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.
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.
Halfway through the day, after I’d gotten to campus to run all those errands and then realized I had forgotten the books for return, I surmised my lesson of the day: Humility. Not humiliation, but humility. Being humble and giving my condition respect is something that looms large in my life.
I forget stuff, and I make more mistakes than ever, and that’s just the way it is for now. The morning campus scene was peaceful, and I ran into one or two people, briefly chatting. I ran through my errands, cursing myself for forgetting the books, but somehow resolving in my head that that stuff happens. Stuff happens. I forget. I went home.
I got online and chatted with my buddy who gave me great encouragement, the kind that makes a writer think that this whole new line of life events has opened up another door. I ended the chat feeling spectacular–and now I just wish she felt spectacular too, even though I don’t know what it is I gave her. But I send her a thank you for making me feel that way, and I wish something will make her feel spectacular too.
I met my Sifu/fitness guru at his gym–I surprised him when I walked through the door, and he hugged me with the kind of hug that I have yet to experience in my life! An intense gripping hug, the kind that tells you physically that this person never wants to let you go for his entire lifetime. I was surprised. “D–, you are embarrassing me!” I had to tell him. But he hugged me three more times, just like that, and I wondered if he would ever let me go. “D–, you are EMBARRASSING ME! GET AHOLD OF YOURSELF!” I had to holler. But I think I was smiling, and he was smiling for sure.
Then my buddy came in for her appointment, and for a few minutes, it was the three of us in our nice little world.
I really should have ended the day there because that was the wonderful part of my day.
From there, I left the grips of the gym and headed back to campus, determined to return the library books. I ran into two peers outside of the library–one of whom I consider a friend in the program. We sat there chatting when the other person came up to us to chat.
Instead of wondering what we were chatting about, she started a new subject, one that I was unfamiliar with. I felt totally left out. She knew I’d had a stroke, she knew other facts about me too (that I couldn’t really read tons of fiction and I couldn’t write fiction just yet) because I’d run into her earlier in the day on my first run of errands at school. I guess she was done with me.
I just sat there lamely–I’m not good with comebacks these days–not so quick with my words. I guess I’ve found another function for the thalamus: the “thinking on your feet skill.” I SUCK at that now! Bleah. So they kept talking about their school things and I tried to keep up.
At some time I mentioned that my short term memory was shot (I think i was apologizing for not remembering something). She replied, “I wish I had that as an excuse at school!”
It pierced me quick and left me breathless and…ANGRY. I couldn’t think of what to say, and I sat there stunned, staring at her, wondering why she didn’t understand that she’d just hurt my feelings. I felt so lame. Because I couldn’t figure out what to say or do (thanks to the disappearance of the “thinking on your feet skill,”) I got up and abruptly left.
I went home and wrote her an email, with the help of a friend:
This is “Jade,” emailing you again. I wanted to let you know that you really hurt my feelings this afternoon when you said, “I wish I had that [short term memory issues] as an excuse!”
i walked away after you said that, because I was overwhelmed by the sentiment of your statement, whether you meant it as a joke or not. I didn’t know what to say to you (another facet of my stroke is that I cannot think of things to say when caught offguard, especially since I was just having a nice chat with XXXX uptil that point). I did stay for awhile hoping that you would realize you hurt my feelings.
I assume you didn’t mean it this way, but please know that I am dealing with a serious disability and have shortcomings that are not visible to the world. It is not my choice to have to take a leave of absence from school and I doubt you would want to trade places with me and be dealing with the aftermath of a stroke.
I am not able to write fiction or read more than a few pages at a time–it’s been a horrible and shocking change, especially after being in grad school. But I am recovering, and hope to rejoin the MFA program.
Good luck to you this year,
I’m learning that I’ve got to pick up more survival skills when I interface to the world, post-stroke. Or rather, that maybe I’m not ready to interface to people outside of my very close friends and coworkers (who are pretty much all friends). I’m not ready yet. And now I do not regret at all my decision to take a leave of absence from school this semester.
So now, for the first time, I’m grateful for my little room here in my house where I can be bored. Yes.