Tomorrow is the second anniversary of my stroke. I remember how people reacted when I told them I had one. My friends commented on how pleased they felt about my progress - regardless of where they met me in the process. (Thank you. Your words were so important to me!)
Didn't Know How Bad I Looked
I didn't realize how bad I looked until I viewed a video someone took of me about a month out. Ouch. That interesting looking person was me! The video looked a lot worse than I expected. Thank goodness I didn't watch it for a year. Perhaps it's better not to know what you look like up front.
Instead, I looked at how I needed to take one step at a time. Slowly, surely I worked on learning to be upright. Then I learned to walk, to talk, and to hear people as they spoke while there were competing with supplementary noises... including other folks. I had planned to reach 100% by year one. Aphasia had a different timeline in mind. My right side had a different timeline as well. But by year two, I was pretty close. Now, when I see someone I haven't ever met, they are surprised that I even had a stroke unless I am aphasiac at the time.
Sometimes a slight misstep turns you in a different direction. Last Thursday the great outdoors called to me. The sun glowed warmly and the breeze carried the sweet scent of flowers. The trees bloomed from bright white pear to deep pink cherries. The day had come. I was going to jog again! As I neared the halfway point I remember feeling the wind brushing through my hair and thinking how good it felt. The next minute... well, I was headed down hard. One misstep on the pavement led to a big blowout in the grass.
I got up and tried to move my arm. No go. I had dislocated my right elbow. The same elbow I dislocated 39 years ago when my horse shied away from a car as it raised a dust stream two miles away. I remembered what it was like running after my horse, walking him home, and yelling to Mom so he could be put away. I also remembered the pain. "Oh no!" I thought. "Please, don let that pain come back!" I nearly wanted to cut off my arm that day.
Discouraged, I started walking home. Then I remembered I had a phone in my hand. Thank goodness for technology! I called and asked my knight with a silver convertible to come get me and take me to the emergency room. We were in and out in 2-1/2 hours. The pain felt tolerable for the most part. I felt grateful when we left for home.
Humility. Gratitude. Loved.
Over the past few days I have been wondering about the lesson I received Thursday night. It comes down to three things.
I am humbled that it wasn't another stroke. (I didn't think about it until the docs put me through the test in the ER.)
I am grateful that it is a dislocated elbow (because I know the difference between a brain injury and stroke rehabilitation).
Most of all, I am thankful to be loved.
It might take me a bit longer to make my objective, but goals I had after my stroke are very clear. I want to make non-profits that have too much turnover learn how to thrive. That is my purpose in life. What's yours?