Monday, March 30, 2020

Ten Years Later: I'm OK. I Hope You Are, Too.

Note: I wrote most of this update a few weeks ago, before the Coronavirus had reached most of the US.

Last month was the tenth anniversary of my stroke. Many people have asked me two questions, either in person or online: Are you OK? Why aren’t you writing these days?

The answer to the first question is: yes, I’m generally OK. I’m still fairly disabled in many (and sometimes weird) ways. But I’ve had great improvements in two areas: my language, and my stamina.

For instance, I rarely need help with telephone conversations or emails now. I admit there was one time recently when I had an issue with my prescription coverage, and after several fruitless conversations and emails with my insurance and doctors, my husband stepped in. He has a Ph.D., and a lot of patience. But I usually manage my own communications, as long as I have enough time and I'm not too sleep-deprived.

And although my stamina varies greatly from day to day, here are some of the things I did on a regular basis this fall: driving into (and parking in) Boston to attend a three-hour class; riding on my recumbent trike for more than 30 minutes on the bike path; and shopping at Wegman’s after a harrowing drive through rush-hour to drop off my daughter at her climbing gym.

As to why I haven't been writing much: I could tell you that I'm too busy with the house, or the kids, or volunteering, or therapies--which is all true. But the main reason is that I think my story is less compelling at this point, both for readers and for me. This is a good thing. My story at first--mother of two young children who suddenly loses the ability to read to her children, to hug them, or generally interact with people normally--was terrible, weird, and poignant. It was great material for writing. And I was desperate to convey my altered reality.

My current story is less dramatic these days: I'm a somewhat disabled mother of two healthy teens, who (with her husband) tries to keep the household from descending into work-a-day chaos. But now that I'm well into middle age, more and more of my friends and connections are dealing with their own physical limitations and deep challenges.

Closing Note: I was pondering the conclusion of this post, and what to write about next, when the pandemic starting taking off. Like most Americans--and most of the world--I'm having a hard time focusing on anything other than the current crisis. My family is healthy, so far. I'm wishing health and safety to all my readers. Wash your hands.