Sunday, March 25, 2018

Sunday Stroke Survival: If All Else Fails, Punt

I know football season is over for another year, and punting a football is nigh on impossible living post stroke, but if the shoe fits you wear it. Hmm, wonder if I fit enough clinches in the first line? I also said the no-no word "impossible."<grin>

Jo, are you feeling okay? Actually, I'm fine and dandy so put your mind at rest. I just get frustrated at times and that's what this blog is about...working through frustration.

Everyone gets frustrated from time to time. But, as a stroke survivor, it seems to happen more frequently over the littlest stuff. Mainly, you are trying to  do something that should be second nature to you you've done it for so long before your stroke. Like walking or going to the bathroom, but all of that went out the window after your brain fart. Actually it's known as a brain infarct, but it's the many times where you go, "Oops, that didn't work right," and PFFT, it's gone." Thoughts evaporated just like the knowledge was never there.

Normally, before your stroke, you chocked it up to being busy or having too many irons in the fire. God forbid, you give age credit for these mishaps especially if you're under 50 to old fart's disease or CRAFT. You can blame it on old fart's disease, if your over 50. But now, after your stroke, it happens all the time and it gets frustrating to live with.

I often repeat what Thomas Edison says about creating the light bulb here.  You don't think he got frustrated a few times during this process? I'll bet he did. There are plenty of times along this living post stroke journey that I've looked at this and said, Edison was a braver man than me. But then, I realize he only tried 10,001 ways, I'm well above that number in attempts to walk unaided by my AFO or cane, and regaining use of my arm in almost six years of living post stroke. I still haven't found that one successful way of making them work like they are supposed to, but I haven't quit yet either.

Do you ever just get tired of adapting and just want to do? Oh, yeah! It takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to have to adapt everything to get anything done. I've always taken pride in my adaptability. I was able to turn on a dime to figure out a way to do something. With the starvation and blood killing off millions of brain cells, even my turns now take a minimum of three points to make a turn (physically and mentally). But, I thank God for this adaptability trait every single day. It allows me to still follow my dreams (more on this in a future post). In other words, I fall back and punt. Going with Plan B, is never anyone's first choice or it wouldn't be Plan B, would it? Even if it takes Plan C,D, or even F to get where you want to be, isn't it worth it? Whenever you strive for something more, there will be frustration. Think of it as a stretched Newton's Law of Relativity.

The thing that balances the frustration-doing point is desire. You have to want to do it. Edison wanted to create the light bulb. It didn't matter how many attempt it took him to him. He had the desire to do. So what are you that passionate about?

Coping strategies
  • Those passionate things would be the things to focus on first. Count each little success until you achieve the big one. It takes a lot of dominoes to make a chain reaction of them falling in sequence. 
  • Pick several passionate things to achieve. Work at each one. When one things gets too overwhelming or frustrating switch to another.
  •  Give yourself some wiggle room and plenty of pats on the back along the way. 
  • Look at things often retrospectively to see progress is being made. 
The comparison may surprise even you. The first time I used a knife after my stroke was awkward  and ineffective, but now I can cut anything. I just kept trying. Most times now, my fancy Swedish adaptive cutting board never gets used. Sure, the cuts aren't straight my cubes are even, but I get the job done with little effort. Retrospective vision is often overlooked. Don't do that! Allow yourself to give yourself pats on the back frequently because you've worked hard for them. Remember, if it were easy there would be no frustration.

Nothing is impossible.


  1. Yes, looking back into the close-past is lots more helpful than looking at the long-past. Obviously, pre-stroke, I could do virtually everything I tried.

    Immediately after the stroke, though, I couldn't even sit on the edge of my bed without falling off. Sitting on the edge of the bed is now an important part of my daily routine, my coffee-drinking pose; every morning I sit there now, I glory in it, grateful that I can hang my legs over the side and drink my coffee, nearly always spill-free. Wonderful way to start every day.

    1. I don't drink coffee so I'll tske your word for it.


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