Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sunday Stroke Survival: If At First You Don't Succeed...

You all know the old saying, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Doesn't it ring true in spades living post stroke? I know it does for me. First attempts are often failures. Sometimes I get lucky and I actually get it right the first time, but not often.

I picked the Confucius quote to emphasize why you should keep trying. I know, I know. You once mastered the skills you are trying to learn again, just like me. I have an issue with comparing what I do now with what I could do before my stroke. I'm constantly telling myself to STOP THAT, but the memory still creeps in.  My goal should be to unlock the door to personal excellence now living post stroke.

As teenagers taking driver's ed, we were taught stop, look, listen. Yes, I know I just aged myself yet again. As if my fast approaching birthday wasn't reminder enough. Anyhow, the same applies in this situation.

STOP- beating yourself up with comparing what you could do before your stroke to after. The fact is that is the past and this is today. You can only go forward from this point in time. Sometimes, you are your own worse enemy. I'm very guilty of this. Kicking yourself is detrimental to any successful outcome.This applies to anytime you are sitting on the self pity pot too.

LOOK- you have conquered so much already. I always say to think retrospectively. Think back to when the world as you knew it ended. The first week after your stroke. You can substitute any personal disaster you like here as it pertains to your situation. Was the effort you made a total failure even though you tried hard? Probably not. You succeeded in trying something you hadn't done since your stroke. With each successive attempt, you will notice improvement in a relearned skill.

Who really cares if you can't remember a word and you tell the listening party, "this isn't the right word but." You are communicating with another living soul. That's what counts. With my daughter's aphasia she would describe what the word was that she was trying to say when talking to others. "It's yellow, long, a fruit, monkeys eat it. As the listener, you tell her "a banana?" She would respond, "Yeah, that's it!" and go on with what she was originally talking about. For me and my aphasia it's, "This is not the right word but" and go on with what I was saying. I'm just thankful that I can talk with someone else again. Listening is an important skill. As the survivor, you relearn syntax and absorb new ways of learning/relearning by listening. Granted in the beginning, it's OTs, PTs, and speech therapists you are listening to.

You hear that Jo? Are you listening as well as typing? If not reinforced by the mere writing of these words, I'll hammer them into my psyche during the umpteen editing passes where I'll read this a dozen times before publishing it.

"Thanks, Jo. I needed to remind myself to stop, look, and listen more."
"You are welcome." <grinning>

Nothing is impossible.

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