Sunday, December 27, 2015

Who knew tying a bow would be difficult?

Well, here we are two days after Christmas Day, still alive and kicking through all the holiday hubbub. The fact that I have not posted here for two full weeks is some indication of how far behind I feel in many ways! My plan was to post once or twice a week, which was perhaps a bit too ambitious for my current energy level during a holiday season, but better late than never, right? Ok. So, here is what has been going on here during weeks five and six post-stroke.

First, let me say that the organization has been an amazing lifeline to me. Through talking with others who have experienced strokes of various kinds and with every level of outcome, I have been greatly encouraged. Some days are just harder than others and being able to chat with folks who have similar experiences makes me feel like less of a weirdo and reaffirms that I am getting better all the time.

One of my amazing discoveries these last two weeks has been how many things I have always done on "auto-pilot", but now must re-learn from scratch. For example, I decided that wearing my running shoes would probably provide more support to my left foot and help me  to avoid  turning that ankle. Stability, or rather the lack thereof, in my left foot and ankle is an issue because I can't feel anything there yet. That numbness would make it very easy for me to injure myself without realizing it. Well, what I had not considered until I was right there putting on my shoes was that I couldn't remember how to tie a bow! I could tie a knot just fine, but the bow completely eluded me. Fortunately a dear friend was here t the time and walked me through it several times unail I do it myself...until the next time I tried, and had already forgotten again. Enter: Youtube! A quick search brought me to a video of a Mom teaching children to tie their shoes. Yay! So back to kindergarten I went and tied my shoes about twenty times u til I was sure I had it this time. No dice. Round three found me on the edge of the bed with my for propped on the seat of my walker and that Youtube video playing right next to me. Voila! You would have thought I had won the lottery by the way I whooped and hollered! My Mom reminded me to celebrate every victory, no matter how small...though I considered being able to put on my own shoes to be kind of a big deal. (Thanks, Mom!)

Another victory came in the form of a large spring-clip barrette for my hair. This might seem miniscule, but if you have ever tried to put long hair in a ponytail with one hand refusing to cooperate with twisting a run berband, you now what I'm talking about! I briefly considered just having it cut short, but that seemed a bit drastic. Ever fear, barrettes are here! I can get all my hair pulled into it and clip it with my right hand! No more hair hanging in my face anymore. Another small/huge victory! Fingernail clippers are a whole different story that I won't even go into for fear of stressing myself out just thinking about it and causing myself another stroke.

Just before Christmas I actually finished the crocheted bedspread I had been working
on for over a year. This is actually a miracle of sorts not only because I go at the pace of a snail on queludes, but because I realized suddenly that I couldn't remember what the stitch symbols meant even if my life depended on it! Ugh. So I read the worded pattern over and over while I looked at the portion I had already done until I figured out how to proceed. What usually would have taken me one day to finish instead took me two weeks...but it's done!

Most people tell me they can't tell by my speech that anything happened to me, and I am so grateful for that. I notice the difference because I have to think so much when I'm speaking, to make sure what I'm saying makes sense. Now and then a completely incorrect word jumps out of my mouth before I can catch it, such as saying "Have a great evening" when I MEANT to say, "Have a good morning", etc. Or just losing a word or phrase THAT gets frustrating. I changed my passwords on every computer-related account I have and kept a list of them because I couldn't remember any of the old ones. I even scrambled my own email address, though I have used that same address for over six years! I have become the Queen Of Cheat Sheets, and my kingdom is ruled by reminders to  heck my reminders bout the reminders that tell me what I am supposed to be doing at any given time.

One reminder recently kept me on track to wrap Christmas gifts! Forget the fancy
shmancy bows and such, I was doing well to get some paper onto them and a name tag so each goes to the correct recipient. Scott was immensely helpful, making sure all the paper, tape, scissors, etc were in easy reach and reminding me to stop when I started to appear tired. Honestly, I don't know what I would do without him. Not just for physically helping me with things I really can't do yet, but reassuring me when I feel frustrated. It is hard some times to separate the facts of reality from my emotions. I know that I am not a stupid person, but when I have trouble tying my shoes, re-capping  the toothpaste, or pouring water into a glass it is easy to feel like the first prize winner of the Dunce Award.

Meanwhile, I have finished one adult coloring page and Scott gave me a new set of coloring postcards in garden themes! Not just for the kiddos anymore, I have discovered the amazing hobby of coloring in books designed for adults. Some are far too detailed and definitely beyond my coordination just yet, but it is very good for relieving stress and helping me to see a project through to completion. The post cards also fit perfectly with my desire to send frequent handwritten notes to loved ones!

Now if anyone is interested in the techie stuff, I am seeing improvement in my left arm and hand. Coordination has improved and it only curls up tight when I get really tired. I have a great deal more strength than I did six weeks ago, though I still avoid holding anything in my left hand that would be a problem if dropped. My leg is coming along a bit slower but there is improvement there, too. I have an ankle brace that holds my foot close to a 90 degree angle so my toes don't drag when I walk. This makes it much less tiring to get around and saves my ankle and knee from possible injury. My energy level is still below the basement. I am told this is normal, as it takes six months just for the brain to heal and inflammation to subside. Hence, naps have been commonplace and I often sleep twelve hours a day or more. Headaches are also a constant norm, but if I pay attention and rest when I need to they don't always become severe. My vision is still a major adjustment. Lack of depth perception is always disconcerting and results in my bumping into things quite easily as I learn to judge distances. I can read for short periods of time without triggering a new headache, so I save up "eyeball energy" when I want to read before bed.

If I seem to have moved to Hermitville USA, you are at least partly correct. Loud noises, lots of movement, crowds, fluorescent lights, multiple people talking at once, are all a recipe for an anxiety meltdown for me. The healthy human brain can only process a certain amount of input at any one injured human brain can process far less, so sensory overload sets in quite quickly. No one should feel slighted or as if I am uninterested if I decline an invitation of any sort, as I am just trying to engage in activities that work for me and avoid those that don't. Hanging out with a friend for a while might be just fine for me, while visiting with a group where there is also music in the background and lots of moving around might send me right into a tailspin. One thing I have learned is that things that are overwhelming today might be okay next week, so I take it slow and give my brain time and space to heal.

That's about it in a nutshell! If we happen to meet, my shoes might be untied, I still can't get my earrings back in, and I may have forgotten exactly why we were meeting in the first place! But in the words of my brother Sonny, I am a Perencevic...and "Perencevics don't break, we bounce!". Some days feel like treading water and barely keeping my chin above the waves, while other days are more positive. Seems like the ebb and flow of the tides, controlled by a very fickle moon.

I appreciate your comments and emails, so please feel free to say hello before you go! And always remember:

                  "The sky is NOT the limit...there are footprints                                                on the moon."

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