Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Things I Learned on Holiday and since

In a desperate attempt to pretend that all is well in my life, and that I had more or less recovered from the stroke I had in December, I took myself off to Fibre Arts NZ in Whanganui for a week, and from there, for a road trip to Dunedin and back. I learned a lot of hard truths.

  • I still have a lot of recovery to go.
  • I will probably never recover fully, because, you know, dead brain cells are, you know, dead.
  • I can drive for 4.5 hours if I'm fresh, but 2 hours can be too much if I'm not.
  • I need to practise things consistently if I am to be able to do them again: when trying to hand-sew, my fingers did not have sufficient strength to hold the needle tight enough to pull it through more than 3 layers of fabric until the third day - before that I had to use pliers for every such stitch.
  • I still need a break from anything every half hour: driving, stitching, reading, talking.
  • I can multi-task again, but only when I am not stressed, tired, or doing something new. For example, today after being stressed and extremely anxious about something, I struggled to understand Mac's words while we had lunch at a cafe with noise around.
  • Trying to relate to more than 2 or 3 people at once has become almost impossible.
  • The fine motor skills of my right hand rapidly deteriorate after about half an hour of use.
  • I still stutter and lose words when I am stressed or tired.
  • I am a very long way from achieving the state aimed for in my choice of 'fearlessness' for my WOTY (word of the year): in fact, fear is constant and lives very close to the surface. I am constantly aware of how that stroke came out of the blue, when I was feeling the best I had for years. Aware that it could happen again any time. Or something else. Fear not of death, but of incapacitation, mental or physical. Fear of something happening to me, or to those I love. I don't dwell on it, and use mindfulness to ease the anxiety, but awareness of the reality of the possibilities is ever present, even in my sleep, popping up in dreams in weird ways.
On the other hand, I also learned a lot of good truths. 
  • I have recovered a lot.
  • I can drive to the other end of New Zealand and back - as long as I take it a bit slower than I used to.
  • I get more tired, more quickly than pre-stroke, but I no longer get that fall-down-can't-do-anything fatigue that I got for the first 4 months post stroke.
  • When I practice, I get better.
  • My brain has discovered / developed new pathways to my right leg, so it no longer randomly flicks sideways (which it did for the first month), nor even feels like it will (which it did for the next 3.5 months). Which makes driving much more comfortable and less stressful. This resumption of normal sensation happened the day before I got home. 
  • Whales and dolphins are still the most awesome fucking creatures in the world.
  • Gaia (the planet earth) is amazingly, excitingly, uncaringly wonderful and powerful.
  • People matter more than anything else to me.
  • Art is art even when it isn't great art or saleable art - it doesn't matter, just do it!
  • Most people are kind.
  • Most people respond well to being treated kindly.
  • Practice makes better, which is much better than perfect as it leaves room for more growth.
  • I can do a whole heap of totally fucking awesome shit if I want to and I persevere.
  • I want to.
  • I will persevere. 

1 comment:

Debbie said...

I love this awareness of who you are now. of what matters and what you are able to do. and the apparent acceptance of it all, despite the fear. <3