11 STROKECONNECTION Winter 2017
had lived my life as a fearless, full-of-energy,
optimistic person, with high initiative, often in
excess (as I had been told), perhaps a bit careless,
bold to the point of ignoring danger. Well, I was
born a Sagittarius and, in the Chinese zodiac, a horse, for
those who believe in or blame the stars for their personality. I
do not know if I had a hobby. Judging from what I did in my
free time, I was a bookworm — reading, reading, reading!
Then, like lightning, on the evening of March 26, 2012,
a massive hemorrhagic stroke hit me, leaving me unable to
speak or move. After four months in hospital, to everyone’s
surprise, with immense courage and effort, I was able to
speak well and walk. Unexpectedly though, three ischemic
strokes and another hemorrhagic one followed, between then
and May 2013. Treatment was complicated as the two forms
of stroke require contrasting medication. Endless effort and
persistence rewarded me
with perfect walk. Only a
light speech impediment
and a right hand that is
not fully functioning are
the scars now.
Following the stroke, I
went through a spell of
re-learning, like being born again. Feelings were overpowering
my concentration and understanding. Verses facilitated
expression of my feelings. Coming with up a book of poems
and publishing it gave me utmost satisfaction, particularly
as the response from stroke survivors was so moving. I had
written verses before and shall continue to; poetry takes the
weight off my legs and gives me wings!
Memories that travel through the
Revolving doors of my mind.
Never ending corridors, with
Before me unwind.
It must be autumn today in my head,
For the leaves of paper
Billow and blow. I must put some
Order in this chaos, and not let it grow.
Each leaf has a word,
Each word has a sequence,
Each sequence has a method,
Which all starts with a word.
I am so glad it is autumn
in my head today,
And words surround me.
Because it is only a matter of time
Until one escapes from my lips.
I tried to think of a word today
And I could not.
A fog had descended in my head,
It would not allow any words to
It was dense and impregnable,
Not even light could penetrate
Through this dark
Not a word of anger,
Not a word of humor or desire,
Not a word of love or hate.
Nothing that would resemble
The beginning of a word,
To allow a sentence to be molded
Like clay into something desired,
I feel soulless,
The keeper of a million words,
That was me.
Now I can’t think of a mono syllable —
A Memory Box
Make a box to hold my memories.
Make it strong and sturdy.
Get a lock and key.
I want to be sure nobody can access,
Nobody but me.
I want to remember everything.
So, come, surprise me.
What can I learn today?
Which flower’s smell gives me pleasure?
Please pray, tell.
Which memory will you unlock
For me today?
All fresh and new.
The memories begin to trickle,
And then they begin to flow.
I feel such relief and utter satisfaction,
As the memory begins
to blossom and grow.
We talk and you show me numbers,
I start to remember how to count.
My excitement begins to grow.
How many things have I forgotten?
That’s what I want to know.
Yvonne Kent Pateras