Starting over

A week of the apocalypse and living off of cheese rations (anyone who knows me also knows that I’m totally okay with cheese rations) followed, with short interruptions from reality. I remember a trip to the MRI machine, looking up and seeing Crystal, Heather and Angel talking about a sandwich, Kat and Erick standing in my doorway, and a group of coworkers gathered around my bed. I knew I was late for work, but was this really necessary? I also dreamed that my feeding tubes were snakes and kept ripping them out.
As a side note, applesauce does not make taking medicine, at least the kind I was given, taste ANY better. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. I still don’t trust applesauce cups. Jello is still a ‘tricky bastard’.
The next thing I remember was being loaded onto another ambulance that was weirdly going to take me and a few other patients to the renaissance festival. Of course, I was wrong and being transported to an inpatient facility. I was finally declared medically stable. The driver of the EMT transport played along with the renaissance festival theory until my excitement (we had planned to go with Adam’s family the following week and I believed I was terribly late because of that pesky apocalypse) lead to exhaustion and I slipped in and out of sleep.
It was cold outside and I was sad that I was missing good running weather. But part of me knew that something big had happened and I wasn’t okay. I kept pushing it away, almost believing that I could jump up at any moment and wake up from the worst dream of my life. The paramedics rolled my bed down a hall with pictures of people on either side and their stories hanging next to their photos. I would later have those pictures and some of the stories of those stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients memorized.
We eventually found our way up to the stroke ward. I don’t remember getting there; just being checked by a young doctor who said a lot to Adam that I didn’t understand. I answered a few questions before I felt extremely tired again. I didn’t like that I now had a shared room, or that it was extremely warm to my still adjusting body. But I was tired, and for the next five weeks, I was home.


Yesterday was a great day for me at outpatient rehab. Trisha, the neuropsychologist assigned to me, asked if I would be comfortable helping the start up of a group for young stroke and TBI victims. I’m one of three stroke patients under the age of fifty. The only other female is in her thirties and is very sad and withdrawn, so she doesn’t converse with me outside of our one shared group. The other is twenty one and I’ve only met him once. There are at least ten TBI patients near my age, though they don’t have a group to go to for their age range. I’m quite a bit more outgoing than most people there, which factored greatly into her asking, and love the idea of a group where younger people can share tips regarding topics pertinent to a younger age range.
Yesterday was sadly my last neuropsych session. So far I have been discharged from my primary therapists and am attending groups only now. I was pretty disappointed to be leaving Trisha, but not before she promised to stop in the lunchroom from time to time to say hello. There are other patients who need her more now.

Currently my focus lies on my walking and balance. I have five primary goals for the year, and they certainly won’t be easy to achieve.

In no particular order:
1.) Return to college this fall and successfully complete one course
2.) Walk unassisted and without a device (I currently use a walker)
3.) Write legibly with my right hand
4.) Return to being right hand dominant
5.) Return to freestyle swimming

My goal for next year will be to run, jump, and complete a few 5k’s; the year after to return to biking, and the next year to training for that triathlon that I missed out on. My good friend Adam, who I’ll refer to as ‘Adam #2’ henceforth, agreed to complete the fun runs with me, along with Becca (our favorite pastime together was completing fun runs) and Jenn. I never realized how much I rely on them until my stroke occurred. The most meaningful text I have ever received from Adam#2 was, ‘I want to complete your first triathlon with you.’ From Becca it was ‘Yeah anytime is fine. I can make it work.’ in response to my query about her visiting from Louisiana.
Constant, daily support comes in from Heather. She, Jenn and Lizzy were helping Adam look for me at 3 am when I still hadn’t come home from my swim. I missed the run that I had scheduled with Lizzy the morning of the 3rd. I’m sorry about that.
My mother-in-law, ‘Mimzy’, and Adam make up the rest of my daily support team. I don’t know what I would do without them.

I recently read a book by A. Hellenkamp, Before and After the Bleed, chronicling his experience of a hemorrhagic stroke. A. is the only person I have ever spoken with, near my age, who has experienced some of what I did. Granted, I have been lucky enough not to have a portion of my skull removed, but conversing (could easily be described as ‘berating with questions’) with someone who had a similar experience and made such a drastic recovery is very uplifting and helpful.

I’m tired now. More later.

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