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.

The day of my stroke, I was out of town in the mountains. Though I felt incredibly strange and distressed by what we now realize was “The Stroke,” I didn’t go to the hospital. It’s hard to measure normality under vacation scenarios, in which one is not pushed at all, and where one has no basis for comparison for one’s capabilities. (does that make sense? I hope so). Anyway, I just didn’t go to the hospital. The next day, we came back home and spent the day traveling–so Tuesday January 2nd was the first day home. I woke up and decided not to go to work “because I wasn’t feeling normal and wanted to rest.”

I decided to go to the grocery store (our house was out of groceries after a 2 week trip to the mountains)–and to put it succinctly, I was completely overwhelmed by all the labels and all the words in teh store. It’s hard to explain it any other way, but I stood there mesmerized by all the labels, which eventually became a messy blur in my head. I couldn’t figure out what to buy (it makes sense now that my short term memory was so screwed up that I couldn’t keep the grocery list in my head), and emerged from the store with a jar of Muir Glen spaghetti sauce and nothing else (bravo to Muir Glen for getting a stroke victim to buy their spaghetti sauce!).

I didn’t even NEED spaghetti sauce, but that’s all I managed to buy. I don’t even know WHY I bought spaghetti sauce, and how long I wandered the store. But when I emerged from the store, I realized something was terribly wrong with me. Terribly. Wrong.

I drove home, bewildered at my state of mind, my foggy mind beginning to realize I needed to ask for help. When I got home, I decided I needed to go to the hospital, or at least to the doctor. I googled my doctor online and called–they were on lunch break. I wanted to call my husband, but then realized I could not recall his phone number. Who could I call? I realized I remembered NO phone numbers at all, and that I therefore had NO ONE to call for help.

I sat at home, feeling a bit numb, not even panicked (this stroke has me feeling so ignorant at times that I don’t feel panic, even at crucial moments). Who could I call? After awhile, a phone number popped into my head–a phone number I did not recognize. I figured, “Well, if the phone number popped in my head, it’s probably a phone number I call all the time, and whoever it is might help me.”

So numbly, I dialed it. A man picked up and started chatting with me. “Who is this?” I asked.

It was my husband. He asked me what was going on.

“I just called because this phone number was in my head,” I said.

He said he would immediately come home and take me to the hospital. That’s how I ended up at the hospital.

Oh what was I talking about? (Scrolling up) I see I was talking about what taxes and invigorates me. (Sorry, my mind is like jelly and I keep rambling and I can’t keep on topic! I hate it, I hate it!). In correlation to the whole grocery store and best buy scene, the other day i went to a bookstore and felt invigorated there. Strange. I will have to write about that.

But the weird thing is that I was going to write about my tastebuds when I started this post. Tastebuds as in my appetite has flown out the window these days. Where before I was a total foodie, I find very little pleasure in food. It’s awful, I want to love food again, but can’t remember to eat, and can’t figure out WHAT to eat, and nothing tastes as good as I remember it. And I just eat a lot less because this desire has been so greatly diminished. Is that a part of me that’s changed?

On one hand, i don’t mind eating a bit less. On the other hand, I’ve lost a great pleasure center in my life.

Um. Okay. I’m ending this post, because I am rambling on and on and going in weird directions and I’m embarrassed about the writing here.Β  Yes, it is the WORST written post of mine EVER!Β  And it must end.



Filed under The Stroke

22 responses to “tastebuds

  1. Bless your heart. Please don’t be embarrassed. I followed you (but I tend to ramble). I am grateful that you’re sharing your story and your process with us. Alison T and I talked of you with love today.

    Thanks so much for having the courage to get it all onto the page.

  2. I just wonder Jade if all senses were affected to some degree….taste, touch, sight, hearing, smell….that is not remembering them; the pleasant and the unpleasant ones.

  3. I’ve had sensory-overload experiences in loud, noisy places. Once, when I was studying music composition, my professor gave us an assignment to go to six vastly different places and just listen. Close your eyes, listen, and write about what you listen.

    The ones I did in the street at night, in a classroom, and, I think it was, on a bus, they were all fine. But the one I did at a crowded shopping mall, that one almost made me sick. I was dizzy, anxious, and overwhelmed. So I’m not surprised the grocery story was a stressor for you.

    Anyway, I’m impressed at how well you’re doing at this point. It’s amazing. I’m also impressed with just how many people are commenting here and pulling for you!

  4. Lucy

    On the contrary, jade, this material is fascinating and coherent.

    Your brain, mind and soul is going on such a unique journey that few people are aware of and that no one (that I know of) has broached.

    This is beyond Murakami-esque, and your approach is so matter-of-fact to such an amazing story that one can’t help but be drawn in by the very honest writing about such a personal and interesting subject.

    you have the makings of a remarkable body of work on your hands that people will want to read.

  5. You are all such gracious friends and readers. Thank you. Yesterday was truly an odd day and I am really grateful that I can write about and review such events here with wonderful support. πŸ™‚

  6. I used to take writing classes that used to call these kinds of ideas we have when we trail off into another idea “the Slauson cut-off.” Starting out on one path and going off in an unexpected direction is accepted part of the process of writing, according to this method. Not only is “taking the Slauson cut-off” accepted, it is encouraged and valued. In so many ways, Jade, you are taking the Slauson Cut-off: in life, with the particular peice you wrote here in this blog, and with your “stroke writing” in general, which is becoming its own body of work, as Lucy wisely put it. You are still doing the work of a writer, through it all.

  7. wildguppy: fascinating. i am not one to “go off the beaten path” willingly, so that’s an interesting concept: i am off the beaten path, “going off in an unexpected direction.”

    maybe there is a purpose to all of this!

  8. Hi!
    As one stroke survivor to another – I definately relate to your writings. I have found myself drawn more t writing now than ever before – I wrote well before the stroke struck, but not as creatively as now. I am glad you have made it as far as you have – if you would like to visit with others who have had strokes (it helps fill the time) please visit http://www.strokeboard.net – you’ll find me there as hostmel or you can visit my blog where I talk about my stroke.
    All the best to you – feel free to email anytime

  9. Wow–I did not know about strokeboard.net–thank you so much for reaching out and for sharing. There is ONE “stroke support group for young adults” support group at my hospital, which meets once a month and requires a 6 month advance registration. That means I cannot enroll until June, so I VERY much apprecite your reaching out.

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  14. tlaine

    Hello, thank you so much for writing this. My mother had a stroke in March and she’s having a hard time adjusting to the changes, especially her tastebuds. I hope you are doing well.

  15. Hi tlaine–I’m glad it helps others. πŸ™‚ The tastebuds and appetite will come back.

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  17. dortheia

    i had a left side stroke in feb. 2008 the day i had it i was working i took two aspirins and kept on working i was use to headaches. the following sat. i fell at home i went to hosp. next day and they told me i had a stroke. i went back to work in three mos. then june 13th of last year, i had another stroke a brain stem stroke that affects your senses,etc. and especially taste buds. i am like you nothing taste good even water. i have to smell things to make sure they are ok but even then i would not know. it seems i can eat bacon, ham, and eggs and toast some spaghetti sauces i can get down. i love to eat, but now i have to force myself, because i am diabetic. i will eat some small pretzels if i get hungry for a snack. i wish i could find a way of correcting this screwed up mess in my brain. anyone else have had this.

    • Hi dortheia:

      Does NOT sound like fun. 😦 I’m sorry about your experience, and hope that you have support in your recovery.

      My appetite and ability to enjoy/crave food did eventually come back! I don’t think there’s much we can specifically do to facilitate the return of the ability to taste, but I found that as I worked on my recovery, all my senses/abilities eventually returned, even if some came back more slowly than others.

      I think my short-term memory capabilities and my coping mechanisms might have had the toughest time returning…but they all did.

      There are some things very different for me now, with regard to taste: for example, I used to HATE beer, and now I love it. πŸ˜›

  18. Shanti

    I hope you continue to recover and you continue to write. I can relate.

    • Thank you, Shanti. I have fully recovered, and the experience of the stroke has opened up entirely new realms of thought and feeling. If you can relate, I assume you are in a similar place, and so I wish you the same! πŸ™‚

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