Monday, March 11, 2013

Spring 2013 Monthly Update

It's time for another monthly update, and I looked back at my first March update for an idea of how I've progressed. In one thing, my weight, I've taken a step backwards, since I'm heavier now than I was then, but my pants (trousers) still fit, and I'm pretty sure some of that weight is muscle mass, since I am stronger now than I was then: I have the record from the last ASPIRE session, and where I was doing a lat pulldown of about 35lb (it was all in kg), now I do them at 140lb. Also, I'm pretty sure I couldn't do two sets of eight pull-ups then, so by that simple measure things have improved.

A friend pointed out at a birthday party on Saturday that I seem to do much better on pull exercises than on push ones. Apart from the fact that we were talking about fitness at a pancake party, this makes a lot of sense: the push exercises I do are almost all dumbbell exercises that take more stabilization than the pull exercises which tend towards raw strength. If I can strengthen the stabilizing muscles with pull exercise, then I might be able to accelerate recovery of the pushing motions. The push is already improving though; a 20lb dumbbell bench press is now as stable as a 10lb once was, and a 30lb dumbbell press as stable as a 20 used to be (not very).

I used to be able to bench over 200lb, but barbell exercises tend to use more weight, anyway, and I went and had a bunch of strokes, so it's no great surprise that I'm just managing 30% of that weight with dumbbells. Another reminder that comparing my performance to that of 20 years ago is stupid, futile, and a sure way to be disheartened. Now, I just make sure I'm improving week on week.

When I wrote an update a year ago, it was before the neuro-ophthalmologist said my eyesight and balance wouldn't improve and I said that:
My guess is that the maculae will get lined up first, so I have binocular vision at the focal point, and then the eyes will work on twisting so they have the same horizon, and my hope is that somewhere in there, the oscillopsia will go away. Hope springs eternal.
I still think I am right and the neurologist wrong, because my balance has improved, and my diplopia is gradually improving, contradicting him. The diplopia is muscular, so I still see no reason why it shouldn't continue to get better. Unfortunately it's pretty binary, like the tremor: it can improve lots, but until it's gone, it's as wretched as ever. I'm going to try to post soon about how I see the world at the moment, which might explain why, although these posts seem cogent enough (I hope!), working is extremely hard. I wouldn't hire me!

The irritation with nomenclature must be seasonal, because it bugged me a year ago, too. I still think it matters, though: once you've established the cause of a stroke, and are treating it, the person concerned is left dealing with the brain damage, and that's the more significant long-term thing. It also means that we can recover. As I've said before, if I'm outpacing a baby born when I had the stroke, I'm happy.

I'm doing less physically than I was a year ago, on paper, but at the same time I'm trying to lead a regular New York City life. It turns out that my life back in Dorset relied very heavily on other people doing things for me, and a lot of sitting down recuperating. Here in NYC, I've found that I don't yet have the endurance to lead a full, busy existence, so I'm getting used to leaving early, caffeinating with care and exercising a bit less, while working a bit harder generally.

On the material plane, things are rough. I just heard it's going to be at least a month before I get any Disability Insurance loot, and even then it's not certain. That means its normal for the process to last nearly a year after an event. (Six months before you can apply, then four months processing, then at least a month handling, plus go-see-our-doctor trips.) This is insurance for people who can't work; I have no idea how anyone is expected to go a year without income. I've survived through the generosity and kindness of family and friends, I don't know how else one does it.

The wait puts me in a strange sort of Schrödinger's Cat state of being broke now, but potentially fine in a month or so, which is weird and uncomfortable. I hate not being able to get my metaphorical round in, but I have to accept my reality at the moment, just as I accept that I can't go out without a stick, my fight hand sends coffee flying, and my eyes are weird. For now!