Okay, so, this was originally a comment response to a post on the Young Stroke Survivors Facebook group. But it turned into a really long comment so I decided to turn it into a blog post. Yay.
Note that there are many factors in play when it comes to physical and non-physical recovery, such as location of the stroke(s), age, gender, environment, etc.
Personally, I had multiple strokes simultaneously, affecting my cerebellum, occipital lobe, medulla and pons (located in the brainstem), some forebrain, and various deep brain structures. The deeper structures of the cerebellum and occipital lobe had some hemispheric crossover. These strokes primarily affected my left hemisphere, however, the deep structures in my brain (such as the amygdala and thalamus) were also affected, and some of my corpus callosum (the portion of the brain that connects the two hemispheres) took damage, which then led to some crossover hemispheric damage. Basically, both sides of my brain were affected, however my left hemisphere took the most damage (~95+%).
I am currently 3 years, 10 months, 2 weeks and 2 days post strokes. I have hemiparesis, ataxia, ~40-45% vision loss (I’m unable to see out of the right halves of both eyes but can see clearly out of the left halves. This is due to the damage in the occipital lobe.), seizures, mixed aphasia, clinical-type depression, mild bradycardia (low heart rate), extreme tremor, complete loss of function of one of the four primary arteries that feed blood to the brain, etc. It has taken nearly four years to finally be able to schedule a fitting for a wheelchair. But it finally got scheduled for tomorrow! I’m so excited!
However, I am able to walk over three miles (the wheelchair is intended for part-time use only, such as during social outings, shopping, and when I know I will need to carry things), have gone camping, kayaking, trampolining, indoor rock climbing, participated in multiple 5K events (always as the last person to finish, but I finished!), re-learned how to read and English, am constantly improving my memory, handle my own finances and schedule, am a freelance artist and neuroartist, have learned ways to work around my inability to write legibly, attend and have presented at neurology grand rounds at the medical school that I am involved with (not as a student. The strokes occurred while I was in the middle of a degree in a math-intensive field and I have not been able to complete the degree due to the strokes.), have been on an international flight by myself, have flown and traveled within the states by myself, have gone on multi state road trips, and am technically healthier – am definitely happier and more motivated – then I was prior to the strokes.
I might never fully recover my natural walking gait, hand and arm function, vision, memory, a natural level of spasticity, etc., but I’m okay with that now. I move oddly, need assistance carrying things that require two hands, have decreased interaction with friends prior to the strokes, but am happier – even with the new depression caused by the strokes – and am more confident.
If someone doesn’t fully recover from a stroke, that’s okay. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t try. You should always strive for recovery at the highest possible percentage, and then you should strive to become even stronger. But it’s okay if you move as oddly as I do, and it’s okay if people stare at you when you’re walking around in public, and it’s okay to use a wheelchair, and it’s okay to have lifelong physical and/or non-physical deficits that complicate your everyday life. You survived something that the majority of people it happens to don’t survive. You survived. You’re doing great. ♡