Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sunday Stroke Survival: What Are Your Fears?

Are you afraid you'll stay impaired for the rest of your life? I just past my 5th anniversary living post stroke.  I can tell you honestly, that the thought has crossed my mind quite a few times over the years.

If I'd had my way the recovery process would have taken a couple of months. I imagine this is true for most stroke survivors. In my case, I was making great strides towards just weakness rather than paralysis for the first couple months. If strength of will was needed I would have succeeded. Unfortunately after the first two months an injury occurred stopping most forward progress on my right upper limb. Then, within six months another stroke set me back to square one in my recovery and took some other things with it like my reading comprehension. Plus the high tone that was present with the first stroke became the dreaded, constant spasticity.

 But looking back over the past five years, I haven't lived my life in a vacuum waiting for my recovery. There have been many times over the years that I have had fears; both great and small. Who doesn't, right? Everyone has had periods of being fearful. I'm no different, although I don't focus on them as many do, but look up to my Heavenly Father for relief. I don't focus on what might happen or never happen.

When you are afraid, where does your focus lie? When you are a child, you ran for comfort to your parents. But where do you go now that you are an adult? I can no longer run to my earthly father. He loses ground on his earthly toe hold daily. I run to my biggest, baddest Daddy anywhere...God. But still the thought still nags at the edges of my consciousness after five years... will I be like this the rest of my life?

Truthfully, I hope not. But it sure looks that way from where I'm sitting. All the gains I make with the Botox and the dry needling is one step forward and two backwards. It gets really frustrating and tiring. I'm constantly in battle mode against my spasticity and weakness/paralysis. I'm still trying to get to the larger steps forward and smaller steps back stage. I am beginning to doubt and waver. Is this a fight I can't win? I've never had one of those before. Yeah, I've done my fair share of adaption and compromises. I consider those a win because I do get what I'm working towards. I'm thankful for even partial wins.

My solution...
As I said before, I'm not living my post stroke life in a vacuum. I attempt something new every day. I used to say learn something new every day, but I'm still in the relearning stage. Part of me fears that I'll be in this stage forever. After a stroke, there's too much to relearn. It all takes hard work and almost daily reeducation just to keep my mind working properly. Ah heck, my mind has always had quirks that enabled me to be creative in all ways. Just never this huge of a quirk to overcome.

Alive, awake, aware, active
I found this "Truth Time" clock on the internet. I found it to be an excellent example of living post stroke. On the quarter hour are the words: Alive! Awake, Aware, Active. First of all, as survivors, we are alive! Our stroke didn't kill us. Some of us wish that it had. I know that feeling, but it didn't.

Awake appears next going clockwise. Get it, clock wise. Your brain just had a big insult happen to it. Wakey, wakey time and shake it up. Nothing is worse than wasting brain power. Granted we have less brain cells than we did before, but the average person is purported to use less than 10% of their brains so we killed off a few thousand cells, we still have 90% that we never used before. Okay, it's like 75% left in my case, but still time to wake it up and use it. We're alive!

So it's on to the next quarter, Aware. Because we are impaired both mentally and physically, we always have to be aware of everything. Our surroundings so we don't hurt ourselves. HAHA! This doesn't work for me to well. Aware of what's going around us. If we just lay around feeling sorry for ourselves we miss out on life. We are alive!

The last quarter is Active. You remember the old saying; "if you don't use it you lose it?" So you are paralyzed. You can't talk right. You're brain damaged! Accept it and go on. Nothing will never be the same ever again even with full recovery because there will always be an again. You have PT exercises to regain the use of useless  limbs. These exercises also exercise your brain too. Make your brain do jumping jacks. Play hopscotch over those damaged areas. Each day I push myself against my limits. I may fail today to accomplish it but there is always tomorrow. Make your brain figure out how to do those things that you really want to do. Get creative. This exercises your brain also. Don't live on the pity pot. Self pity can be an morbidly obese, lazy way out if you over feed it. Allow yourself moments. Set an alarm to time it. When the alarm goes off, get active. We are alive!

You have fears. That's understandable. Strokes or any life changing event can bring them to a head. I just had one of those crazy images pop into my head when I typed the previous line. I pictured a zit. So when you have a zit comes to a head, what do you do for it? Pop it. Realize that the fear stems from a problem or perceived problem. Face it. It might happen. In my case, I will be like this forever and not recover from my strokes. So my attitude is to live each day the best I can. Will I have good days and bad or horrible days? Yep!  Am I limited in what I can accomplish? Yep! But if I don't figure out how to do it, it's my fault! Sure there are some things that would be easier to do with two working arms or legs, but I'm not the only one on earth facing this issue. Just like everyone else on earth. So is it really so different? Fears are fears. My question is what are you going to do to resolve them? Things my be difficult, BUT...

Nothing is impossible.





1 comment:

Zan Marie said...

{{{{hugs}}}} Your clock is good for all, regardless of whether you've had a stroke.