Friday, March 29, 2013

Four Weeks, Eight Challenges

When I meet someone for the first time now, I'm not sure if they know that I had a stroke. They see that I have a limp and use a cane; some people might notice that I’m a little slow in answering questions; or another person might notice that I don’t use my right arm much. But I think people don’t always realize that I have a brain injury.

But I actually want to tell them about the strange journey I’ve been on over these three years. If I’m having a bad day, I might want  some sympathy and understanding for all my disabilities, especially the invisible ones: the fatigue; the spasticity; the tendency to be easily  overwhelmed--I could go on and on. (And I want some sympathy for my husband, too.)

On good days, I want to tell them about how much progress I’ve made, and continue to make. For instance, just since the new year, I drove myself to PT and back; I’ve tried several new recipes for dinner, instead of the old tired recipes that I’ve been using since 2010; I’ve taken my kids to the doctors, by myself--to name a few accomplishments.

So I’m going to make a series of posts about my recent “firsts”--things that I just started to do for the first time since the stroke. I’m also going to challenge myself to try new things on a faster schedule.  And then, of course, write about it. My goal is to challenge myself twice a week for four weeks.

I always think that I’m pushing myself a lot, but I know that having a public deadline can make things happen faster. Wish me luck.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Last week a friend invited me to a get-together at her new home. I was feeling adventurous, so I drove myself. It was the first time since I got my driver’s license back that I drove to a place I’ve never driven to before. It was very nice to be self-sufficient. I even had the mental and physical energy to remember to stop and get some flowers on the way there.

But driving myself is also bittersweet. For almost three years, I’ve relied on rides from so many people: friends, family, neighbors, writing group members, fellow church-goers, friends of my parents, caregivers--to name a few. I know that for the people who have gave me rides, it has not been without cost: most people have many other commitments that compete for their time. But for me, it has been one of the unexpected gifts for me of the stroke. Without that space in time that cars can provide, I would have missed out on so many interesting stories. People have talked to me about their the work projects; their own family dramas; the political causes they're dedicated to; their pet peeves; their personal histories that they wouldn’t divulge with children around. There are so many corners in people's lives I wouldn’t have discovered without my years of forced dependence.