To be honest, I have been a bit miserable in my inability to write creatively. It just takes a whole lot of cognitive energy, a lot of this and that, and my brain just can’t take it these days. Even my reading of creative work has been dismal–at first, I couldn’t read it at all, then I could read about a paragraph (before I had to start over because I forgot what the hell I was reading about), and then I could read about a page (before I had to reread the page which made it just me reading a page over and over again), and now I can read about 3 pages before my brain fizzles out.

Yes, I see it as constant improvement, but for someone who can read HUNDREDS of pages a day (pre-stroke anyway) this is just so disappointing! But yes, it is constant improvement, and I have to keep telling myself that. These days, I live day by day and rejoice over small steps. Just like (my other “favorite” activity) running–when every step can be really painful. But just like (my other “favorite” activity) running, I do look back to see how far I’ve come. And I’ve come a long way since the day of the stroke. I can hold things in my head for longer than a minute, expanding the reaches of my short term memory. That sort of stuff.

But you see, it’s still miserable at times. And I try very hard to let myself feel bad if I do feel bad–one thing I have learned is that instead of holding all the bad feelings back and then succombing to chronic depression, letting myself feel in real time is a wiser thing for my own health.

Um, but that means I feel bad very often. I feel bad about the school semester starting without me. I feel bad about not being able to write creatively. I feel bad about the whole world speeding along, and me cruising along at low speed. I feel crummy. I feel bad about friendships, even still. Even though I know I’m mostly okay and will be! But that’s beside the point.

The other night I went websurfing–my husband was in bed, the dogs were in bed, and I was up and wide awake, my hands fluttering with anxiety. So I went on the internet and just started clicking here and there and here. Just aimlessly.

Pretty soon I found myself on this website where I’d found my name. It was the name of a writing contest I’d entered awhile back–and a writing contest I knew I had not won (they let me know by letter). It was a longshot, I never expected to win.  But then what was my name doing there? Well, it turns out I was a finalist in the contest–one of the 15 finalists out of 509 fiction entries.

Sheeit! That was awesome.  (But why didn’t they tell me in the freaking results letter?)

Life throws you bones when you need them.



Filed under Life, The Stroke, Writing

12 responses to “Finalist

  1. nequila

    Congratulations, Jade. ^-^ You really must give yourself more credit…

  2. mel

    Congratulations! You should be very, very proud of yourself.

  3. I emailed congrats privately, but here’s looking at you again! I’m very proud of you.

  4. w

    Woo! This story will find a home soon, for sure.

  5. Jade, by the way – I know your progress in reading and healing must seem agonizingly slow

    but here’s some perspective. It has been barely over two weeks since you had a stroke. You have not been out of the hospital more than ten days I believe. You have gone from not reading at all, to reading a paragraph, to a page, to three pages. All in (by my count) 18 days.

    This is great progress and it means you will be back to your normal self. Right now it seems like forever, but it will happen. You will get there.

    If you can stand to ease up on yourself, let go of worrying about your faculties, and baby yourself completely, you will feel much better about the recovery process.

    You’ve had an enormous crisis (on top of some other ones that were not insignificant). You need time to heal. You are doing really well and it is very, very early. Don’t push yourself.

    You’ll get there! Remember Samina Ali (two brain hemorrhages after childbirth, a week-long COMA, a bunch of other stuff, and then she finished and published her novel). Because of the progress you’re making, it’s clear that you WILL recover from this, as she did.

  6. congrats! that must have felt great. I’d like to read your stuff! added you to my blogroll

  7. I was so excited when I read Elmaz’s letter. You should be so proud of yourself! That is a major accomplishment–out of 509 entries!

  8. I think this is fantastic timing, and very well deserved. Brava! Brava!

  9. Thank you, everyone–it’s very heartening to have been awarded in such a way–and thank you all for supporting me. Now, I just have to work my way back there (and onward).

    Yes, the timing is perfect–had I known this in mid-December when the news first hit, it would not have had as great an impact as hearing it while stroke-ridden and in a malaise!

    Leonessa in particular, thank you for the encouragement. Yes, my progress seems slow day to day, but yes it is progressingly rapidly.

  10. Woohoo! Congratulations Jade on being a finalist! Leonessa’s right on this. Jade, you are healing by leaps and bounds. Your improvement is steady. I can’t believe you are able to blog. That is amazing. You will heal. You are healing. Keep thinking positive thoughts. Visualize yourself healed.

  11. Feeling shitty is normal in this circumstance, as long as you’re not despairing. I talked to my girlfriend (she’s a doctor) about your stroke, and she said she supposed that if you are aware enough to want to write again, you eventually will be able to. Hell, people who’ve been blind since childhood can even develop sight with the right care and treatment. The brain is a scary piece of machinery, really… it can bounce back from all kinds of damage and disuse.

    You’re going to be writing again sometime. And you’re going to be different. It’s going to be weird when you see yourself again. Your brain is going to rebuild itself, and I suspect it will be fascinating for you. And by the way, only a couple of weeks afterward, you seem pretty well off. Trust me, I’ve provided care to (older) people recovering from strokes, and they weren’t even in a state to lament their lost abilities. They were more like… zombies.

    Ack, I just reinstalled Linux on my PC, so no Hangeul input on my PC at the moment, and so I’ll type this in Roman letters:

    Himnae, Jade-sshi, himnae!

  12. Hi gord–thank you. I know that my progress is astronomically fast, and I am super-thankful for that. In a way, the stroke never hit certain writing centers, it seems–so while I forget a phone call I made to a friend a few days ago, and while I forget the reminders said to me (that I have to now write down), I can still write, at least in the moment, and I know I’ll be able to write again (I can feel it).

    You are right, I am FASCINATED by the way my brain is rebuilding itself. The MRI showed a DEAD SPOT in my brain, yet everyday I see the results of new pathways around that dead spot.

    Tomorrow I go to ‘speech therapy’ (which is really a broad thing and will also teach me how to deal with my memory issues), and we’ll see.

    So yes, in short, I am progressing, but in my own impatience, it’s never fast enough. I’m upset that I even had this setback at all. But I do try to look back and see how far I have come.

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