ahem. still tired. but nothing a few lazy days won’t fix–that’s to come in a few days.
Monthly Archives: February 2007
No blog posts these days–I have been VERY tired and unfocused due to a social obligation of mine that has my house crowded with guests each evening. Everyday I gear my mind up to the big event and there is room for very little else. Tonight is the last night of my social responsibilities–and so I am allowing myself to wind down and relax as much as I can.
I only suppose writing is part of that relaxation–for my initial post ended right here. But then I realized there was so much more I wanted to say and write, and to hold it back became unbearable, like holding my breath. As a writer, sometimes the only way I can really say what I need to say, aka The Truth, is through writing. So here goes.
Last night, I turned to my husband and said, “I think I’m back to Week 4 [of recovery],” feeling my exhaustion in the fuzzy edges of my brain. I could feel my cognitive abilities decline–I’d look at the writing on the back of my hand (yes, where I write so many reminders in a frenzy) and none of it made sense. “Dog?” Why would I write “Dog?” What was it about the dog that I had to do? And I’m forgetting things said to me in conversation. I’m back to “Week 4,” walking in a deeper fog.
Still, this social obligation has been quite fun and stimulating, and I’m interested in how it will lead my recovery. Last week’s visit from my mom sped my recovery and now I wonder if this weekend has entirely erased the progress. And the week ahead will be a fast hitting week, too: a short plane trip out of town and a relentless social calendar that won’t let up for days. Of course, I am not willing to part with any of it. Don’t convince me otherwise. (You may support and encourage me to tackle it all, however. :P)
Compound this physical demand with the fretting I’ve been doing about friendships these days (post to come, I think). I’m adjusting to the concept of (previously?) close friends who have just utterly abandoned me, who have drawn a line in the sand and said, “I will not go over this line to be with you where you are.” At this point, to be honest, I don’t care about their reasons even though I have spent quite a lot of time trying to convince myself, “Those are their limits, Jade.”
Why should I be 100% understanding? I’ve tried that path, and nothing changes. It really really hurts. It makes me angry to be abandoned. Do I channel this anger and hurt towards their behavior…or do I maybe do a post on “how to be a friend to someone who’s sick?” to help others? Or maybe forget it all (yah right).
As for my awful speech therapy: I’ve cancelled my appointments with The Awful Speech Therapist and am waiting back for a call on the other speech therapist’s availability. Apparently…there are only TWO…in this semi-urban town! It has now been over a month and a half since my stroke and I STILL have no regular speech therapist.
I am ANGRY about that. Do I really have to go about my recovery all alone? Clearly, the answer is YES. I am fumbling through this dark room and knocking things about, when a guide has been promised to me. And yet the guide has not shown up. I am ANGRY about that. I am angry that I already feel so alone, only to be compounded by the fact that help that should arrive, never does.
By the time I do get a speech therapist, she really WILL say, “Oh you LOOK FINE. You don’t NEED ME.” And I will seethe.
So how to sum up how I’ve been feeling? I was thinking of an analogy or a description the other day when my husband and I went through a tunnel with the top down on the car. The wind noise was incredible, the vision decreased. I could see ahead to a little white light at the end of the tunnel–and that became my focal point, the only clear thing in my mind amidst the noise and blurring vehicles. I tried to talk, but could not be heard. I settled into the white noise, unable to overcome it.
When we emerged from the tunnel, in sunlight and finally rid of the noise, fresh air pounding our faces, I turned to my husband and said, “THAT is how it feels like sometimes.”
A friend of mine, also suffering from a brain injury with fantastically similar symptoms to those of my stroke, shared some of her tendencies with me. “I buy the same books over and over!” she exclaimed, throwing her arms up in frustration.
I bought two copies of About Alice by Calvin Trillin last week. I’d had no idea I did that–I didn’t remember buying the previous copy weeks ago. I simply brought home the more current copy and proceeded to read it. After a few days of diligent reading, I closed the book, very satisfied by its short but meaningful experience. I’d even bookmarked pages with meaningful quotes. And I was pleased to add it to my booklist. Number TWO! It was the first book I’d FINISHED since my stroke. Yes, it’s a short book, but it COUNTS.
A couple days went by–and I went looking for the book again, with the intention of looking up the quotes and writing them down. I found a copy and mysteriously, it had NO bookmarks at all on it. Furthermore, it was an autographed copy. What? Had I entered a new dimension? Then it dawned on me. “Sheeeit! I bought TWO copies! Damnit!” My short term memory deficit was rearing its head again.
I was both tickled and stunned by my discovery.
It took me awhile to find the other copy, but there it was, on the coffee table in the den, just as I had left it (at which point I remembered, “Oh yah. That’s where I put it last.”)
Here are the quotes:
This was a dozen years after Alice had been operated on for lung cancer,and among the things she wrote to our friend’s daughter was that having lung cancer and being raped were comparable only in that both were what she called “realizations of our worst nightmares.” She said that there was some relief at surviving what you might have thought was not survivable. “No one would ever choose to have cancer or be raped,” she wrote. “But you don’t get to choose, and it is possible at least to understand what Ernest Becker meant when he said something like ‘To live fully is to live with an awareness of the rumble of terror that underlies everything,’ or to begin to understand the line in ‘King Lear’–‘Ripeness is all.’ You might have chosen to become ripe less dramaticaly or dangerously but you still can savor ripeness.”
And on p. 72:
Alice loved Bruno’s letter. For her, of course, the measure of how you held up in the face of a life-threatening illness was not how much you changed but how much you stayed the same, in control of your own identity.
I wish I could have met Alice. She was a survivor whose experience with cancer gave her a depth of understanding and compassion that Trillin truly touches on.
These days, I’m looking to role models as well as so many other guiding posts. I don’t want to be the kind of sick person who only talks about HERSELF and can’t help others (yes, this despite the blog where I uh, only talk about myself really). So I have a heightened sense of how much I talk about myself to people–I try to limit talk about my stroke (though it’s inevitable that we touch upon the subject).
Now I am looking forward to future behavior–what kind of person do I want to be? What will I do with these lessons?
I may have another stroke again. I am lucky–I had a TIA (a milder version of stroke) a few years back, and who knew that there would be a bigger, longer lasting recurrence, in the form of a stroke? Really, I shrugged off the possibility years ago, “Nah, I won’t have another one. This one was a fluke!” In a few weeks, I will be going in for surgery to close the hole in my heart that may have led to the stroke.
Life is unpredictable.
I think I will always schedule an uplifting appointment on the same days as speech therapy appointment days, which heave an unpredictable mood onto me. Speech therapy has sent me into the doldrums and it has also been a marker of great progress. It’s become such a marker of mood that I’ve used it as a basis of comparison for my other medical appointments, all of which gleam in comparison. Regardless, I’m realizing it’s definitely a moody experience to confront my weaknesses point blank for an hour nonstop, especially when I’ve spent the rest of my living days hiding them from the universe. There is nothing so gritty as facing my deficits head on.
The worst thing is that as time goes on, I’m getting better at hiding my cognitive weaknesses and becoming more resistant to unveiling them. It HURTS. It SMARTS. I don’t want to show someone that I still do not think the way I want to think, and that my memory, for instance, still sucks.
I have gotten a lot better, but there is still some way to go–and maybe this is it. In that case, I need some tools to help me compensate.
Today, I got a new therapist, because my prior therapist has moved on (why? I do not know–but last week, my 2nd appointment, was her last day). I liked my previous speech therapist–she had such a balance of cheer and reality. Plus, she’s been with me since the beginning, and knows from where I’ve progressed. This new therapist? I hate her.
I know–really, should I hate someone so point blank? But I do. She talked a mile a minute–it took all my patience to comprehend her, and it left me short tempered. Was she new at this? How could people undergoing speech therapy understand someone who spoke so quickly? She also liked to tell me (as she told me every 3 sentences), “I’m not sure how to do this, but…”
That wasn’t building my confidence in her.
She said I looked fine. Grrr. THAT is my pet peeve, to be told, “You don’t LOOK like you’ve had a stroke! You should be able to do this.” She really said that. I was blindsided by her comment, and my eyes welled up with tears. But could I cry in front of her? No way. I gritted my teeth.
Elizabeth, over at Fluent, has compiled a little (but valuable) list of literary magazine resources on her blog. This list inclues ZYZZYVA‘s post on a list of nearly 2,000 litmags. I’d say it lists every litmag in existence, except for the fact that I don’t see Small Spiral Notebook there for some reason.
I was a little quiet here last week because my mom came to visit while my husband was out of town–a functional visit of sorts: she was here to keep me company and “babysit” but of course she came to see me, her first visit since my stroke over a month ago. It’s not that she didn’t want to visit sooner, it’s that I couldn’t manage a crowded household and I told her to hold off on seeing me until I was better.
I remember telling her via phone from my hospital bed that she needed to stay home. I wondered how I would handle a crowded household and felt overstimulated just by the thought of managing several voices pointed at my very fuzzy head. “Please,” I remember telling her, “Stay home. I can’t handle multiple voices, and I will ask you to come up when I am better.”
Miraculously, my mom eventually acquiesced and waited patiently (and since I’m not a parent myself I can’t fathom the amount of patience required on her part to not come rushing to my side). She is a nurse, and somehow, she managed to click that part of herself on and see me as a patient who needed quiet time to heal. When I did call weeks later to ask her to come visit me, she said “YES!” before I even finished my invitation.
“But Mom? Don’t you have to make sure your calendar is clear?” I asked.
“I’ll be there!” she shouted on the phone, leaving no doubt that she would wayside any conflicts. And leaving no doubt in my mind that she had been waiting for me to invite her to come see me.
I think her visit pushed my recuperation a bit farther–did we do anything mindblowing? No. We went grocery shopping, we ate, we shopped, we conversed, we went for walks. We did the normal mother/daughter things–nothing earthshattering but somehow it pushed my healing forward.
There were things my mom did for me that were amazing. She told me stories–how did she know that hearing stories would awaken my storytelling brain? They were not fairytales, but stories about friends and our family–narratives with a beginning, middle, and end, with fully developed characters. They were so inspiring, and the storyteller in my mind started to awaken. I rushed to write them down right after she told them to me–so distrustful am I of my forgetful mind these days, and so precious the stories. “Mom! They are so inspiring!” I would say, “Can you just imagine what went on in his head? Why he would do such a thing!”
“Yes,” said my mom. “That’s why I told you that story, so your mind would wake up.”
Now, as I type this, I’m nearly in tears at her thoughtfulness, and at the way she cares so much about me as a writer to have come with stories to tell–to lure the storyteller out of me again. Okay–no longer am I nearly in tears. I am in tears, the cheers rolling down my cheeks, thinking about this huge gift, days later.
btw–Happy Lunar New Year, everyone! It is now the year of the (Golden) Pig, and I’m looking forward to a new fortune. My goal for today is to get me a big bowl of Korean dduk gook (rice cake soup) to kick off the year.
Update: My father, like W’s at Loud Solitude was born in the year of the pig. I have had my conflicts with him, but also have a HUGE connection to him (and I credit him with much of my writing inspiration) so I feel that is the kind of year I will have: one full of passion and inspiration and successful connections.
I wonder, at this point, about my stroke, which occurred, technically, in 2006 on New Year’s Eve…but the aftereffects of which I have carried on into 2007 and now the year of the Pig. What fortune does this new development carry? Did it prophylactically fulfill “bad luck” and do I now run free, with the feeling that lightning will not stroke twice?
The above questions are significant in that they do set a mood for the year ahead.
What a way to end/begin a year…and I look forward to the journey ahead. What WILL the new year bring?