13 STROKECONNECTION Winter 2017
was 42 when I had a hemorrhagic stroke in
December 2008. I had no risk factors, and it was
most likely caused by medicine that was prescribed
at the time. The stroke damaged the right parietal
lobe. There is also an infarct in the occipital lobe as well.
My first indication that something was wrong was a seizure
on December 6, while shopping at Target. I was rushed to
the hospital where they discovered the bleed. I needed lifesaving surgery. I spent time on life support, and the month of
December in an acute care facility.
In January 2009, I was transferred to a rehabilitation
hospital. I was very agitated and tried to stand in the bed. My
leg got caught between the bed and the side rail, and I broke
my left ankle. That made recovery interesting.
I have left-side weakness with spasticity and visual field
cuts. I struggle in crowds because I don’t see things on
my left side. I often find bruises on the left side of my body
because I walked into something I didn’t see.
My service dog, Finley, helps me navigate my world. I
use Finley for balance and retrieval. He also alerts me when
someone is on my
reasons, I had to
surrender my driver’s
license. I taught high
school and could not
return to that job.
I started writing to
fill the void. I found
writing — prose
or poetry — to be
about my stroke helps me deal with the ongoing grieving that
many stroke survivors feel. I enjoy sharing my writing. When
other people read it, I feel like I am still contributing to society.
I also find strength in sharing my story and educating others.
This quote from Anne Frank describes the role of writing in my
recovery: “I can shake off everything as I write, my sorrows
disappear, my courage is reborn.”
How can you do this to me, I cry.
I thought we had an understanding, a great relationship.
I take care of you; feed you nutritious foods; make sure you exercise.
I do everything I can to keep you healthy.
You, in turn, promised to protect me from harm.
You fought for me when I was ill.
You did whatever was needed to restore my health.
You allowed the medicines to do their job,
But you, too, were rallying for me, quietly helping me fight germs.
When I was injured you knew what to do to help me heal.
Together we were the perfect couple.
It was a beautiful love story. There was equanimity in our life.
But without warning, it all changed.
Maybe there were clues,
Some signs and symptoms I ignored,
And then one day, without warning you abandoned me and our relationship.
And I feel betrayed.
It is the ultimate betrayal —
When your body fails you.