Friday, July 20, 2012

I am Hot...Sizzling Hot.

Yesterday, my impairment led directly to injury. I am fiercely independent and loathe asking for help. But sometimes I have to recognize that certain situations require assistance. It sucks!

What happened, you say? A tornado warning forced the local Farmer’s Market to close, which changed my menu plans for the evening. Instead of something fresh and simple to prepare, I had to resort to whatever I could scrounge up in my cupboard. How about a pasta salad? That should be simple enough, or so I thought. This is where the trouble starts.

To make pasta requires a big pot of boiling water. When done, drain the pasta into a colander. You know the drill. Easy enough with two fully functioning hands. That’s where the stroke comes in. My left hand doesn’t work. I lost control of the pot en route to the sink and the boiling water went all over, into my shoes, splashing my legs, even hitting my belly (no comments about an easy target, please).

Letting out a scream, I headed for the bathroom, knowing I needed to get in the shower as fast as I could, trying to strip off my clothes on the way. Rory, hearing my scream, rushed up from his room. Good thing, because I couldn’t get my brace off myself.  Finally in the shower, I let the cold water wash over the burned areas for a good 20 minutes.

Once out of the shower, I needed to ice the affected areas. But there were so many. Both legs, both feet. And the belly. Ice packs everywhere. Picture trying to manage that balancing act. I felt like a snow cone.

Jim came home looking distressed, but admonishing me nonetheless, for my actions. Right, just what I needed to hear, like I didn’t know that. And I had to acknowledge my failure to heed Mom’s constant reminders 'to be careful'. Good advice, but does it really make me more careful or safe? ' Mom, I will be reckless and careless'  enters my mind in response. Now I better take her advice to heart.
I was also pained by a flashback to the image of myself reflected in the mirrored walls of my bathroom, making my way to the shower, an image that could induce another stroke. This hot, sizzling body looking soft and sagging, with blotches of red and purple, like a Jackson Pollack canvas.

So here I am today, housebound, barefoot, lathered up with a burn cream and wearing a moo moo to keep clothing away from the skin, and humming the tune, Burn, Baby Burn.  Uncomfortable, yes, but more so annoyed and frustrated by the setback. I’m told I should forgo shoes and my brace for a week to let the areas heal properly. A week? Hey no bikini, ok, but shoes! Are you kidding me?

Typical of these situations is to try to point to someone or something as the cause, but it is rarely ever a single thing. Rather, it is usually a series of events. What if there was no tornado warning to force the Farmer’s Market to close? What If I had checked my independence at the door and called on Rory to transfer the pot? Or if I had listened to the last “be careful” uttered by Mom? Maybe it was the recent Botox shots working so well to overcome the effects of stroke, it relaxed the tone in my left hand to the extent it was even more useless than usual? These all played a part, but in the end, maybe it was just an unfortunate accident. Avoidable? Sure, if you change something in the sequence of events leading up to it.

Now if only the burns could have melted away some fat cells, the lesson learned would have been worth it.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

15 years later...Milestones occur every day!

Fifteen years ago today, I narrowly escaped the Grim Reaper’s scythe. Every year since, I have marked this day as a 'Homage to my Hemorrhage,' celebrating the gift of more time here on earth.  Originally, I thought of this year’s anniversary as a milestone, but in reflection, I realize that every day is a milestone, an extra opportunity to make a positive difference.

Although my life’s path as I had envisioned veered way of course, I am immensely grateful for the incredible opportunities my stoke has given me.  I never felt like a victim of stroke, but rather a survivor of life's happenstance. While some may cringe that I refer to my stroke as a gift, it has shaped my life in ways that are surprisingly full of wonderful possibilities and brought many remarkable people into my life, people who leave me in awe and inspired by the power of the human spirit.

No one completely escapes adversity, be it physical, emotional, or financial. Mine happened to be a paralyzing stroke, but it has given me insight to what is important. My stroke has taught me lessons that keep me grounded, fulfilled, and ready to greet each day with renewed hope. Thanks to my stroke, I've learned:
·         Life is about choice. Each choice is predicated on my prior choice.
·         Laughter truly is the best medicine for the mind, body and spirit. I require daily doses. It starts by laughing at myself, and when my dear friends join in, it creates a cacophony of joy.
·         No one is responsible for my happiness but me. I must choose to be happy. But just because I choose it doesn't make it so; it takes hard work.
·         I must overcome obstacles to accomplish a goal. Obstacles, or roadblocks, cause detours, but I am not discouraged. Detours often lead to new discoveries about myself and what I am capable of.
·         The proverbial 'light at the end of the tunnel' is there only if I find it within myself to foresee a positive outcome.

I am not my stroke. Does it define me? In some ways, perhaps, but it is only one side of the multifaceted person I am.  I am the victor of my stroke; I conquered the beast. Yes, it raises its ugly head daily, but I am battle ready. This enemy did not defeat me, it only made me stronger, wiser, grateful, happier, yes, happier. I know up-close-and-personal that every day I get out of bed is a gift.
Limping for joy!

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