a burst of hope


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.



Filed under Life, The Stroke

12 responses to “a burst of hope

  1. LeRoy Dissing

    Its not just you that was lucky Jade. We all are lucky to have you here. Sounds like you are not only living in the moment more, but reprioritizing what is important…and letting things go that are not. Just know that we are following along with you and learning about how the brain works (or in some cases doesn’t)…all very interesting. Thanks so much for sharing Jade!

  2. Bless your heart, Jade. Your situation really moves me. I’ve been keeping my husband posted. Take care and be well. I know you are going to recover; being present with the way things are is the only way to deal with it as your recovery progresses.

    I’m rooting for you!

  3. w

    I have no doubt that reading and writing have a lot to do with your amazing progress, no matter how frustrating the process for each may seem. Keep up both. Totally awed, glad, and rooting for you.

  4. Ms. Park – I just wanted to let you know that I blogged a link to your site this morning over at Sycamore Review. I found your site via pinkyspaperhaus, and got on it for more than an hour.

  5. Jade, you are lucky. Visualize yourself getting better as you are doing. I had such a good time with you the other day. Even if you don’t remember all the details. Neither do I, really. I just remember the gist of it. And the gist of it–was fun and good.

    Somehow in your post-stroke state, you are still a strategic mastermind.

    You are also very wise. I don’t think strokes affect wisdom.

    I love that Rebekah posted a link to your blog. Yay.

  6. Thank you everyone–it is an amazing and surreal experience to go through this, and everyday I am trying to find meaning in it. Maybe that’s me as a writer trying to analyze events, or that’s just me or my OCD, but I am really happy when I find meaning in these sorts of life events.

    Rebekah: thank you for the link to Sycamore Review! How awesome. 🙂

  7. mel

    I agree with Rose, and it sounds like you’ve already learned a lot.

  8. Congratulations on how far you’ve come in such a short time, Jade! You’ll be reading triple what I read in no time (which won’t be difficult, since I haven’t been reading much lately at all.)

  9. Randa

    Hi sweets.
    I’m so happy to read this. That this was a fluke and that you are gaining a lot from your experience. You inspire me.

  10. Randa: I’m glad to be inspiring–I am trying my best to inspire myself and find meaning in all of this. Surprisingly, it is not as big of a challenge as I thought it would be–for I am finding a lot of lessons.

    bustopher: I hope I can read lots–I am up to 10 pages a day before the words blur. But I am also trying not to be too “cheerful” about it because the stark reality of my limitations cannot be ignored.

  11. heh

    a life without writing. frightening thought.

    thanks for sharing and i’ll get to those questions (re: meme) another day.

  12. Pingback: i can’t hear you « Writing Under a Pseudonym

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