There is a theme in stroke recovery and that theme is ‘repetition.’ I say it all the time. But I think I say it too much. I think I’m giving the wrong impression. It’s easy for me to say that now, 3-years post-stroke, because that’s what I need to do. I need to do a crapload of repetitions. But that first year this was NOT the case. I don’t know when the right time is after a stroke to start exercising intensely and for long periods of time. I don’t know.
What I do know is this…..The importance of sleep and rest is EXTREMELY downplayed. Healing takes place in the brain when you are asleep. That’s when the brain recharges. The first year after my stroke, I was afraid to move – so I barely did. The first year, why I did this I have no idea because I very much wished I was dead, but that first year I would walk on my treadmill for an hour and a half to two hours every single day. This meant holding onto the handrails with a death grip but I did it. Don’t ask me what motivated me to do that because I have no clue. I’m serious, I was suicidal, I wished the stroke killed me. But it didn’t, it left me disabled. Walking on the treadmill would wipe me out for the rest of the day. That was it for me. Other than my treadmilling, I rested. I slept. A LOT. Max of 3 hours of activity a day. Then at 9 months post-stroke I started a practice of meditation and chanting. For nearly a year, everything I did in my yoga practice was sitting in a chair. There was very little physical movement. I sat in a chair, did meditations and breath work using very specific brain protocols. A little at a time, a very little at a time, I was able to do more and was less afraid of physical movement. The meditations and breath work rewired my brain without actually performing a specific movement. And also, I still slept and rested a lot. I got back into exercise very SLOWLY and with A LOT of rest.
Look, I’ve been through absolute hell so I have a WILDLY different perspective on things than other medical people. What I’m about to say I would not have said 3+ years ago. When you spend years and years in school to become a doctor or therapist it makes you have a certain air, an ego, an arrogance. I get it. I had it. I had it big-time. Every single doctor or therapist I’ve ever met has it to some degree. Some a little, some a lot. I had it, then I had something else. I had a stroke and those arrogant doctors not only didn’t help me, they made it worse. I did my own research and found my own ways to get “better.” That involved a hell of a lot of sleep and yoga. the real kind. It’s expensive and not covered by insurance(which is utterly ridiculous) so you have to pay out-of-pocket for it but the price is irrelevant to me, it gave me my life back. I now know things, a lot of things, about recovering from a brain injury. Again, I wouldn’t have said this 3 years ago but today I’ll say it – Why on earth would you take the advice of someone who hasn’t walked this path? The “experts” I saw gave me NO helpful advice. If I offended anyone with this post, then you’re gonna be offended.