Above is a model of a brain, viewed in my neurologist’s office. In the center of the brain is the thalamus–that’s what got hit during my stroke. The thalamus is associated with crucial tasks like memory and intuition; simultaneously, it’s sort of a hub and connected to other parts of the brain. Yet, its central position provides advantages to healing. That is, because it is centrally located, alternate brain paths are easily forged…and of course, lead to healing. That’s what’s happening in my head these days: the brain is finding new routes and roads.
Today, after lunch with Susan, I went to my neurologist for an appointment. I fully expected to be depressed, much as I was depressed after my initial visit to speech therapy last week. But no. I was strangely inspired by my visit, and I felt the long way I’d come in a very short time.
The doctor had seen me from my initial days in the hospital, and I watched his every move to gauge my progress–not just his words but his facial expression and reactions to me. He had not seen me since my discharge. He wrote notes down when I said I had not been able to write creatively just yet, and how limited I was in my reading of fiction work. He seemed concerned about that. He seemed non-reactive to my current cognitive state, as if he expected this level of healing. He did not seem so surprised by my progress, and told me in a matter of fact tone the nature of my stroke and its location. I had to apologize to him–he probably told all this to me before in the hospital, but I didn’t remember much of my hospital stay.
I found out today that I am lucky.
I was and am very lucky.
I could have been felled by this stroke, but somehow, emerged with what I think is nearly the best possible scenario. “It was a fluke,” said the doctor. A small PFO (hole) in my heart. A small clot. Straight into my brain, deep into the cortex, right at the thalamus. And yet, here I am, able to blog, at least, and live, and well enough to hide the stroke from most people. I’ll make a complete and full recovery, eventually.
I feel strange to consider myself lucky, but I think that’s what I am. And I often wonder, with all these new paths forged in my brain, if I will be different; I am coming to the conclusion that yes, I am changed, but not because of those paths.
Most of my life these days is “in the moment.” I just can’t hold my thoughts sometimes, and I’m thinking of all the rewards from this situation. Of all the ways I am “lucky.”
My friend Rose told me that I would learn some great lessons in this illness (she told me some other great and wise things, too). I’m trying to open my mind widely, trying to gulp the lessons up, or at least letting them in. Living in the moment is one of them. It’s hard for me to remember things–during the course of a conversation, thoughts spring into my mind and it’s hard for me to hold these thoughts as my companion talks before me. Because it takes me so much energy to hold the thoughts AND listen to my friend, I find myself letting these thoughts slip. Are they that important? No. I’ll just take it all by the moment.
If I think a thought is important enough, I’ll take out a notebook and write it down so that I’ll remember. But most of the passing thoughts? I let them pass.