Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Member of the Month!

I've been trying to smile for about 8 months; by which I mean smile with both sides of my mouth. So far I've had no success, but it will come. Sadly, I'll work out the palsy too late for the photo they took of me at the gym yesterday to immortalize me in laminate as "Member of the Month" for August.

Being made Member of the Month was great; it felt like an acknowledgement that I have put in a lot of effort to my recovery, and that although the recovery itself and the improvement in my health and physique are reward enough, the effort did not go unnoticed by the staff at the gym. I tend to be at the gym five days a week, now, and I find that if I slack off, then I deteriorate. I'm still functional, just not as good. I hope at some point to have consolidated some of those gains, but I have no idea how long that might take.

Until then walking evenly is deliberate; it takes conscious effort. I could relax and limp and stagger, but that isn't good enough for me. I guess that's why (and I mean no disrespect to them) I feel some modest kinship with some of the Olympians and Paraolympians. They put in an almost superhuman effort to become the best in the world at what they do, while I'm doggedly plugging away with my above-average work to get back to normal function. They concentrate to nail a landing, I concentrate to land each step.

Gaining an understanding of the level of effort, consistent daily work, required to compete at the level of demigods has spurred me on; I can work harder. I may not be the generation they're talking about, but I'm certainly inspired.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

July Update - Planning My Return

Well, holy crap, it's been nine months since I had the first stroke, so it's that time again. Before the thrilling status update, though, some news or announcements or whatever.

First, I'm aiming to be back in New York early September. There will be some fun times with immigration (they're likely to take away my green card and then give it back), but I'll be back in the city about 11 months after having the stroke, and less than ten since leaving the US for this stage of my recovery.  There are a lot of things I miss about NYC, not least all of you all (in New York), which brings me to:

Second, save the date: 10/11/12 the first anniversary of my brain events is as good a time as any to have a party, especially since it's such a nice date. That's October 11th for you heathens with a sensible date format. More details to follow, as I make them up.

Third, it seems that NYC thinks I am disabled forever, presumably because of the whole brain damage thing. I'm not sure how I feel about that, because although I am currently quite evidently impaired, That's not going to last forever; just a really long time. I guess I don't sit as comfortably with the 'disabled' tag as I thought. On the other hand, I paid a shedload of tax so if there are benefits, I'm the queen for them. I'm also enrolled in Medicaid, which is a good thing for when I get home. No more Mr. Uninsured for me, as I'll be making sure i'm covered for the rest of time.

Finally, I've been thinking hard about what I want to do for the next forty years, and how to make it possible to sustain the level of physical activity I now need. I've come to the conclusion that retraining as a physical therapist (physio in English English) is the way forward, specializing in neurology wherever possible. This is going to be tough, because my two undergraduate degrees are largely useless (except for statistics), so I will almost certainly have to fill a bunch of undergraduate credits before I can apply for the DPT programs sensibly. That's not such a bad thing, since I couldn't in good conscience say that I'm physically capable of the work required today, but a year or two of being an undergraduate would give me even more time to recover. Paying for it all remains an open question.

So, on to the stroke recovery round-up. I'm getting stronger, my walking is better, my face shows positive signs, I'm certain my double vision is improving, the tremor has decreased slightly, but it's still a giant pain, and I'm in much better spirits. Acupuncture continues to be beneficial, as do Pilates and Tai Chi. Perversely, realizing that as of today I couldn't physically do a DPT degree has made me more determined than ever to be fit and strong enough and to have the motor control I will need.