When people hear stroke, they hear brain damage, and they hear mentally deficit, or physically infirm. And shorter life, and ill health. I am getting tired of the assumptions made about my "condition. " The first six months I was telling complete strangers I had a stroke. It was like I needed them to be as astounded as I was. I realize that there is a huge mental block that most people have comprehending that. And I see a lot of fear in them, as I have fear. I feel like a recovering alcoholic "one day at a time" because that is the only way I have found to embrace that fear. Very slowly. Every day I am alive and in my body is a step toward acceptance. I have learned not to tell people about the stroke because they have no where to go with that information. I still have to figure out where to go with that information. Here is a couple tales of what happens when I do tell.
Firstly, I met a former board member for lunch and told her that I had a stroke after her personal tale of a major car accident. When I met a different board member that I had a working rapport with a week later- he gave me a hug just a tad too long - and quizzed me mercilessly about "what changes have occurred in my outlook on life" "what was my love life like" "how were the kids handling my illness" and all sorts of strange uncomfortable queries. These were board members that I got along well with at work, but they did not know my private life story. When working, I don't tell people personal stuff because it is work : my livelihood, my professional career.
He then went on to say they were talking, and understood what changes were happening with me because a mom - in her 80's- had a stroke on the same side of the brain. And that they understood my ability to think was affected., because her ability to think was affected. I then got a call from him a couple days later to tell me of a volunteer who spoke glowingly of me... And how I needed to realize what a difference I had made to so many people. Does that sound like eulogy material to you?
Second, I have a dear friend that handled my stroke like this: she mentioned that she would like all of us to go on a trip together "because she doesn't know how long I will be able to do such things. "
I am still here and talking at my kids about their homework (I purposely say at because they don't necessarily listen), taking the horses for a walk, getting the garden queued up, negotiating with doctors, working on my house (always the house... ) Yes, I basically had a big "STOP" put on my life while everything shifted into understanding a new concept of what my life is -- that it is finite and so fragile. I would not be called a fragile person normally, but now get to add that to my repertoire. I am nothing if not adaptable, even if taken there against my will.