Friday, September 11, 2009

FAQ #3

"Did the stroke affect your mental faculties in any way?"


I still feel like me--that is, I don't feel stupider--but I'm definitely slower and less able to do math in my head and more liable to get stuck verbally. Nobody except Jeff really notices. He says I'm more on his level now . . .

I never felt significantly different. My memory was still good (Jeff got all my usernames and passwords for web billing from me early on) and I could read in several languages right away. But my head hurts when I think too hard. It's not funny, but it should be.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

FAQ #2

"Were you bewildered?"

Not really. I don't know why I wasn't.

The stroke felt more like something that was happening to me rather than something I suffered. It's really the first time I ever felt completely passive. Eventually it occurred to me to wonder how it happened, but I was never really surprised. The fact is, I experienced it and didn't have time to react to it. My friend Barbara came to watch my kids while it was descending on me and she said she was as shocked as I was. When I replied that I wasn't shocked she had to agree--according to her, I sat there smiling and waiting for the ambulance. (Eventually I guess I was only able to smile with half my face, but she didn't mention that.)

Jeff went into immediate action--you could tell he was tense, but bewilderment would have been impractical. Cole was scared and worried, sitting in a chair facing me, but Gwendolyn kept playing calmly.

People here keep referring to my "faith," but it wasn't faith that I would be able to play violin again or faith that I would survive. I knew that everything would be okay--even if I lost the use of one whole side of my body--even if I could never speak again--even if I died.

Fortunately, I'm okay.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


"Is your recovery full, or going to be full?"

Let me tell you a version of the story I just recently learned from my loving husband:

The first neurologist the hospital called to come see me, um, never showed up. By the time the second neurologist arrived and ordered blood tests, I was well into the stroke, eyes rolling around in my head, the whole bit. (I know some of you don't appreciate a good story--you have to know the ending before the middle--but I'm writing this, after all, so there's nothing to worry about. The rest of you, enjoy the suspense!) Dr. Baker said she had told the lab to hurry with the test results because if they didn't start thinning my blood soon I might never come out of that state.

At this point I feel the need to make it clear that I never saw the bright light, never looked down at my body from on high. I didn't actually die, which means God didn't bring me back, which means he didn't "bring me back for a reason." When my son was asked if he thought my recovery was a miracle, he answered that he thought the stroke was the miracle. Healing is what a body, especially a young, healthy body, just does. Not having a stroke.

They got me on blood thinners in time, I guess, because I regained consciousness the same day. Unfortunately my right side was completely paralyzed. "They" said I would never play violin again, a prediction of which I was blissfully unaware until one of the "they"s (a physician's assistant--something I just recently learned to say on my first try) casually mentioned it at the rehab center.

Soon, however, "they" began to forecast a full recovery. I went through four months of physical therapy believing that at least most of my skills would return. Dr. Baker told me I may never be able to say certain words again, but that would be the worst of it.

And then in July, when I could barely scratch out a tune on the fiddle, when my right hand grip was still 20 pounds less than that of my left hand, and in fact when my shoulder extension was still not enough to allow me to wipe my own butt with my right hand--that is when my occupational therapist announced that she had never seen a full recovery as wonderful as mine.

So it does not mean what I thought.