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25
Feb

Independence

When I first had my stroke, I was completely, 100% dependent on everyone around me for everything.  From financial stuff to taking showers and feeding me, someone had to basically do these things for me.  I never, ever, ever want to have that feeling again.  That’s partly why I think this article is such BS.  There are a lot of reasons why I think this research is crap but that’s one.  Only babies should need everyone to do everything for them, it doesn’t quite work with adults.  If I ever again am that dependent on someone else – I won’t be, I’ll make sure of it.

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20
Feb

Zombies

When I first had my stroke, and for a long time after, it was hard to turn my head to the left or right.  It made me really dizzy and it would take a few minutes to adjust to looking to the side.  So if I did it, I didn’t want to look straight ahead again because the same thing would happen.  I know every effect from a stroke is different but I think this might be the same for everyone that has just had a huge insult to the brain.  I remember being wheeled to the therapy room (I was the youngest by way) and everyone was sitting in a wheelchair staring straight ahead.  We were like zombies.  It was terrible, awful, horrible.  But that’s not a problem at all anymore.  Looking to the right or left is OK now.  Tilting my head, that’s another story, but turning it to either side is no big deal.  If I could walk then I’d have made a good zombie in that thing they do when they make a parade of zombies.

16
Feb

Sleep

I received the news yesterday that my sleep study was inconclusive.  Big shock there.  Hey doctors – if you want your patients to SLEEP during a sleep study maybe you shouldn’t test them in a hospital room with a hospital bed with a thin little blanket that makes the patient freeze their ass off.  Just a thought.

14
Feb

Spinal Tap

The doctors had no idea why I collapsed for a long time – too long.  They were going to give me a spinal tap.  My family was told you can’t have an MRI for 48 hours after a spinal tap.  So my mother said to the brilliant doctor “why don’t you do an MRI first?”  So they did.  Good thing, I’d probably be dead had they done what they were originally gonna do.  A spinal tap is performed to get some fluid out.  The fluid that surrounds your spinal cord is called cerebrospinal fluid, it’s what they extract in a spinal tap – then they can test that fluid for infection, etc.  Ok so, your spinal cord goes down to your second lumbar vertebrae,  then it stops.  But you have a bunch of nerves that keeps going down further.  This bunch of nerves is called the cauda equina.  Cauda equina means horse’s tail.  This bunch of nerves looks like a horse’s tail.  This is where they do a spinal tap because there’s no spinal cord there.  When the cauda equina has a problem, that’s a really bad thing.  It’s called Cauda Equina Syndrome.  I would always ask my patients who had low back pain “are you having any problems urinating, defecating, any numbness when you wipe after you use the bathroom?”  The cauda equina controls those things and if it is being pinched by a disc or something else that’s an emergency surgery situation.  If that’s happening, it needs to stop happening ASAP.  You can lose bowel and bladder control after a stroke, but it’s for an entirely different reason.

10
Feb

Happiness

There is some song, I forget what song, that has a line “I hate everything.”  My best friend in PT school said that should be my theme song.  Jeez, I must have been really unhappy then.  Yeah, I was.  I was incredibly unhappy in PT school.  And I stayed unhappy until the age of 30.  Then I had a massive stroke.  That certainly didn’t brighten my mood.  But being knocked down like that forced me to re-evaluate my life and purge it of things that didn’t make me feel really good about myself.   It took a while for me to do this but I did, I purged my life of all the fake stuff.  Now, I know who and what I want in my life and I make a point to have those people and things in my life.  If I don’t want to do something, I don’t do it.  I used to do all kinds of stuff that I didn’t really want to do because everyone around me wanted to and it seemed like the “normal” thing to do.  Well, not anymore.  I only do stuff that will make me feel good.  I wish everyone could learn this lesson but that won’t happen because in this culture we have certain images to uphold, so being disingenuous is generally accepted.  I will never be that way again.

7
Feb

Chairs

So something happened to me this weekend that I was none too thrilled about.  This older woman knocked on the door of my apartment and, not too nicely, told me not to park in a certain parking spot outside my apartment.  Now, this parking spot is ON A PUBLIC STREET.  She said to me “I’m an old lady and sometimes I have bags to carry.”  Yeah, well I have my own problems lady.  She also said “I thought you were an old lady that’s why I haven’t come to talk to you sooner.”  I tried to explain my situation but it didn’t faze her and she began to talk over me.  So I wrote her a letter.  It was a nice letter, being mean won’t help the situation, being mean and raising your voice won’t help any situation ever.  We’ll see how she responds….stay tuned to find out.

I talked this over with my therapist who helped me write the letter and she said “next thing you know there will be a chair there.”  Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are known for doing this.  I’m from Pittsburgh and have lived in Philly and in both places I have seen chairs placed on the street in order to reserve a parking spot.  Talk about weird.  It must be a Pennsylvania thing.  I have lived in a few other states and have never seen this.  Well I want to start a movement and change the meaning of the chair thing.  If a chair is on the street it will mean it’s to be picked up then in the summer I’m going to make a piece of artwork composed of all these chairs.

6
Feb

Stress

It’s true when you hear that stress is a killer.  I recently eliminated a very stressful situation from my life and I’m kind of amazed.  I’m doing things now that 3-4 months ago I couldn’t even come close to doing.  My physical problems have improved substantially since I eliminated all the stress I could from my life.  Now is not the time for me to deal with stress.  My only focus is recovery.  Stress will inhibit that greatly.  If you’re dealing with a lot of stress, eliminate it if you can, don’t try to make it better.  You’ll be amazed.

5
Feb

Death and Taxes

You know that saying the only certainties in life are death and taxes?  Well, the stroke didn’t kill me and I didn’t make any money last year so no taxes for me!  Soooo, ummm.  I don’t know.

4
Feb

Failure

When you’re exercising, your muscles get tired.  They can get tired so that they’re fatigued or you can work them so hard that they don’t work anymore.  Well, they don’t work for a brief time.  This is called muscle failure.  It’s what you want.  That’s how you build strength in a muscle.  You take your muscles to failure.  Most people think you don’t want to do this, that it’s bad for a muscle to work it so hard that it stops working.  Nope, you wanna do that.  When you’re doing squats and you feel like you just can’t do another one because your legs don’t work anymore – you want to feel like that.  Don’t worry, your muscles will work again in about 30 seconds.  They’ll be really sore the next day or two but if you’re anything like me, you kinda like that feeling.  Same thing goes for after a stroke, you have a lot of retraining muscles to do, take them to failure.  Failure