Picking up where I left off, right.
I don’t mean to say that the girl I was before the stroke was a bad person; I just mean that the personality changes are enough of a foundational shift that I don’t necessarily find that I would befriend someone like who I was. That sounds odd, but I really don’t know how to say it any better.
I haven’t forgotten that most of the difficulties I have are common after a stroke, particularly after an infarct in the superior cerebellar artery (SCA), such as acquired ataxia, spasmodic dysphonia (think Diane Rehm of NPR, but nowhere near as severe.), etc. I’ve looked for information about changes in personality after a stroke or brain injury and haven’t found much in the way of foundational shifts; I’ve mostly found things about frustration, depression and anger. I don’t seem to have any problems with depression or anger, but I do get frustrated, mostly when I have difficulty with speaking. I try not to let it show, and it seems rare that it actually does, but it happens. For example, I went to a concert with Isaiah last Thursday and had difficulty with the stairs and walking in general, especially after the loud music (which is a factor that I find very interesting and will have a post about in the near future.). The ataxia seemed to fly back to the intensity it had several months ago. It had seemed like a ‘bad day’ (more on that later) for the ataxia in general and I felt frustrated that I hadn’t taken a moment to really focus myself before leaving the apartment. I was so, so frustrated in a way that didn’t allow me to talk as much as normal. I shut down and tried to quiet my brain, but it wouldn’t quiet. Thanks to finding out what the ataxia is like on a really bad day, I now rarely use the cane. Frustration sucks, strokes suck, ataxia sucks, this entire experience sucks, but those things happen and sometimes they’re worth it; I’ll make it worth it.
Back to the personality stuff. I understand that it’s hard to recognize that there have been changes, especially since I ignored them myself for so long. I was hanging out with Jennifer last week and explained some of it to her; I’ll try to explain it in the same way here. I have a bit of memory loss and dissociation when it comes to life pre-stroke. I remember some people but sometimes don’t remember how I know them or where we met. Sometimes just knowing that I somehow know someone is enough. The upside to not having a connection to people I used to know is that I can get to know them again; the downside is that I have to ‘learn’ them again and they have to learn a new version of me. While I won’t bother to hide things for the sake of other people’s comfort anymore, I certainly won’t go out of my way to let people observe the difficulties. Aphasia moment? Push through it. Ataxia acting up? Won’t bother trying to hide the obvious. Bad balance day? I’m unlikely to ask for someone’s arm unless I’m pretty comfortable with that person. Stairs? Move over, I get the rail. Yup.
I think that’s all in regards to the personality changes for now. See? That wasn’t so bad. Two short posts and done. It gets better.