I had my stroke on March 7, 2011. For the first few months, I would say 4 months, I didn’t understand the severity of what had happened to me. I was just in hell. I cannot be held responsible for anything that I said or did during this time. I had just had a massive brain injury and my brain was not working right. I try to use that excuse now, but I can be held accountable for what I say and do now. I just get in these bad moods sometimes where I hate everything, I hate everyone, and no one can say anything to me or do anything for me to make me feel better. It’s getting better though, these terrible moods only happen a couple times a month now as opposed to every few days. It’s OK, my mom absorbs it pretty well. During this time, I remember thinking that I would be all better within a few months – not so when you have a stroke. At month 5, everything “hit me” and I realized I’m going to have limitations for a long time, maybe for the rest of my life. At 9 months, I started to feel like myself again on the inside. I felt like myself – just a little slower talking and walking. At one year, things got better. I used to tell my patients that after a surgery there is going to be inflammation in the joint for about a year so any weird feeling can most likely be attributed to that. That is what I was told after I had brain surgery and it’s definitely true because I could tell a difference at around that time. All the inflammation in my skull was gone and things got a little better – not much – but somewhat better. Now, a year and three months post, I feel OK most of the time. I have accepted a lot of things about myself, about others, about my limitations, etc. There are certain things that can get me really down but for the most part it’s OK.
My friend just hired a personal trainer to help him lose weight and it spawned an idea for a blog post. I always told my patients that it’s a heck of a lot more important what you do at home and work all day, every day than what I can do with you in here 2-3 hours a week. No therapist can fix you in a few hours a week. If you know of someone that can, please introduce me. I could educate them and guide them, but it was up to them to do the stuff at home. The same is true for my friend right now and the same is true when it comes to stroke recovery. Don’t just rely on your therapy sessions then come home and do nothing. That’s a bad thing. That will get you nowhere. It’s horrible and sometimes, actually a lot of the time, you probably won’t want to do anything but don’t do that. I know right now it’s difficult and you might look funny and sound funny like I do, but if you’re motivated to get better you have to make yourself do a whole bunch of stuff you don’t want to do. It gets better in time. It takes a lot of practice to rewire the brain and you can’t do that in a few hours a week. Read this
- A Guide to Stroke Rehabilitation (handtutorblog.wordpress.com)
Apparently, I like to write about walking. I guess I’m just really happy that I can walk. Earlier I went on a walk with my friend to a track. This track had lines drawn on it to separate the lanes. I had a heck of a time staying in one lane. It was really hard to stay within the lines. My body kept wanting to drift to the right as I walked around the track. I can explain why this is – or I’ll give it my best shot. My stroke mostly affected my right cerebellum. This caused issues on the right side of my body. After a stroke, sometimes the patient develops something called Pusher Syndrome. This develops because usually a stroke patient’s sense of being upright is all messed up. So they “push” more strongly with the stronger side in an effort to right themselves. Sooo, this patient will lean/list/whatever to the weaker side! It’s a weird phenomenon. This site says therapists may be causing it to happen – scary.
My gynecologist wants me to get a mammogram because my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 32. She survived. If I have breast cancer, God really hates me.
After I had my stroke, I couldn’t do a lot of things. Stupid little things that you wouldn’t even think about but I couldn’t do them. One thing is cracking my knuckles. I was always a big knuckle cracker. When I was growing up, I had a piano teacher that would get really mad whenever she saw me crack my knuckles. The knuckles on her fingers were huge and swollen to the point that she couldn’t take her rings off. She said this was because of cracking her knuckles a lot when she was younger. Later I became a physical therapist. My piano teacher was dead wrong. Cracking knuckles is no big deal. Whatever made her joints swell up it wasn’t from knuckle cracking. Anyway, I digress. 🙂 After the stroke I couldn’t crack my knuckles. I just physically couldn’t do that motion. This lasted for a year I think. Now I can crack my knuckles easily. Every one of them! After the stroke, I could do NOTHING with my right hand. The action of touching your thumb to every fingertip is called opposition. Couldn’t do that for a long time. I can do it easily now. Well, not easily. Maybe the word ‘easily’ is a little ambitious. I couldn’t drum my fingers on my right hand – I can now. I haven’t tried to write recently, I wonder what that would look like. Last night I went to an arts festival and this lady asked us if she could analyze my handwriting. I should have done it just to see what she would say. I use scissors now with my right hand! Maybe I shouldn’t do that, oh well! Now when I use my right hand to scratch my left arm it’s a natural thing that I don’t have to think about. I used to have to force myself to do stuff like that. I don’t have to force myself to use my right hand anymore.
I’ll say it again….I was very, very ,very lucky in that I could walk shortly after I stroked. Some people can’t walk for a long, long time – or ever. So whenever I walk, downward slopes are MUCH harder. This was always the case for orthopedic injuries too. After a total knee replacement, going down steps is always a lot harder for people than going up. There is a reason for this physiologically which I won’t bore you with (it has to do with the way the muscles work when going down) and I’m assuming that reason is the same with my weak muscles now. I don’t know if anything else is going on neurologically that would make it harder to go down. I don’t think so. When I came home from the hospital, I took a lot of walks outside. I have really awesome neighbors, just thought I’d throw that in there. Anyway, on our street there is a slope, that’s all it is – the road is slightly sloped. Well, for a long time that slope felt like a mountain to me. Whoever was walking with me would walk backwards in front of me down the slope in case I fell. This is not the case anymore. Going down is still harder but I don’t need to be guarded on my way down, and it certainly doesn’t feel like a mountain anymore. It feels like the road is sloped and it’s harder to go down.