Reflections on the past 3 years
Monday, October 31, 2016
This has been an up and down past few days for me. The bad and the good of the last 3 years have gone through my head. I'm going to start with the negative, and then end with the blessings I've experienced because I want to end on a positive note. This is not for pity, but just to process what's been going on inside my head the past few days, including today.
It was just 3 years ago today that I got up early, before daylight, and went for a walk like I usually did. Then I went home, got my grandkids up and ready for school (my 2 daughters and their kids lived with me then) and drove them to school. I was supposed to take my oldest daughter 2 hours away to pick up my oldest granddaughter, who was then 14, and bring her home as soon as my daughter was ready. I had just a very brief period of time between trips. I went to get put something back in the fridge and suddenly got so dizzy that I couldn't even let go of the fridge. My daughters had to help me lay down on an air mattress one was using right near the fridge. I thought it would pass in a few minutes but it didn't. After a few minutes I told them to all the ambulance and tell them I was having a stroke because somehow I knew. Remember that, because sometimes a stroke will have symptoms, such as extreme dizziness and nausea, not normally listed as one of the signs of a stroke. I didn't have any of the symptoms the public service announcements advertise.
To make a long story short, we lived in a rural town. The EMS came, and knocked me out with medication. I didn't know anything else for a couple of days until I woke in a hospital in Phoenix, AZ and was told I had a stroke with a brain bleed. My oldest son from Texas and his wife were there. I spent 3 weeks there, then when they were going to move me to inpatient rehab section my son and his wife has me moved to Dallas, TX instead, closer to where they lived. They both nurse practitioners. I spent 2 weeks in the hospital in TX. A total of 5 weeks altogether. Stayed with them for 4 months, and then was able to get my own apartment. There was a ton of stress in the small town in New Mexico I came from and my son asked me not to go back there.
I still struggle with a lot of deficits, many of which people don't see. I have trouble walking because of my balance, and have to constantly watch right in front of me to keep from staggering or falling. My right hand shakes when I try to do anything functional with it. I get very tired easily. I also have a lot of arthritis in my back, which I think was made worse during the stroke and the time in bed afterwards. Until I had the stroke, I often walked daily 3 or more miles a day. I started running at age 55, and was almost 59 when I had the stroke. Can't run anymore. Can't work anymore and am on SS disability. Because of my right hand so many things are difficullt, like cutting/filing my nails, cleaning, holding things, eating, and a hundred other little things we take for granted. I can only print a little bit and it's hard, and my cursive consists of only my horrible signature. My attention span is shorter, and my brain gets really tired easily which then makes my whole body tired. It requires a lot of concentration to walk, although I look more "normal" than people realize because of the concentration. I'm away from my two daughters, a son, and some grandkids still in NM that I miss a whole lot (especially the grandkids). They did have a lot of problems though. When I moved, because I went from hospital to hospital I never got to go back to NM and get my things, although I did have a friend get my car and later got my car shipped from her house there over here. My oldest son picked up a few things for me (especially my laptop) on his way to Phoenix when I first had the stroke. So when I moved I had to start completely over and literally had one load in my car when I moved. That included an air mattress I bought at Walmart to sleep on. Much more but I'll stop there.
Now for the blessings.
I now have a houseful of furniture, even though most is used, that I got from different places over time that I either bought cheaply or new friends gave me. I have kitchen things. I have everything I need, including my companion kitten ha ha. Through everything my faith in God has kept me and His love has provided and carried me through. I have found a 2 support groups recently. One is a stroke survivor's group at a rehab center and the other is a faith based one at my church for any kind of brain injury, including stroke, brain tumors, accidents to the head, and others. Each meets once a month and are blessings. I have new friends. I have a lot more peace. I have the freedom to lay down when I need to rest for a while. I now have a Medicare Advantage plan so have insurance and a few other benefits like Silver Sneakers for a free gym membership. My life is so different, yet so blessed. I miss the things I can't do anymore and the people I had in my home, but I have so many positive things to be grateful for. In spite of a number of difficulties, I can live alone and take care of myself. I might be slow but I get it done. I can drive and have my car. To get a TX driver's license I had to take a driving test since I'd had a stroke, and I passed it which is why I drive. I am very blessed to because I saw other people when I worked with senior citizens who were in worse shape after a stroke. I used a walker for a while but now, even though it's difficult, I can walk without a walker. I only use a walking stick for longer walks for balance. Without God in my life I don't know how I would have made it through any of this.
So if you've made it through all this, I hope you realize, like I do, that through the hardships there are way more blessings. This is what I want to focus on. Not what I've lost, but what I've gained. Life is still so good and there is so much still ahead for me.