Monthly Archives: January 2007



I’ve written before about my curiosity on how this stroke has and will change me and the lessons I will learn from this entire experience. The reality is that I am physically changed–there is a dead spot in my brain. Of course I’m recuperating and healing and finding new paths around that oxygen starved part of my thalamus, but I can’t help but think about how I will never get that specific part of my brain back.

Between trying to survive my busy days and staving off boredom, I try to make a lot of observations about myself and this whole process. I’m investingating what’s changed, and it’s interesting to note what taxes me and what invigorates me.

You know about my visit to Best Buy–it sent my brain in weird overdrive. Not very surprising, actually, because that sort of stimulation has consistently led to disaster. In fact, that kind of situation was what led me to the emergency room after a rambling post on how I was feeling.

Ugh–am I making sense?
I went to the emergency room after a trip to the grocery store. I searched on my site for a rundown of what finally got me to go to the emergency room to get checked out, and I couldn’t find a post about it. Maybe it’s there, and my brain is so burnt tonight I can’t find it. Anyway, at the risk of boring you twice, I’ll brief you on what led me to the emergency room two days after my stroke.

It was a trip to the grocery store.

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Filed under The Stroke

1 month

Today was the 1 month anniversary of my stroke. I read what I wrote that day, and it’s a weird touching post. At the time I thought what I’d written made sense, but now I see it barely makes sense at times.

A friend of mine read it today, and I remarked, “I must have thought that if I kept writing I’d be normal again.”


Filed under The Stroke

the brain is smoking

My brain is sending out death knells–every sound is loud and brash and every thought slippery. A thought is in my head for a second before it skitters away.

Today was a hard day.

These days, a hard day is really obvious. For instance, I don’t remember the thought that made me start writing here. It’s one of those thoughts that have gone out into the atmosphere, lost. Like so many thoughts.


Filed under The Stroke

highs and lows


What a day–and it isn’t anywhere near over yet. This is a day of highs that made me feel like I was completely back and in a better form, and lows that made me feel like the dirt you see above…and now I’ve come home, hoping for the first time since my stroke that a long boring stretch of day will finally come visit. This is some of what I did today:

  • Went to campus to run long overdue errands. Filled out a request to get a refund for my tuition payment, went to go pick up a graded paper from last semester…and DRATS: I forgot library books to return. (They are long overdue).
  • Went to my fitness guru to say hello at his dojo (and met up with a buddy there)! I decided I was ready to say hi again.
  • Returned to campus with my (long overdue library books) and returned them, and ran into some MFA peers.

Simple, huh?

NOPE. And in hindsight, I chastise myself for trying to take on all these scenarios in the course of a day. It should have been either campus or my fitness guru, not both. For all of them (wonderful and terrible) taxed me to an incredible extent such that I sit here now, praying to zombie out. I’ve got a bag of Pirate’s Booty cheese puffs and a silly movie that I care about but don’t care that much about, queued up on TiVO.

These days it seems like I’m normal until I’m not. As soon as I think I’m normal or almost fully recovered, something comes out of the blue to remind me, “You have a long way to go.” Damn.

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Filed under Life, MFA, The Stroke

A Free Day

I have an entire day void of plans ahead of me–it is an unexpected blank. For many people this is quite a thrill. For me, it’s a dilemma–for I am the queen of boredom these days, and try to book 1-2 activities a day (either meeting a friend and/or an errand to run). Deciding things on spur of the moment is not a strength of mine either and so I sit here a bit perplexed and overwhelmed at the giant shadow of a day before me.

What do I do? What will I do for the next few hours? What do I feel like doing? What will I need to do? I am not sure–these days I don’t even pick what food I eat (despite my previous tendency to be VERY demanding of meal choices–my husband is in heaven as he solely picks and chooses meals for the first time in years).

The entire day is a blank page, and that is quite intimidating. I don’t know how to explain it, but that’s the way it is. Just to give you a picture of the situation–it’s after noon, I’m in my pajamas, on the couch “watching” (because I’m not really watching due to my lack of multi-tasking capabilities) James Bond on the television with the dogs, and I have not yet brushed my teeth.  Yes, it’s an ugly scene!

I know I’ve got to get myself out of the house.

I already made a call to my mother. I told my parents about this site by email the other day, so that they can keep up with my progress here–apparently, it is causing my father a great amount of concern! I didn’t mean that to be the outcome, I really thought that this page might be a source of peace to them–their daughter is writing, thinking, and pushing herself to recuperate. Sure, I’ve got short term memory problems, and I can’t write fiction yet, and reading fiction is a task, but how lucky am I to do this much? But then again, we are all impatient people and the reality is that it’s been less than a month since my stroke.

I am, in fact, making remarkable progress. And I am doing a remarkable job hiding my deficits from the world in day to day contact–perhaps it is here in my writing that I reveal all. It never dawned on me that I am such a natural at covering up my weaknesses even to my own parents but it seems I do.

This is how important my writing is to me–and I’m discovering more life lessons as I navigate this stroke and regain much of my cognitive abilities. The first few days, my life was a numb blank–my husband kids that I was quite cooperative! But now I’m regaining my feisty self, and fighting to learn from all of this. Who else suffers a stroke at the age of 33? Not many people, and so I have the chance to learn remarkable things from this–all the more so because I am so lucky to have not been felled.

These days, I live “in the now,” because I have a hard time remembering and not enough energy to invest in the future. It’s a remarkable feat, one which I have largely ignored my entire life. My sense of “now” is expanding–from the fifteen minute span of my first few days (I couldn’t really remember fifteen minutes previous to me, and I couldn’t plan more than fifteen minutes ahead) to a greater span of time. But it is a delicious lesson and I hope to keep this investment in the “now” as I heal.

And my writing–yes, how incredibly important it is to me.


Filed under Life, The Stroke, Writing

In one ear, out the other…


The deficit in my brain after the stroke? Short term memory. (Thank you thalamus!) The first couple days after my stroke, my mind was like a sieve–I could barely remember what doctors had told me five minutes after they’d left the room. “What did they say they think I have?” I’d ask my husband.

And for the tenth time he’d stifle a sigh and say, “Vas-cu-li-tis. They think you have vasculitis.”

“Oh, okay,” I would say, content, as the word and information faded. Ten minutes later, I’d forgotten what they thought I’d had. For some reason, when they said I’d had a stroke a couple days into my hospital stay, THAT really stuck in my brain. “Oh, I had a stroke! But honey? What did they think I had before they found out I had a stroke?”

For the twentieth time he’d stifle a sigh and say, “Vas-cu-li-tis. They thought you had vasculitis.”

My biggest deficit due to the stroke, is verbal short term memory. I score below average in this particular area of brain function.

That means, if you tell me a story, I will probably not remember much of it afterwards. That means if you tell me a list of things I need to do, I will probably not remember that list at all. That means music is just background music. That means books on tape are impossible. That means I’m really glad I’m not in school this semester because so much of classroom instruction is verbal (and involves short term memory).

That means that things literally go in one ear and out the other. It was hell in the hospital trying to remember what everyone was TELLING ME. That is, until one of the therapists told me to start writing stuff down in my notebook. So these days, I am constantly jotting down notes and obsessively (okay, more obsessively) taking picture of things, because my visual short term memory is a bit better than my verbal short term capacity. That means if I SEE something, there is a better chance I’ll remember these short term things than if I HEAR it.

Plus uh, if it’s written down, I can just look at whatever I wrote and “remember” it again.

My husband tells me I wasn’t really very good at verbal short term to begin with, he claims it was my weakest brain function. That’s true–I’d say it was really hard for me to remember what people had told me, and maybe that’s why it’s hard for me to figure out song lyrics. Or ahem, maybe I’m just not a good listener (probably the most accurate assessment) and nothing was wrong with my verbal short term memory).

But I’d like to think I remembered stuff a little longer than what is now about an hour or so.


Filed under Life, The Stroke

Best Buy F’d me up!

Folks, I went to Best Buy this afternoon to try and buy some DVDs (movies, and television shows as so many of you suggested) to relieve my post-stroke boredom. What did I run into? Total chaos.

Then I realized I was totally overwhelmed by all the writing on all of the spines of all the movies they had on all of the shelves. It was sensory overload–before I knew it, the din of all the people there, the loudspeakers, the stereos all became this huge rushing sound. The end result? I was unable to focus at all. I was unable to make any sort of decision. (I feel edgy right now, just remembering the whole scene).

I tried to overcome this difficulty, and grandly browsed up and down the DVD aisles, but the titles of all the DVDs stayed one big blur of words.

In the end, I walked out of there empty handed.

I’ve been trying to regain my equilibrium since.

For now, I will fantasize about the trips I have planned for a couple months out. Mrmmm.


Filed under Life, The Stroke