Ok. It’s been several months since I posted an update about where I’m at physically and mentally since the stroke for those who might be interested. Thanksgiving Day will mark one year since my stroke. As I shared recently in a different article, it’s been kinda rough looking forward to the holidays with all the negative memories attached to them now. I have hopes that maybe next year will feel better.
I’m not really sure where to start…. I read what I wrote back in February, my last public update on FB, and it all sounds so positive and hopeful. That was how I was feeling then. However, reality has settled in a little bit more since that time. When I look back to the first few months, I made a lot of physical steps forward, but back then that’s where my whole focus was with speech, occupational, and physical therapy several times a week. I was pushing myself then, and I only had those things to accomplish and keep up with. Since graduating, real life has been happening and with that came the realization of things being different on the inside. Some of it scrambled. Some lost. Some still intact, albeit damaged, but able to be relearned. It took a bit to come to terms with losing parts of ‘me’, and being less than I was, but I’d already given up ‘me’ to the Lord a long time ago, so the transition to acceptance for me was maybe a little easier than for some others.
With that said, there’ve been a few physical setbacks that have kept me from progressing as much as I’d like. I was battling insomnia much for many months. It’s very hard for the body to heal when it’s not getting enough sleep. It makes it harder to walk and talk and feel any sort of confidence when so very tired (which is true even for normal people, let alone strokies). 😴 However, I’m finding out sleep problems are common for stroke and brain injury patients. Thankfully, I’ve been sleeping better for a month or so now -ever since its cooled off enough and I can get back out and walk a third of a mile or so every day (slowly building up to more). Am looking to the Lord to provide some sort of exercise machine for this winter when it gets too cold to walk in another month or so.
I’m also still dealing with the neuropathy and numbness/tingling/coldness on my left side. This too was an effect of the stroke, as I’ve come to find out through research and listening to others. It’s semi-common, actually. This is not diabetic neuropathy, but something that occurred in my brain. People who have this problem after a stroke can find little relief for pain. I’ve found a couple herbs that help a little bit, and I’m thankful for the lil bit. At times my weakened right stroke side actually functions better than my left (neuropathy) side.
Then too, my right stroke leg, which was also my bad knee leg before the stroke, has “woken up” and been up to its old tricks and causing a certain amount of spasticity issues (spasming and seizing up). It’s especially bad when I’m having to stand still for a long time. (So if I get antsy and seem distracted when we’re talking… It’s me needing to sit down and not something you’re doing wrong). Was going to a massage therapist for a while which helped, but was too expensive to keep going. Am still working on trigger points though and seeing at least a little headway being made there. Shoe inserts have helped somewhat too.
I still have balance issues. Everyone compliments me on how well I’m walking now, but I rarely feel very steady on the inside. Mostly I feel wobbly like a toddler. If either (or both) my legs would ease up, that would change, I think. I’m no longer using a walker at all during the day; only at night when I wake to go to the bathroom and am groggy. Have to admit, I’m glad to be done with the walker. It served its purpose and I’m thankful to have had it for several months, but it was beginning to feel a bit like a ball and chain. 😛 I use a cane out in public and when people (like the grandkids and their toys 😉 ) are around, but i do also often go moderate stretches walking around the house by myself without any assistance when my leg/s are feeling up to it.
Cognitively, I’m beginning to realize if I don’t exercise my brain, I lose ground there. That’s why I’m writing this even though it’s long and hardly anyone will read it (if you got this far, let me know so I can shake your hand lol). Writing on fb and the Jordan’s Crossing blog has helped my brain much, I think. But while, I seem almost normal on paper, and pretty much normal to others when they look-at/interact-with me, I still have mental deficits that can’t be seen from the outside.
It may sound crazy, but sometimes, as others with brain injuries will attest to, it would be easier to have some outward sign of trauma. I’ve thought maybe I should get a t-shirt that says, ‘I had a stroke, and I’m okay, but be gentle with me.’ If you go too fast, or don’t let me go slow, I get lost and feel frozen in place and stuck there. My mind is pretty muddy and foggy much of the time. I get overwhelmed easily by too many things happening at once, and having to sort thru too many steps. Very hard to think through things or explain things and land on conclusions (I often feel like the museum curator on ‘Night at the Museum’ who can’t finish his sentences.🗿) Lots of people, big areas, new experiences, deep conversations, and too much ‘puter, leave me tired and drained. I still do these things, cuz I need them; and it’s getting better as I get more sleep. I have hopes, based on the testimony of other stroke patients that it will continue to heal and improve.
My speech still feels slow and stuttery to me, most especially when I’m tired. Though I can tell it’s improved much from the initial stages where I was monotone. And while before the stroke I wasn’t loud by any means, and I’m still even more soft spoken than I was pre-stroke, I can now at least yell at the dog and grandkids again with some energy. 😍 Lol.
When I look at things from a day to day standpoint, it’s hard to see the improvements and easy to get bogged down in where I’m not at yet, but when I step back and look at the whole year, I see much progress from when I first came home and was so so very weak. So, this is encouraging. 😊 Yes, there’s still farther to go and things to improve on, but then isn’t that always true? In everything? No matter who it is or what difficulty they’re facing in their personal life? (And we’re all facing trials and hardships in one way or another).
Life’s very different after a stroke, yes, but much at the core is really still the same. Helps so much to see that and live there, and be okay with the challenges of my new (and slowly improving) life. Sure beats living in the bitterness of wishing for things to be as they were, and looking at others through eyes of depression and anger. That’s admittedly a hard stage to pass through (I don’t want to downplay the hardship or make it seem I never went thru my time of this), but I see I mustn’t take root there. More than that, Jesus won’t let me. Gotta keep pressing forward….inch by inch, if needs be.