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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Shatterproof

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.

Shatterproof.
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Obsession or Focus?

thrive

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.

What?

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.
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The Deadzone II

forgetfull tree 1Occasionally, friends and their children tumble into my deadzone. I only figure this out when it’s too late.

Should we be mid-conversation and a dullness glaze my eyes and my mouth cease its blather, please know I still care about you and our chitchat, but have momentarily darted into my brain cavity to operate the mega-watt searchlight, peering into the dark moldy folds of my mind in search of your name.

 I expect silence and the vacancy you encounter in my visage will signal my distress.

You can throw me a lifeline here. It usually just takes a little hint. Like pointing to yourself and saying, “Elizabeth.”

 Before your feelings get hurt, remember I am the person who sometimes can’t recall whether I have running water at my house.

And that hole in my head sucks up an amazing a number of random things, glasses, multiplication tables, appointments, past pain, and the day of the week.

 

I swim in muddy water.

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The Deadzone

empty head4 1/2 years post stroke, some friends and I were discussing floorplans, we had just toured a home where the front door opened directly into the living room.

In the car, Julie said, “I think a house needs a foyer or entryway of some sort.” I thought about what she’d said and agreed, then experienced the strangest most unsettling moment of complete blankness.

I scratched my embarrassingly empty head, “Does my house have one?”

My buddies giggled.

I asked “How do you get there from my kitchen?”  Giggles became nervous titters.

The fleeting image of a large piece of furniture slid through my mind.

I remained blank, blank blank, while Jayne patiently described walking from my kitchen though the dining area to reach my entryway.

I  groaned. It took what seemed a very long time to conjure an image of my entryway in my mind. My friends sat uncomfortably silent in the car as I searched the empty hole in my head.

It wasn’t until I walked into my front door that I actually remembered the entryway in my house.

” Oh yeah.”

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Super Sucky Post-Stroke Fatigue

hamster-wheels w charactersOf all the impairments brought on by my stroke: dead arm, distorted sense of time, cramped foot and leg and sorry math skills.

Fatigue is the most challenging. Even though I schedule a ritual  nap everyday, I have difficulty falling asleep.

I can be staggering with exhaustion but the incessant hamster wheel in my head whirls with centrifugal force.

I’ve worked out ways to compensate for most of my host stroke debilitations. But I can’t figure out how to compensate for zero energy.

I hold things with my feet or knees or whatever wedge I can find; I have a 3 foot wide clock on my living room wall; I walk with a hiking stick on rough on the services; I use the calculator on my phone to check all my mental ciphers.

I took sleeping medication for a long time. But a good eight- hour sleep only lasts until about 2:00 PM when I usually run completely out of juice.

Despite my dragging body and clouded mind, sleep is evasive. I lie there on my comfy bed in my quiet room willing myself to rest. That is about the time every single project or future project I have ever considered begins tapping on my mind’s shoulder. A fretful mind does not rest. This may sound like worrying, but I really don’t worry, I wish. Sometimes my desire for increased independence immobilizes me. Without rest there is limited energy for progress.

I guess the most independent part of me is the hamster in my head. She does whatever. She wants. She wants to run the wheel. Like the Energizer bunny she is unstoppable.

This issue is exponentially worse when I am working on a novel or other piece of writing because then all the fictional characters bring their own hamster wheels and set them up crowding the original hamster. They all race along suggesting plot twists and snappy dialogue to the point that I am more exhausted after a “nap” than before.

Something must be done to get me to the point illustrated below:

 

hamster wheel w sleeping cat

 

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