Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sunday Stroke Survival ~ Wake Up and Smell the Coffee!

Watch out for obstacles.
Watch out for cars.
Watch your p's and q's.
Wake up and smell the coffee!

I could go on forever with these, but I'll stop with these.

What am I getting at? Warnings? No, these are all things you should be mindful of. How many times did your mother utter the second one? Every time you went outside when you were younger. When did she stop? When she felt that you would do it automatically or became a habit to do so.

creditAfter a stroke, there are so many things to be mindful of. How you rise from a chair. How you look at you feet to ensure proper placement before you set off walking. While you are walking, all the rough or uneven patches where you place your step. Why do you do this? Doh! So you don't end up falling or tripping. It is more easier to be mindful of things that can make you fall and get around it than picking yourself up off the ground.

If I had to make a list of everything I had to watch out for, I'd never get anything done. But then again, it's been almost three years since my stroke. Most have become habit and I do it automatically. But in the beginning that was not the case.

I mentioned once a long time ago, how I take a step in walking with one leg cursed with high tone and spasticity. I lost the movement of my hamstring so it was realizing to my new body mechanics worked. I found that if I squeezed my butt cheeks together I could engage my hamstring to bend my knee. Even now, I'll squeeze my right cheek before I lift my leg to bend my knee except I no longer think of the action before I do it. So I'm actually walking via my gluteal muscle rather than my thigh or calf muscles. Well, that's not entirely true, but I have to use my gluteal muscle to get the other muscles to work. This is because my brain still fires on all cylinders to my butt but not necessarily to my thigh and calf without setting into Clonus (tremor pattern of misfiring neurons).

So when does mindful behavior move from something you have to think through step by step? This takes time and practice. How long depends on you as with everything in your recovery process does. More than likely, one day it will dawn on you that you aren't having to be mindful about your new body mechanics. You may even greet it with some surprise when you realize it. I know I did.

Mindfulness is being cognitive of the present. Everything around you and in you. This can be from a safety standpoint to a spiritual one, and everything in between. Do I ever drift off to la-la land and just forget being mindful? Yep. Those are the times when I do or almost fall. Something will jerk me back into mindful mode with a quickness or I'll have to pay the consequences of drifting off to la-la land.

So for today, be mindful of you surroundings and you might be surprised at what you see. Maybe it is someone you see in a different light. Maybe it's a Cardinal singing a song outside. Maybe it's just listening to your breathing and heartbeat. The thing about mindfulness is that it can be whatever you want it to be. It's just your awareness. So what do you see?

Nothing is impossible with determination.


  1. I am independent but I am slow. Being mindful of all the things you talked about divides my attention. Stroke survivors tune people out, but not always for the reasons able-bodied people assume.

  2. Rebecca,
    It takes a lot of concentration to do what we do every day. If someone thinks I'm stuck up for not talking to them while I'm focused, then they have a personal problem that I don't have to deal with.

  3. {{{hugs}}} for the day and the realization. :-)


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