Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday Stroke Survival ~ Writing After a Stroke

I think we are finally out of the woods for the time being. Until the next time. My husband's congestive heart failure and pneumonia are now a thing of the past and I'm not in constant vigilance mode. This morning he took his oxygen off and walked to the bathroom without getting deathly pale or severely out of breath. He even took the trash outside and came in only mildly out of breath. His color has gone from ashen gray to a ruddy, pale pink again. I'm so thankful for all the prayers.

I've been going around and round for the past few months and not accomplishing anything towards the forward progress of Don't Get Your Panties in a Wad. It is frustrating writing after a stroke. Sure, I can blog, but writing a book is different.

The muse just aren't with me when my focus is scattered in too many different directions. I used to call myself a master juggler. Not any more. It's tough tossing one ball in the air and catching it.

Could part of my problem be fear? Possibly. With two agents chomping at the bit trying to sign me up for this book and talk about an auction, the old fear of have I still got it comes into play. I've been analyzing everything as to why I've stopped writing this book. Maybe Alex's Insecure writer's group would help, but that's not the only reason.

As I mentioned Wednesday, I had the opportunity to speak with a teenager doing her volunteer time in therapy before going to college for a PT license about writing and publishing. Did you know they have to log 100 hours volunteer in a PT/OT center before they can be accepted into school? I didn't until my stroke.

Anyhow getting back to this young girl, when she found out that I was a previously published author she lit up with excitement. She was writing a novel herself. Then we started talking about writing after a stroke. She couldn't understand what the difficulties were. Of course not. It's all about your point of view and experiences. There is no way a 17 year old girl is on an even playing field with me having grandchildren her age and recovering from a stroke.

So I broke it down for her.
  • In writing you plot out your stories. It takes sequencing and linear thinking. Both of which were impaired with my stroke. Although I'm working at it, there is still a deficit.
  • In writing you need command of the language you are writing in. I lost all fluency in languages except English, my third language. Spelling went out the window as did all but simple grammar. When before your stroke you were fluent in eight languages and you are left with one, it can be quite disheartening. Not to mention you are not even fluent in the language you are now speaking. This is evident by all the red and green squiggly line in what you are typing. It gets really irritating when you think you used to write 50-100K words in three months without either.
  • In writing you need to be able to focus and not be scatter brained. Now with my "Dyslexic/ADD" any interruption is the death of whatever you had in your mind. That's me now since the stroke. 
So what's my problem now? I hit 37K words before this writing stoppage. It should be easier now that I've partially recovered what I lost, right?

Wrong. I managed to write so many words because I really did not have many demands on my time. Now, I'm driving, gardening, cooking and my husband's care issues has escalated. Marry that with the low energy levels that plague me, it spells disaster. My muse and desire to write hides under the bed whimpering like a dog during a thunder storm. When I ask my neurologist when can I expect my energy level to return to somewhat normal, I get the depends  and every stroke is different answer. At first she said after a year, but I'm there now with no return of my energy. If you don't know something, just say you don't know.

I still need a nap or two to get through the day depending on what's going on. Then I'm in bed sleeping by ten even with the naps. We're not talking about my old twenty minute power naps either. I'm talking a hour at least possibly three. Now admittedly, I am no longer leaving the therapy department with the vague sense of nausea and falling in bed on arrival home anymore, but on therapy days I'm done for anything more strenuous. I do my gardening, chicken and rabbit care before therapy because I won't have the energy afterwards..

In the old days, I used to build myself up to get more energy. Do one more set of ten or twenty in exercises, but a stroke is weird. The build up just doesn't work. Granted I'm better than I was a month after the stroke but less than 25% of my norm which isn't good. I watch my grands play nonstop and wonder the age old thought of if I could only bottle it, I'd be a millionaire. It's not like pain is draining my energy because the Botox injections knocked most of that out. 5-Hour Energy drink be damned. It doesn't work in this case. All it does is give me heart palpitations from too much caffeine.

So when will I finish this book? I dunno. I'm biding my time because eventually it's got to get better.

Nothing is impossible with determination.


  1. Hi Jo - well all I can say is that you're doing great .. and thank goodness it was English that rose to the fore ... if you'd be posting in Dutch - I'd have been outta here!

    But glad to read your hubby is feeling better, and thus you too - I'm sure that chat with the youngster will inspire her to many things in her life ...

    You're doing much more than most of us put together and coping .. all I can say is build one step at a time .. or write a story one story at a time ...

    Cheers for now - you've got it = nothing is impossible with determination .. so right. Hilary

  2. My first reaction was to tell you to give you self a break. When my husband had a heart attack I was lucky if I had the energy to undress before I went to bed.

  3. Bless you, Jo! I do hope the girl heard what you said. Just keep plugging, but then I know you will. ; )

  4. Jo, I am late for the blitz, but very glad to be or I wouldn't have caught this post. Hang in there, take good care of yourself and keep your faith strong. Determination and the Father's strength behind you will indeed get you there.

    May the Lord bless the desires of your heart.

  5. Hilary- Actually Dutch wasn't one of my languages that I was fluent in, but my brother in law was teaching me.

    Rebecca- I think that was the main gist behind writing this was the break I was giving myself was too long. Or at least I feel it's too long--5 months worth.

    Zan Marie- I am blessed.

    Cate- Welcome aboard to the Murphey Saga.My faith is strong and steadfast.

  6. By like 2 or 3 in the afternoon, I have to lay down and close my eyes. I don't have a choice in the matter. It's unbelievably annoying, I hope that goes away in time. Glad your DH is doing better.

  7. Amy,
    Since I usually wake up between 4 & 5AM, I have to lay down for at least an hour every 5 hours. Now if I am extremely active, it may be every 3-4 hours. No choice either. I've tried pushing the boundaries, but have failed.

  8. Hi Jo, I had a stroke more than 15 years ago so my perspective is a little different from yours i.e. 1 year from your stroke but your motto "Nothing is impossible with determination" is perfect. Just keep on the track and follow your motto. At first you have weird tasks, botox, napping, ... but eventually they will disappear and you will keep on writing. Call me in 2225 years in the future and you can tell me your progress. Meanwhile, at least **I will buy you book**, "Don't Get Your Panties in a Wad" so keep on writing and I'm sure it less than 2225!
    Regards / John A.

  9. John,
    You are right. The perspective is different with time. But I have been known to work for a dozen years or more towards a goal so far. Is this any different? As far as the book, thanks that's one copy sold.

  10. Wohoo now I've got to finish writing it.


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