Holy updates, Batman!
This post is a bit overdue. I had intended to post at the beginning of each month with a general update, unrelated to the stroke story posts, since there are only a few months left before the one year mark of the stroke. Obviously that hasn’t happened and I’m willing to admit that I simply haven’t felt like writing for the past month and a half.
Just a quick WARNING FOR “THE STROKE STORY” READERS: Yup, this post contains spoilers. I’ll try not to ruin anything major (that’s a lie. The barest amount of deductive reasoning will be enough to figure out a general idea of what’s happened in recent months.), but no promises. Skip this post, if you loathe spoilers, now.
So, what’s happened lately? I have returned to college – let me clarify what that means for yours truly before I continue. I began college a whopping 10 years ago when I was 15 but eventually left school without a degree having realized the need to be able to support myself financially. I had moved out of my family’s residence and moved into my first roommate situation with my then boyfriend, John, my more-sister-than-friend, Lizzy, and her husband, Tim. I don’t remember how I came to stop living with my parents, only that I did and that it wasn’t under the best of circumstances. I met Adam when I was 18 or 19, he was 24 or 25 and was dating Kat at the time. Adam helped me out of a bad living situation and I became his roommate. I began a full-time position with a company later that year and dropped out of college the same year or the year after. I don’t remember exactly when. Anyway, throughout the course of my college career I had switched majors several times (video and post production, applied mathematics with hopes of pursuing cryptanalysis, and music performance) and had looked at my newly acquired position as a means of post-poning a final decision regarding my major. I’ve learned that pre-stroke me was pretty indecisive. My unfortunate indecision has set me back quite a bit; while I could have acquired a doctorate and been working for 2 years by now, I now have to finish 8 of my basic courses before earning a general Associate of Arts. Blah. Whatever. After the first degree has been completed (next summer if all goes well) I’ll be moving on to another university for a B.S. in kinesiology for the medical field with a minor in robotics; I really want to help people walk. Finally, in 2017 or 2018 I’ll be able to able to begin working toward earning a DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy) degree. Apparently all I needed to make up my mind about what to do with my life was to have a stroke. I have seriously got to stop doing things the hard way.
That’s a very brief overview of life pre-stroke. Returning to where I left off, right. I’ve returned to college, am working on learning to walk without an assistive device and am aiming for the end of this year as my target for walking with a reasonably normal gait (it’s hard to explain). I practice a routine of yoga, calisthenics and walking on a daily basis. I look different because of the huge amount of weight I’ve lost (65-ish lbs). I eat differently and try to take care of my body. It holds my brain and my brain needs my body to be stronger now. I take care of my brain and body because I never want to experience this hell again.
This November I’ll be completing the six-hour Adaptive UltraCentric with my buddies from Achilles International. Luckily, my friend, Jeff Chaffin, is an Achilles athlete who worked with the UltraCentric crew to found the adaptive version of the event. He mentioned it to me a couple of months ago and I readily agreed; I’m going to complete my first endurance event because this guy was able to see past my uneven gait, obvious limp and partial blindness and told me that I could do it despite all of my seemingly insurmountable deficits, which have mercifully improved enormously since I was first told of the event.
Getting back on track, the UltraCentric is this November, my first 5k walk (post-stroke) is maybe a week or so before the UltraCentric, my first run will be sometime towards the end of next year, a marathon and triathlon will be in 2016 or 2017, my first half Ironman (70.3 mile triathlon) in 2018 and, finally, a full Ironman (140.6 mile triathlon) in 2019. I know, these are big goals, but I found that when I lost the ability to sit up on my own, I acquired enough determination to run up Everest backwards in flip flops. Okay, maybe not that much determination but you get the picture.
More importantly, I’ve strengthened existing friendships and have had the opportunity to make new friendships. When things get really rough and I get so, so tired, I know that there are people around, friends and family alike, who care about whether or not I get back up. I don’t think that I really knew that before the stroke. You learn some obvious lessons sometimes. Now, whenever I get that tired of waiting for the moment I can run, I just try to remember that I just have to keep moving. Even if I somehow end up in a coma with a breathing tube snaked down my throat again, I’m still moving. My heart is still beating and my lungs are still pumping; just keep moving.
On a lighter note, I’m hungry. Time for food.