Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It's three months today since I had my 'brain events' (which sounds a bit like something involving horses). At this point therapy proceeds apace. I'm comfortably ensconced in Dorset, able to do a tiny bit more each day, attending a gym/support group for post-stroke weekly, starting to go to the same gym more often, planning to start swimming; my speech is improving, my vision shows signs of change which I'm taking as a positive. And so on. Slowly I get better; cruelly slowly.

There are two things that are a challenge and seem common amongst the other stroke recipients I've talked to a bit. First is the tiredness; it comes so easily, it stay and it afflicts. It's also holistic. My doctors have said that the brain recovers holistically: doing the cryptic can help balance over the long haul (and for those who have had a significant stroke there is only the long haul).

Similarly with tiredness: I went to the hospital gym for about an hour yesterday and could barely hold a conversation afterwards. Conversely anything involving mental work or stress is totally exhausting. Even looking at disability benefits forms is enough to reduce my ability to walk, or my facility at damping the emotional responses that get in the way of civilised behaviour.

This seem hard for people to understand or remember; I found it easy to remember, because I was living it, but it took me a while to understand well enough to stop being puzzled, The muscles on my right side are very weak, not because of atrophy and wasting, but because the parts of the brain that controlled the musculature on that side are dead: the muscles operate at reduced efficacy. As I use them, I recruit more living nerve tissue to control the muscle and recover strength and utility. This is a slow process, but a neurological one. I can't expect them to recover as fast, or even in the same way as the last time my legs were weakened by bed rest.

The second challenge is almost more debilitating. Everything is harder now, Everything. I have yet to find any single thing I did before my strokes that is not slower, clumsier, and harder than it was. Many things are simply beyond me right now, but of those that I have recovered or I'm in the process of regaining, not one is unaffected. There is nothing I think of doing with ease. 

This will change, I know, as I recover more physical ability and become more accustomed to my new 'normal.,' but for now it is vexing me sorely. When I recall the monumental effort it took to make some of the posts from Mt. Sinai, I'm delighted at the relative facility I have. But daily life outside the strangeness of a therapeutic environment reminds me that I can't just fire off an email nor rattle off a G+ post, reading is hard on the eyes and on the hand holding the book, eating takes work, if I'm distracted while turning I fall over.

As a result I know have to fight a strange inertia: I dislike each fresh discovery of disability. While I'm conscious that everything is an opportunity for therapy and rehabilitation, I've become reluctant to do things that I did routinely at the start of October, and I despise having to explain the particular difficulty I had with an ostensibly simple task.

So if I'm slow(er) to respond, quiet(er) on Google+ and generally a bit more reclusive, forgive me while I retire to a cave to lick my wounds and hibernate. It won't last forever. Meanwhile, it's a gorgeous sunny day, and I should go for a walk. Excuse me while I rustle up an escort.

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