Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Stroke Survival~ It's All About Balance

I'm trying to find my new normal after my second event (stroke). I don't know if I can do it but I'm going to try follow the stroke e-zine guides that republish me for March. I know it isn't March yet (almost) but they will publish the articles during March. So here goes...

It's all about balance in everything you do either as a stroke survivor or not.  I know the gist is supposed to be about balancing to keep from falling but I am taking a different tact because I can. :oP

I'm going to talk about rebalancing your life. You've heard the old saying, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" or something to that effect? It is so true. When you don't listen to your body other things crop up to make you listen and regain your balance.

In the hospital and when I first came home for about three months, I was in rehab mode. In fact, I had little energy to do anything else because I was exercising three times a day! I was that determined I was to get everything back. I refused to compromise with what was. I had no energy to speak of to socialize. When I wasn't physically moving towards improving my body, I was attempting to improve the cognitive function of my brain and dealing with overcoming my aphasia issues. I was an automaton. Sleep, medications, eat, exercise, and rest. All because I was told that this was the way to get it all back in recovery.

Pain stopped this nonstop routine. I had torn my AC joint in my right shoulder in a tumble. Yes, I had to stretch it to get the motion back, but nothing as intense as what I was doing before. As a result the elbow, wrist, and fingers regressed. It took a total of six months of slow, painful healing to restore the joint. While this was going on real life stepped in. There were trips to the store, learning to drive again, and visitors to contend with. I began to socialize more as my aphasia lessened. I was regaining a balance of sorts.

But I was still doing leg exercises and walking. My daily walks reached almost a mile a day. If I couldn't work on my arm then I'd have to double my effort on my leg, I reasoned. Eventually, I'd get rid of the wheelchair, hemi-walker, and cane for good, if I kept it up.  My actual physical balance was much improved to where I could walk on flat, level surfaces without anything. I was pleased! The next goal was to walk outside on unlevel surfaces without anything.

But that wasn't to be. Enter the decubitus. Walking with the AFO caused a pressure sore.  The inversion of my foot worsened as spasticity raised it's ugly head. It wasn't enough that I had to contend with the Clonus that kept me out of a Walk-Aid, but now pressure sores too. Man, I couldn't win for losing. That put me off my feet because I could only be up walking for two hours and out of my brace for four hours. I was having to relearn another new balancing act.

Before my stroke I had medical issues like a bum ticker, diabetes, and replacement joints to contend with but before I could do almost anything I wanted within reason. Yeah, there were limitations, but not like what I've dealt with post stroke. Meanwhile the window of opportunity for full recovery closed or at least for a quick recovery. Granted there is the neuroplasticity factor but that takes years!

Umpteen dozen doctor visits later, the first pressure sore healed. So I begin PT again. I was still pushing for an 85% recovery at this point. I entered the revolving door of pressure sores on my foot. To date there's been six and no possible resolution except surgery to fuse the ankle in place to get rid of the AFO. Yes, it is as painful as it looks! The swelling gets so bad that my size six foot needs a size eight shoe.

With all of this going on my husband is getting weaker and sicker than he's ever been before, so I adjust my life style further to include all these changes except I've found my balance again. I have a rather sedentary interspersed with insane activity lifestyle these days. But in between I still do my stretches and exercises, spasticity and Botox allowing. I'm not so fever pitched on recovery. It will happen when it happens in slow increments. I take the time to enjoy doing things with my grandchildren and friends. I bake and cook again (a major love) with adjustments for my limitations. I garden, granted it's in raised beds and not almost a half acre. I care for and train my animals (4 hens, 3 meat rabbits, Buddy the Angora, Belle the Guinea pig, 2 German Shepherds, and 2 cats who rule the roost.

I've gone back to my guiding principles of "Don't sweat the small stuff and it's all small stuff," and "Death is the absence of learning." In other words I'm getting to know the new adapted me. I've remembered that God is in control and while I'm waiting, I have a life to enjoy. It may not be the ideal life, but it's the only one I've got to live. I've found my balance again.

So when you think about all the things in your life, it's important to have balance in all things.

Nothing is impossible with determination.


  1. {{{{{hugs}}}}} You've found your balance and we're all richer because you share your journey.

  2. I always feel better when I read your words of encouragement. You amaze me!!

  3. Looking at your decubitus makes me feel for you. I've had several set-backs so I know the toll this recurrent problem has taken on you. Here's hoping you will get it fixed permanently.

  4. Dear Jo - you've had your fair share of balancing trials .. I admire you so much for keeping going ..

    With many thoughts - balance is such an essential ... means we're exercising all things - all the best -Hilary


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