March 13, 2015

It’s nearing a year and a half (16.5 months) since the stroke happened, so it’s time for a general update.

The ending of 2014 and beginning of 2015 were… insane, and deserve more than a glossing over in one post, so I won’t get into the details now. Let’s just note some of the other happenings of this year, yeah?

– I ran in January with the assistance of a harnessed treadmill. I have no doubts that I’ll be back to unassisted running this year. Not being able to run for over a year now has sucked. Strokes suck.

– Insurance recently pulled through and awarded me with a portion of my former salary for last year, and a monthly salary for the year of 2015. My focus is now entirely on recovery. Was it worth having a stroke for? Not a chance.

– Difficult topic now. The first six to eight months after the stroke were spent in a bit of a haze, and I didn’t really begin to regain my faculties until mid-year. My PCP prescribed Baclofen to help with the tremors that ataxia has bestowed on me with… an alarming amount of generosity. While baclofen did help to diminish the tremors, it also possibly caused a bout of depression. I eventually stopped taking it and went on my way without it, with the approval of my doctor. Over the past several months, I’ve noticed “ups and downs” similar to the depressive state I took while I was on baclofen. Except, this is somehow different from what I experienced with baclofen. It’s more intense. I don’t know how to explain it, but at least I’m aware of it. I’m currently working through the process of sorting out who to see and what to do about post-stroke depression (PSD).

– Second difficult topic: memory. As my brain fog began to clear last summer, issues with my memory became apparent, then subsided – or I just got used to it. I don’t know. I went to an attention & memory group during the first several months I was in the Challenge program and learned compensatory strategies to cope with my then very evident memory problems. I learned to tap notes into my phone’s notepad, make lists for everything, rely on my calendar schedules, and learned ways of triggering my memory when it would get ‘stuck’. The strategies helped, and my memory improved. But now it’s obvious to me that I’m still having problems. After the stroke I wasn’t able to recall years of my life or the proper order of events during the years I could remember. Now I simply forget plans, lose my train of thought, forget what I’m saying mid-sentence, forget the names of people and objects. More alarmingly, I sometimes forget recent (since the stroke) periods of time and later, sometimes much later, recall what I’ve forgotten. For example, I went to Kenny & Ziggy’s for dinner with Heather last November, but had forgotten that we had gone until she reminded me back in January. Some serious things happened around that time that I can recall, but sometimes only when I’m prompted. It sometimes helps to be reminded of the shape of the cheese I was eating, or maybe the color of a wall, the location of a parking spot, a type of nearby tree, etc. But who thinks to notice those things other than me? It’s difficult to remind yourself of an event when you don’t remember the event in the first place.

I’ve been wanting to call Meg for months, but I keep forgetting. I couldn’t remember why I was going to Gattitown last week until I got there, and then I couldn’t remember what my nephew’s birthday present was until he opened it. There are days when I don’t remember people, how I met them, their name, their role in my life. Learning and retaining your own history shouldn’t be so difficult. How am I going to get through the fall semester like this? Will I ever finish with a DPT?

– I’m moving again (more on that later). I’ve moved twenty-something times in my life and I just turned 26. What’s another move?

– I go back to my cardio surgeon at the end of this month. If all goes well, it should be the end of my stroke-related procedures. There’s a small chance that I could have a hole in my lung, which would mean a full blown slicy-slicy-scars-type surgery. Like I said, a small chance (like 6%), but I can’t seem to keep from stressing over it. I mean, my chances of having a stroke at all were also “very small”. Then, to have one in my cerebellum, acquire ataxia and become partially blind (hemianopia)? Even smaller odds of any one of those things happening in addition to having a stroke in the first place. Having a bigger surgery would mean missing out on rideATAXIA in Dallas next month. It will be my first cycling event since the LIVESTRONG Challenge – Austin event back in 2013. I can’t miss rideATAXIA. Plus, people from the Ataxia & Fitness group will be there. They’ve helped me through so much and don’t realize it. Yeah, I need to be in rideATAXIA.

Okay. I’ve likely forgotten several things but that’s all the update you get for now. I promise that I’ll get back to writing regularly.

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