Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunday Stroke Survival and Writing

How do you stay motivated to write or keep doing the same thing day after day for months?

Most times the answer is to see progress. That's okay in my writing life. In writing. you have ideas and memories bouncing around your brain, and being put into your word processor. If all else fails there is the word count on the bottom of the page. That's enough to satisfy most times. What do you do when the thoughts won't come? All the times when you are looking at a blank page and you can't decide what to write next?

I have always written both novels and nonfiction writing in linear terms. I would start at the beginning, progress to the middle, and keep going until the end.  It was my problem solving strategy too. Even though I looked for unorthodox solutions or thinking outside the box, I could do all things in life in this fashion. I could micro and macro manage at the same time. It was one of my greatest gifts, besides faith, as a writer and a person.

All that changed May 25, 2012. I am forgetful if I don't write it down. I'll have a brain fart when two or more thoughts clash in my brain at the same time. Think of it as a Doh! moment or your brain going blank. I know I walked into the kitchen for something but for the life of me, I can't remember what it was. For most people, it's retracing your steps until you remember, but for a stroke survivor living in a house that is not handi-capable it's a royal pain in the backside. I finally stopped hitting myself on the forehead. It was causing severe headaches from doing it so often.

 In therapy they tried electric stimulation to get my foot to raise up to a dorsiflexion (when you arch your foot upwards from the ankle instead of the foot drop position) and evert ( turning your foot outwards instead of rotating inwards). It was a miserable failure. While they could get my ankle to do one or the other, the therapists could not position the electrodes to do both at the same time. My brain just couldn't work my foot in two directions at the same time. It still can't without going into clonus (tremors). I've spent months trying with no positive results just like movement in my arm.

The simple act of walking requires both of these movements at the same time. While the AFO handles the foot drop and the eversion, my brain is conscience of both impulses going through it leading to the tremors. It's a no win situation. My brain as well as my muscles get exhausted almost the same time, but surprising enough, my brain over stimulation does not occur with bicycling unless I've peddled over three miles.

As a result of my stroke, my brain now functions in random thinking mode. Nothing is linear. It's more like squiggly lines that don't begins or end in any clear path. I make three editing passes with every blog to get cohesiveness so it's not some ramblings from an injured brain. It's practice in trying to accomplish less  random thinking.

It's a total about face to the way I usually write and it is very confusing. While I see the word count increase, my writing is disjointed and hopping all over the place. It's more than a bit disconcerting to me. So while I'm writing my new book, I feel like there is no forward progress being made despite the word count. It's totally different than anything I've attempted in my life.

I recently had a thought that if I bought left-handed scissors I might be able to cut with them better. After talking to a few lefties, I was assured that it would work.  It worked so now I'll attempt sewing. Easy stuff at first, and then work on more complicate things. I've always enjoyed creating something from nothing, and maybe why I love writing so much.

Try as I might my handwriting, although clear and partially readable, is still primary school level. I just don't use handwriting skills that much these days. I guess I could cheat and type out my grocery list, and print it out, but then I would get no practice.

There is something about forcibly learning to do something you're not used to which changes your perspective about learning how to do new things when you are used to doing it a certain way. I wrote once about letter writing becoming a lost art form, for me now it's true unless I keep working at it. I honestly work so hard at living and trying to get some semblance of normal I just don't have the energy to relearn something else to acceptable levels.

So how do you keep yourself motivated?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

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