the idea of me cleaning or helping to clean, my self-doubt and total lack of faith in my abilities have reared their ugly heads and stopped me from even trying.

So, in an effort to stay active and stick to my new year's resolution: strong body, strong choices, etc.. I decided that once a week I would take on cleaning the living room, the room where Charlotte and I spend most of our time, which therefore gets VERY messy, I was scared when the first day arrived that I had designated as Cleaning Day, I almost backed out, overwhelmed by the amount of work ahead of me, but then I found if I broke the cleaning down into a series of small jobs, it didn't seem so bad, and I did it! And my neat freak of a brother-In-Law approved of the job I did, a true success, ever since, I've been sticking to my guns, trying to find little things to clean throughout the week, so I don't have as much to do on Cleaning Day.

Never before have I found so much satisfaction from cleaning or been so proud of the job I've done, but when I gaze at my newly cleaned room, I feel like a kid who just got a gold star from her teacher. So, that'll teach me to stop second guessing myself or shoul, anyway.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

I Yam Who I Yam

In the midst of try to coax Larry out of retirement, I find the biggest battle I'm fighting lately is that os self-discovery and acceptance.

I work everyday to hold my head high, to not be ashamed of my differences, to not cling to the person I was, the person I can no longer remember, because I know, someday I will find the same level of self-knoeledge and acceptance that I had pre-stroke. In fact, I believe,  I have an unusual level of self-awareness, for a stroke survivor, I have been told by some of my therapists that it is unusual for many survivors to be as aware of their deficits as I am, I know I forget things frequently, causing me to appear absent-minded, something I NEVER would have been categorized as, so I always double-check before I wrap up something I'm working on, ensuring, I haven't forgotten to picj up some trash or missed some important detail, this is thanks to my super- Speech Therapist, Annie, one of the first pieces of advice she gave me, when we were adressing my lack of attention to detail was to always assume I'm missing something. I know, it sounds awful, but it REALLY helps. Whenever I'm finishing up a task, like showering, for example, I always ask myself, "O.k., what didn't I do?"And sure enough, I'll realize I never rinsed the conditioner out of my hair!

So, the last few days I've been trying to focus on all of the good qualities about myself that are surfacing out of all of this, in the hopes that I will pay attention and finally realize that Liz 2.0 isn't the poor man's Liz after all. It's working, I think, but I 've been feeling way more comfortable in my sink lately.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

One Small Step

I didn't realize when I took that first step into my shower that I was beginning a whole new chapter in my journey.

Since I took that huge leap of faith iin myself, I am finding myself becoming more adventurous in the things I sttempt to do.

I am now releasing Larry from his binding sling everyother day and trying to incorcorate him into my everyday life by having him hold pill bottles for me while I open them, he even carried a broom down the stairs for me the other day, as a result I have been feeling that I'm on the verge of a breakthrough with him, now all I have yo do is open my hand, then I'm home free...maybe. So send some open vibes to Larry and me, I am hereby determined to open the damn thing in the near future!And all of this started with a little step into my bathtub...who knew!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I've had a lot of time to think about my life since this happened, I had a lot of time to think while I was in rehab, especially as we drove to some outing or another. I remember one day , we were going on an out ting to a local museum, I was ecstatic, to get to leave the confines of my hospital room for the day, to breathe , fresh, ocold, winter air and I got to take Charlotte with us! So, it would be her first trip to the museum! As we drove to the museum, I gazed out of the window of the van that took us there, I watched the familiar landscape of my hometown glide past me and I thought about my life, about the people I've met and the experiences I've had. I pictured my life as a tapestry. If I could weave my life into one of those glorious things, I thought, it would have tons of bright colors, twists and turns and surprises in it. And it would be beautiful. Are there things I would change about my life? Srure. I would have quit smoking waaay earlier than I did, I would have, not taken birthcontrol pills for as long as I did, I would have dealt with that one break-up waaay better than I did, oh, and that one SUPER bad decision I made many years ago, that still plagues me to this day....yeah, I would have done things differently, but really, even though all roads have lead here, I wouldn't take much back, because all of those decisions lead me to marry Matt which brought Charlotte to me, and my life is a beautiful comglomeration of stupid mistakes, awsome friendships and people I am happy I met and, I gotta say, I've got some damn good stoeies as a result!S, do I live with regret? Sure. who doesn't?

My point? Life is beautiful and anytime life's got you doen, think of how beautiful the tapestry of your life would be and be thankful for every moment!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Larry and the Broom

I've recently started a new routine in order to make myself feel more useful around the house: every Saturday I've decided I'm going to clean the living room, now, I'm not a clean person, and cleaning is not my forte, in fact, I hate it! I've been doing the whole nine yards, sweeping, dusting and scrubbing the floors, with a decent amount of success, meaning, my neat freak Brother-In-Law approves of the job I do, there has been one difficulty though, sweeping, this is a difficult task to accomplish one-handed, so the other day, I noticed that our broom has a grippy thingy on it, so I moved it to the top of the borom and wrapped Lsarry around it, luckily the muscle tone in my hand is pretty tight, so I could keep a good grip on it and I got the arm to move around enough to sweep two-handed! Wow! So much easier! I wasn't expecting much success out of this tactic, but I got it, I figure, if I keep trying stuff like that, Larry will be back in no time!

Sunday, January 13, 2013


One of Matt and my favorite pastimes pre-stroke was sitting in front of adult Swim, watching cartoons as I braided his hair, I was working on mastering the art of french braiding, so I could do it for my daughter someday, I was getting pretty good at it, then this happened...damnit.Matt made up a word for this action, me playing with his hair, it is muzzah, now that I can only use one hand for muzzah we have now moved onto brush-za, so I brush his hair for him now.

Yesterday I fell into the downwars spiral of self-pity and anger that I discovermyself in on occasion. As I drug myself upstairs to go to bed, I found myself cursing this fucking stroke for taking my life away from me. My bitter resentment was bubbling over, pouring out of myears, how dare life take everything that was good in my life away from me? The first great job I had, my awesome marriage, my full functional body.

Then, this morning, as usual, Charlotte changed everything. Our little family has a neat little morning routine, we all gather in our bedroom, Charlotte eats the oatmeal Matt makes for her, she and I cuddle on the bed and we watch King of the Hill on Netflix, the opening theme music is Charlotte's favorite thing right now and we do that rill Charlotte is ready for Morning Nap. This morning, Matt left the room to take a shower, so I got down on the floor and hung out with Charlotte, we just sat there for awhile, then she found the brush I had been using for Matt's brush-za, she started brushing her own hair, which was pretty cool, then she started brushing mine! I looked into her beautiful face and saw the kick she was getting out of brushing my hair and I was so thankful to be there with in that moment, because, let's be honest, I could have easily dropped dead the day she was born, but I didn't, I got toe be here so Charlotte could brush my hair. Gone was my seething resentment, history was my self-pity. Thank goodness fot my delightful little 14-month-old!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Splish Splash

Yesterday I set a goal for myself to accomplish today, it was a goal, I've been considering tackling, but haven't tried out of fear and uncertainty. Yesterday, something struck me, it was time to give it a shot.

So today, I walked into my bathroom, turned the shower on and took the shower chair out of the tub, I plced it firmly next to the tub on the floor, made sure the water was the right temperature, took a deeo breath and attempted the task I've been told is one of the most dangerous things a person in my position can attempt. I sat on the side of the tub, swung my legs over the side and planted my feet firmly on the rubber bath mat and in two seconds, there I was, standing up in the shower for the first time since the morning of November 2,2011. I cheered myself on for getting that far without a single slip, the thing I was most terrified of, I kept the shower chair next to the tub, do I could touch the back of it occasionally for balance, you see, since the stroke, my balance has been severely compromised, so leaning my head back to rinse shampoo out of my hair with my eyes closed causes the world to spin around me as if I had a few too many whiskey on the rocks, this is a scary event when standing on a brace-less, weak left leg in a slippery environment, so having the chair there to steady myself with helped build my confidence as I moved through the process of taking the most normal shower I've had in more than a year.

By the time I was finishing up, I was getting more comfortable in my new environment, I was moving around in there without holding onto stuff and I never slipped, not once. In the end, it was the most satisfying shower I've had in a very long time! A return to normal, which I intend to make this process. I felt so good by the end that I stepped out of the shower like a normal person instead of reversing the swivel move I used to get in.

Now I can see trying new things, that terrify me, is a good thing. I feel like I accomplished something huge today, jumped a giant hurdle and moved closer to recovery.

Friday, January 4, 2013


Most of the time, stroke affects one side of the body, weakening the muscles of that side. As we all know, my left side has been affected, that means the muscles in my face, throat, arm, leg, toes, etc... As a result of this I had to be restricted to thickened liquids while in the ICU, because my ability to swallow was so affected, thickened liquids are disgusting, trust me, you never want to experience this particular form of torture, if you're looking for refreshment, you will not find it in the form of thickened liquids. the left side of my face was the most noticably affected, other that my totally ineffective arm, of course, I could not strike an even smile, making picture taking an anxiety inducing eperience, because I would end up looking at a picture of myself that crumpled what was left of my self-esteem. Then Christmas day came...

Here's a little back story first: One day when I was about 13ish, I was watching Growing Pains, getting a little bored because the only cute boy on the show was way too old for me, and onto the set walked this REALLYcute blonde boy who captured my attention and affection for the next 30 years of mylife, yes, I have a die hard crush on Leo DiCaprio, it's true, I'mm not ashamed,In fact, I will swoon over him openly to anyone who will listen, he's cute and, as far as I'm concerened, talented, and only getting better as he ages. So, my friend, Amanda was staying at our place for a few days leading up to Christmas, and she kept waving my present in front of me, taunting me with it, it was something framed, so I was perplexed, what could it be? She was obviously excted about it, so it must be some thing really cool. She is a very talented artist, so I was thinking she had drawn me something.

Christmas morning came, the grown ups drug themselves out of bed and the kids enthusiastically ripped into their gifts, at one point, during a lull in the gift opening process, Amanda bursts out with, "Liz! You should open your gift" Obviously she was too excited to wait any longer, I was excited, because I know when you are that excited about giving a gift, it's something pretty incredible. She plopped it on my lap, I was intrigued to say the least. So, I started slowly tearing the paper off of the bottom of the gift and as it fell away, a scrawled signature appeared, over a very familiar, cute, pair of lips that I instantly recognized, a squeal of delight slipped out of my mouth, it was an autographed photo of Titanic-aged Leo, "He touched it! He touched it!" I squeaked over and over again, there were so many photos being taken at that moment and my delight was so great that I didn't have time to think abuot pointing my good side towards the cameras.

The photos that have come back from that moment have shocked me, my smile is now even, when I'm not trying, after months of face and mouth exercises and electrical stimulation, I am now able to present a confident, even smile to the camera, as long as I'm not faking it! I can now move forward in life, confident that my smile is not freaking people out, the way I see it, if my face can even itself out with a little work, then so can the rest of my body!