Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sunday Stroke Survival ~ Failure is NOT an Option

A few weeks ago Barb Polan talked on her blog about failures as a stroke survivor. I say failure is not an option I will not accept it in recovery ever. How about you?
  • Do you look at your rehab efforts and recovery as failure?
  • Do you look at you rehab efforts and recovery as humbling?
  • Do you look at your rehab efforts and recovery as setting yourself up for failure?
Stop that! ( Dean that's for you grinning)

You are not empowering yourself, but demoralizing yourself and setting yourself up for failure. It is a self fulfilling prophecy. Ever heard of it? The thing about stroke recovery is that it's all about the brain...damaged brain, healing brain, thinking brain, and the visual brain. The human mind is powerful and is constantly learning until the day you die. The neurons are constantly firing to remember, to store, produce movements, and has redundant system operating systems just waiting for re-education and activation.

You've all heard the phrase, "You are what you eat." The same applies to stroke recovery, "You are what you think." I often use a quote from Edison and always screw it up. I find 10,000 to big of a number to visualize. Have you ever visualized it? It looks like a crowded mess. But the point is taken...keep trying until success.

To feel successful is awesome to anyone.It is strived for and just as elusive to obtain for everyone. Granted we just want to have our old lives back prior to the stroke. But realize this...even with 100% recovery, it won't be the same lives EVER. We are forever changed by circumstances we live through.

Okay, so you want to be a little more normal. Like me, I'd love to have my right arm back. Life would would be semi-sorta normal if I could use two arms, elbows, wrists, and fingers. Just the thought fills me with abundant joy, but that just ain't happening right now.
I remember my in hospital based rehab just after my stroke, I was determined and very optimistic about making it happen before I came home. It didn't happen. Okay, I thought, two months of hard work and I'll have partial use. It didn't happen. Then the date was within six months of my stroke. Nope, but I did manage some voluntary elbow movement. A victory to be sure, but was it enough to me? Nope. I extended my goal to a year, my first anniversary of my stroke. In fact, I back tracked due to a separated AC tear in my shoulder and spasticity set in. Was I disappointed, yes! Was I a failure, no.
All of this was very disheartening but a failure to achieve? Because that's what failure or the sense of failure really is. Nope. I was still attempting my goal. I am still attempting my goal after almost 18 months post stroke. Just what have I achieve and grab onto as successful. That's the key to any good cheerleader. "That's okay. That's alright. Now get up and fight, fight, fight!"

But what if you've been going at recovery for weeks, months, or years without success? How do you keep going and not accept failure as an option? I don't know about years because I'm not there yet, but it helps to have a good support network. Even if it is one person. A spouse, a dog, your kid, another stroke survivor, even if that one person is me. 

I'm donning my high school cheerleading outfit. Actually, truth be known, I never was a cheerleader, but I did dress up as one for Halloween. Hmm, it rides up at the midsection. Grumble, grumble. Darn these spandex panties. one leg fits into the waist band now. Ah heck, good enough. Here I go. Squeezing the pom pom into my paralyzed hand and grabbing one in my functional one and waving them wildly visually.

"Go Strokee go!
If you can't do it
Nobody can!" 

It's all basically up to you.

Nothing is impossible with determination.


  1. I love ur optimism!!! "Nothing is impossible with determination." :)) it was very hard for me to "not be successful"/to "fail" in my early recovery. I am persistent like crazy though, so it never detered me, and perhaps pushed me to try harder the next time. That's a big part of stroke recovery in my opinion. The repitition....obviously...and the intense focus. It wasn't about me going through the motions of an was about using every bit of energy, focus, and determination to MASTER the exercise. For me, using a mirror for every exercise, helped to provide the feedback I needed to see where I went wrong/right. Whoops, I digressed....but I agree...failure is not an option...but it sure sucks to not be able to do the things u want to do when u want to do them....especially when those same things used to come easily. I'm glad I'm on the other side of most of this . It does get better with all the hard least that has been my experience! :)

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  3. Elizabeth, Thank you. I about halfway on the wrong side of the tracks and the right side. Eeek! I'm standing ON the tracks!

    1. Oops, hurry up if ur ON the tracts and then after crossing stand back and congratulate urself on how far u have come. I will be 3 years in didn't come easily or quickly, but it is happening. Mine was in the basal ganglia too. I think I read somewhere, same for u. Cheering u on!!! :)

  4. Nothing is impossible with determination

    Love it! The only way to fail is to stop trying. As long as we're moving we're winning.

  5. Congrats Elizabeth! Yep mine was a basal ganglia stroke. I need all the cheering on I can get. This spasticity is killer.

    Sara- That's my thinking too.

  6. Thank you for your words of wisdome. I havent had a stroke but I do have an incurable cancer. I plan on being the best, happest, healthest cancer woman our doctor has ever met. I continue with treatment and it keeps me happy and working and moving.
    You are on the right track and I thank you for your honesty and candor.

  7. LynnMarie, My husband also has an incurable cancer. We live each day as it comes. He thanks God every morning when he wakes up that he did wake up for the new day he can spend with loved ones. He is close to the end of his 11 year fight, but each day he thanks God that he opened his eyes. There's hope and power in that.


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