Vic’s Addiction


I experienced some extremely comforting drugs in Neuro-ICU after surgery.

Dilaudid is a derivative of morphine. I distinctly recall asking for more of that. “Can you give me some more of that “D” stuff?” I couldn’t remember the name, but the sensation of sinking into a cloud of cotton  wowed and numbed me, which after days, or hours, or minutes, or even seconds, of struggling in my hallucinatory battles is right where I wanted to be.


Which is why I am addicted to Chapstick. The left side of my mouth and nose are always the tingly numb of post-dental-surgery. So my lips feel chapped when they are perfectly moisturized.

One hundred percent of the time.

There is a tube of Chapstick at every spot in the house I am apt to linger for over a minute.

I would patrol the house and count them, but I’d be embarrassed to provide you the actual number.

Oh. Only nine. Plus one in each vehicle and two in my purse.

I don’t have a secret hidden stash, but it might not be a bad idea.



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pedicure-shoe1“Mama is that lady drunk?”

The girl didn’t ask out loud, her wide eyes and worried brow said it for her.

It’s 9:00am on a sunny Tuesday. The nail salon is crowded with respectable females.

My nails were painted with a glossy coat of plum-purple. I clambered down off the elevated pedicure chair, struggling to keep both my balance and those flimsy pedicure flip flops on my feet.

The girl sat watching me with the same concerned awe she’d display watching a dangerous high-wire act. Soon, every eye in the place found me.

I shuffled and lurched toward the drying table, staggering like…. well…like a drunk.

In a room crammed with chattering women and girls—

I was the entertainment.

Desperately hoping to arrive at the drying table with pristine nails, I focused on maneuvering through the crush. I hazarded a glance at the girl’s mother, who briefly met my eyes; then found something fascinating on the floor. If you don’t acknowledge the drunk lady at the salon she’s not really there.

I finally plopped into the chair and sighed, bugged  by the scraped glob of half-dry polish on Lefty’s big toe.

My observant pedicurist saw my dismay and came to the rescue with polish remover and fresh double coat of polish. Pretty.

For years, I’ve been that weird middle aged white woman with dreadlocks.

Now, I guess I’m that strange drunk-ish white woman with dreads.

Just a minor change.

I can live with it.

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snafuWe all do it, the off-hand, “How ya doing?” We say it to loved-ones and complete strangers.

No one ever really answers question. The reply is most often the completely meaningless phrase, “I’m fine”.

When I’m asked,the answer I think silently is, “Snafu.”

Well it’s true. Situation normal all fucked-up. My normal is just a little bit different.

I usually tell people they expect to hear, “I’m okay.”

And I am.

Just imagine the indeterminate rambling reports I could issue in reply.

Because I’m polite, I will keep responding with. “I’m okay.”

But in my exhausted mind I’ll think:


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Maybe I should just grow some new ones

growing new armIt has taken five years to understand a few things about the “new” me.

The sole of my left foot is numb 99% of the time, meaning I can’t feel the ground beneath my foot which= HAZARD!  The other 1% of the time Lefty’s sole is ultra sensitive. A tiny rock in my shoe produces piercing pain which shoots all way up my leg and sears my brain.

Until Lida’s fingertips redevelop tactile feeling it will be difficult to grasp things in day to day activities.

I cannot hold what I cannot feel.

These short-circuited nerves will probably remain numb until something in my head clicks back into place. Perhaps electric stimulation therapy will improve the connection between my left extremities and my brain. No one really knows.

The numb bums and I are just hanging around trying new moves until we find out.
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conga line Bathing-beauties

Edgar Allen Poe said, ” Never to suffer would never to have been blessed.”

Confession time: I am one of those obnoxious optimists, the kind of person who methodically excavates and studies events in order to discover good in disaster. Here is a partial list of good things related to my stroke:

1. I skipped Menopause.

2. Realized I have an abundance of devoted friends who are enthusiastic in their efforts to keep me their lives. They invite me to events, pick me up, drive me home, and pretty much bring the party to me.

3. No one asks me to be the designated driver; nor do they frown when I have a second glass of wine.

4. I received a perpetual handicap parking placard, which I try to use thoughtfully. There are certainly other people do need it more than I do, but it is great during a thunderstorm.

5. I have met some incredible people in the medical community: former strangers who impacted my life ways they cannot imagine. They kept me alive and keep me living – which are two very different states of being.

6. I appreciate my family more than ever– they have infinite patience and an amazing abundance of loving support, support I never knew I’d require before my “Big Bang”.

Sometimes catastrophe rips bonds asunder. Sometimes it acts as emotional super glue.

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Obsession or Focus?


As the fifth anniversary of my brain aneurysm and subsequent stroke approaches, I wonder:
Do I dwell on this admittedly dramatic event and its impact on my life too much?
Or is this constant attention the reason my recovery flourishes? Considering each waking moment an opportunity for therapy and improvement, certainly keeps *Lida and *Lefty at the forefront of my consciousness.
I don’t believe I’m obsessed with my affected limbs. But I’m always aware. They feel weird and don’t work right.
I try to take special care of them with lots of stretching and mental focus. They rarely respond overtly to my ministrations, but this perpetual scrutiny has definitely resulted in subtle improvement.
The connections to my brain have been under construction for five years, but the roadblocks now have detours that eventually get messages to my fingers and toes.
 So I am a little preoccupied with my post stroke symptoms, but the key word here is “occupied”.
I’m busy.
 Ever since I tumbled into the Valley of the Shadow of Death, my goal has been to grow in the sun and thrive.
And for Lida to give Death the finger.
*Lida=Little dead arm.* Lefty= my goofy foot.
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Voodoo in the Twilight Zone

 chickenfoot1I celebrate the completion of even the most mundane task, especially when I manage to accomplish something in the most efficient, most logical manner. However, this orderly approach is rare.

I am prone to episodes of extreme disorganization: my shoes go on before my pants, etc.

But that was about to change.

Beaming with pride, I launched into some organized housework the other day. I had remembered to dust before tackling the floor! But…

 The mental scritch scritch scritch of dramatic Twilight Zone music froze me to a halt.

On a little shelf just above eye level sat the voodoo chicken foot that usually resides in the china cabinet  in my office, where everyone’s is kept.


You don’t?

Well, this particular chicken foot was a gift to my husband from our daughter. She had been to New Orleans and bought the talisman from the House of Voodoo. In the Fountain family gifts like this are signs of deep enduring love.

How did this gruesome mummified foot end up on the on a shelf in the dining room?

I didn’t recall putting it the there. But sometimes I can’t remember what I did five minutes ago.

Dust cloth in hand, I stared at the desiccated body part while my imagination ran wild.

The black and gold spray painted talons tap,tap,tapped on the China cabinet glass until the door creaked open. The foot dragged itself across the tile floor, then clawed its way up the wall, collapsing to rest on the dusty oak shelf where it lay in wait for my unsuspecting dust cloth.
No actual dusting occurred that day.

The floor did get vacuumed and mopped.

The foot is still there gathering new dust.

I don’t really want to touch it, even to put it away. Even though I’m relatively sure I placed it there to begin with.

I just don’t remember.
Posted in kids, stroke, stroke recovery, stroke survivor | 1 Comment