I had just finished my balance exercises. Somehow, during the stroke my brain’s wiring got all jumbled up and balance was one of the things that got fried. This is true for many stroke survivors. So as much as I can, I have added balance exercises to my daily routine. I look kinda funny standing in a corner eyes closed, wobbling precariously. Brain rewiring is not a glamorous job.
Balance has always been elusive to me (heck, I can’t even balance my checkbook. HA) I look really funny riding a bike. My boys always teased me about getting training wheels. As I relearn how physically balance, I am also learning how to have balance in other aspects of my life. I am now a much slowed down version of myself, so planning and balance is essential. There was a time where I could get caught up in reading a book for hours. And still be able to be ready to get the boys to where they need to go. Now, I need to be cognizant of the amount of time I do things. I can spend a good of time reading, watching t.v. or surfing the internet, but those activities will not help me get better. I put in time to workout, write, work on my hand and fingers and stretching (this helps with getting my movement back). I need to once again be a productive member of society. How do I fit all of these in one day? How do you keep balance in your life?
” But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed, but not defeated” – Ernest Hemingway
The word “plateau” is one that brings fear to athletes. By definition PLATEAU is to reach a state of little or no change after a time of activity or progress. But for athletes, to reach a plateau in their training means they now have the challenge of having to change up their training. For runners it might be adding hill repeats, adding fartleks to their routine or simply cross training. This are what athletes do when faced with a lack of progress. They do not see the lack of progress as a time to quit, instead it is an opportunity to establish a new routine so they can better themselves.
Apparently for some doctors, physical therapist and of course insurance companies a plateau is the time to just quit. To give up and lose hope. When i left the rehab facility, the neurologist and the psychologist both told us that I have six moths to regain what I have to regain. After the six month mark, I am just to accept whatever progress (or lack of) I have and learn to live with it. I have to admit, hearing that was scary and painful. I was not going to accept that I will be in a wheelchair forever. I was so afraid to hit the 6 month mark, that I worked hard to start walking again.
I had made a lot of progress during the first six moths,but I knew I had a long way to go. I kept working on getting myself better. There would be moments when i felt stuck. I went to my Neurologist with questions. I would ask her for ways to improve, for ways to retrain my brain.
Her response every time would be “You have plateaued. There is not much you can do.” What I heard was “The insurance company have determined that you are on your own. Good luck” What I did was researched, asked questions and worked harder. I found out about Botox, acupuncture,E-stim all of which helped. But the work is still up to me. There has been many bumps along the road. I get frustrated, I hurt emotionally and physically. But I keep going. As much I would like for there to have a “miracle” cure, I know there isn’t one. There are research currently being done on how to rewire the brain, but for now I only have hard work to count on. It has crossed my mind to participate in different trials and I probably will if I find one that I would feel most comfortable with.
If given the opportunity, would you participate in an experimental treatment?
I will keep asking my doctors questions, I will keep working hard. I have proven doctors wrong in the past and I plan on doing more of that in the future.
When you hear about a person whose had a stroke what is the picture that comes to you?
Many times when someone asks me about my stroke, I get these reactions: “You are too young to have had stroke!” or “you look good for someone whose had a stroke.”
If you had asked me a couple of years ago what I think a stroke “victim” would look like, I would have said “old, wheelchair bound and frail.”
I had never pictured myself a stroke survivor. Other than high blood pressure, which I thought I had under control, I did not think I was at risk for a stroke. I lived a healthy, active life. I am learning now that stroke does not discriminate.
These are the faces of stroke: Men and women of all ages, from all walks of life. All of them fighting, surviving, thriving.
I would like to thank the men and women who shared their pictures so I can hopefully change public perception about stroke survivors.