Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday Stroke Survival~ Needs vs. Wants

Have you ever noticed how your focus changes in regards to your therapy workout? Some things you do regularly just because, while other things you do with more intensity? Ever wonder why that is?

It's your focus.

Somethings are more weighted than others. In the hospital my strongest focus was on just a couple of things rather than the whole program. My priorities were on coping with one handed strategies, walking, and speech. Everything else, my attitude fell into the it-would-be-nice-to-have-it-back-but category.

It's the old priority game of NEEDS vs.WANTS or would-be-nice categorizations. Nobody likes to make the list. We want all our wants in the needs pile. So here was my decision factors.

  • The therapist told me that fingers and hands were usually the last things to return after a stroke so that became a back burner issue. Not that I didn't NEED or WANT to have it back, but I realized that since it would take longer, my focus should be on the things that I could have restored quicker. That's not meaning I wouldn't still work at it.
  • I didn't WANT to place my husband in a nursing home or Hospice, so I NEEDED to improve the dexterity in my left hand to function as well as my right hand previously did like drawing up and administering injections, and monitoring vital signs..
  • Walking was a NEED issue. I live in an older home with smaller doors. Most will not allow access with a wheelchair. Although most of my house is level, some areas have a slight step like the marble step up into the bathrooms.
  • Talking was NEED because my husband is deaf and reads lips and if I can't form the words right he won't hear me. This meant working on facial muscles to restore the droop and forming words with my lips properly.
Although my aphasia and speech is still affected by the stroke, my cognitive function was moderately impaired. As an author this came as a hard blow once I realized how severe the deficit  was when I tried to go back to my normal life once I got home from the hospital.

I had the ability to remember two out of three words, and the higher cognitive function of decision making choices, but my attention span was fleeting, my memory was full of gaps, my English spelling and grammar was simplistic at best, forming and computing complex strategies, and my ability to multi-task is gone.

While for most people this would be good enough, it isn't for me. The reason I say moderately impaired is because I'm a writer and this is a huge loss.

But getting back to focus. See, my "dyslexic-ADD" kicked in again. My focus since being home has changed. I want to write again. I NEED to publish again. It reason is simple. It's added income. I NEED to get my aphasia and speech under control for my ministry for the same reason.

I WANT and NEED to supplement our income. With ever increasing drains on our finances, I can't wait for Social Security to kick in. That's even with cutting back on essentials, drugs, doctors, and paying a mountain of bills are counted essentials.

My focus now, while the others are still important, in therapy either a hospital-based or at-home is cognitive and my arm. While I still do all the other stuff for my leg, it's now taken a back seat to rebuilding my arm and my brain functioning right. Reading aloud this blog and my other one helps work through my aphasia issues, "playing" games is therapy work and my time spent on force-use of my right arm are helping to restore pathways in my brain. These are my focus areas.

Regaining my foot drop and inverted foot not so much because it functions with the AFO most times. I say most times because the clonus is distracting, and the inversion can be painful when it's fighting with the AFO. My leg will take me where I need to go when supported. It keeps me mobile which is an essential and a NEED.

Yes, there is painful muscle spasms, spascicity, high tone, and a lot of other things that go along with my stroke, but focusing on what NEEDS to be accomplished the soonest keeps me goal orientated and somewhat successful in my rehabilitation workout. Narrowing the goals and focus allow me to achieve that success. Success is a powerful motivator.
  • So separate your NEEDS from your WANTS
  • Make your goals changeable to your NEEDS
  • Focus on your NEEDS
  • Set goals based on NEEDS that are obtainable
Recovery is as much a state of mind as an actual accomplishment.


  1. I know I've said it over and over--but your ability to cut to the chase and make the decisions on needs vs. wants and how to go about them is amazing to me. {hug} Know that there is someone cheering you on.

    1. Zan Marie,
      I was happy when my decision making skills came back within two weeks. I have always cut to the chase no matter what the problem is. Always happy to have another cheerleader on my side.

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