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!