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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A life of stroke, tumor, and one inch gallstones!

The stroke happened in 2011.  I carried no risk factors such as high cholesterol, family risk, smoking.  I did have the start of belly fat... skinny arms and legs and and little pooch hanging over my jeans. I figured all the horse manure I was hauling and house repair I was doing was keeping me in shape.  The only thing I could change was my diet... I had a love of baked goods, burgers and lots of coffee!  I did have fluxes in my blood pressure, corresponding with attempts to control menopausal symptoms with hormones.  BIG fluxes.  So much so that a man standing behind me at a pharmacy blood pressure machine commented : "Whoa, is that normal for you?"  So I had to hormones nixed.  Six months later, a stroke.  (I am not saying this is the cause...)
There was alot of internal mental gymnastics around coping with the stroke, when my brain felt sparky enough to focus on life. The start of an awareness that I will not be here forever. A 'duh' but it was presented like a slap in the face.  Then, at a routine follow-up MRI they found a meningioma tumor in my head (not brain).  In some ways looking at it now a year later, having the traumatic, what-the-f stroke first has made all the other issues small.  Not too small, but they are not the loss-of-everything-you-know that a stroke demands you be aware of very suddenly.  With the stroke there was no procrastinating.  No pushing my body forward with sugar and coffee.  It just was, and made me very present in my body. Which really sucked when my body was a cesspool of rumor and fear and terror and loss.    It sucks there is no guidebook or professional that can succinctly say "you had this kind of stroke, so you will have changes in these functions." It is all wait and see.
That is the hardest for me, not having someone that can answer what is gone, what is altered, what is exactly the same and I am blaming it on the stroke?  Because honestly, if you met me today on the farm, you would not know I am a stroke survivor.  I drive, I work, I quabble with my kids about homework and choices.  My co-workers do not even know, perhaps they think I am naturally a bit forgetful.  But there are changes, I know.  Scrambling words. Getting tired ridiculously early. Loss of stamina.  Errors in writing.  I can't multi-task anymore.  (Boy, did I multi-task).  All the little things-  Issues with balance. Uneven muscle tone. Constant ear ringing and head popping.
When I meet some old colleagues and they have heard the news... I absolutely dislike the condescending and sweet elevated tones they use. Like I am an invalid, or child.  It is a stroke.  It is my stroke.  For whatever reason I had it, now it is a part of me.  I may be different, I may not. I hate pity. 
 I did some meditation with the tumor, and what came back was an image of the tumor not as a foreign invader in my brain, but just as an organic lump made from my being and residing in my head.  There was something comforting to me, since I was seeing it as "other" which it was not.  Same with the stroke. 
The key thing here is all these things that seem to be hitting me all at once are just a part of my life. And there is actually a space of a few months between all this crap.  When you see it written out really sounds bad, but I am still here functioning well and busy. I don't write about the everyday with activity from sun-up to sundown -- walking, making jams, laughing at work, movies, my kids.    People have alot crappier issues than what I am dealing with.... I have a home that keeps me out of trouble, chickens, kids that keep me on my toes, crazy cats, a loud dog, gardens, a job, cars that work reliably.  I have access to a neurologist that I love, one that I don't but I have confidence in his knowledge, therapists, PT's... yoga and massage!
I am okay.  I am living my life.  I am independent.  I will not always be able to say those three sentences, but I can say them now.  And that is just the same as every other living thing on this planet.  I hate I had a stroke. And that I have a tumor in my head. But neither is killing me right at the moment, and neither was something I could stop.  So if I say the stroke is a good thing, that is because I have to see the positive. It is how I go on -- half amused at all this medical weirdness. My doc told me I needed to stop being medically interesting.  I agree.  Laughing feels so much better than crying.  I already did the crying, it did no good.  So I will stick with the mirth.

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