This post is dedicated to all of you that kept tabs on me during my social media/blog hiatus (THANK YOU!) and those who just wonder why I disappeared for so long.
In January, I never thought I’d be writing this in July. I really didn’t mean to blow you all off, it was nothing personal. Please forgive me.
Each time I was asked what was going on, I said too much to type and too many people to fill in – I’ll write a post soon when things slow down.
Little did I know life was not gonna slow down. Only the daily challenges would change.
I’m gonna warn you now, this is gonna be a kinda long post summarizing the past 7 months. Relevant details will appear in future posts.
Let’s begin. When last we really talked, well when last I talked, since I do the typing and you do the reading somewhere out in cyberspace…. Anyways, when I last posted at the beginning of December, I THOUGHT I was doing amazing. I felt great, well as great as SHITTY can feel. Only a survivor will understand what I mean.
I felt amazing. I was motivated, clear-headed, prepared and looking forward to a bunch of projects. Cooking, eating well, exercising, writing and planning for a productive 2016! Still a mess physically, but emotionally & mentally, I was great.
I convinced Robert Thornton to let me redesign his website for the SubluxSling. Thank you Robert! He makes a great sling but his tech skills…….
No offense Robert!
Now I’m no designer or copywriter but I have fun working with WordPress and small businesses, I’m pretty organized (most of the time) and I love learning new things.
I’m very new to website creation. So all I did was learn. I’d decide that I wanted to do something and assumed there’s always a way so I’d figure out how to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish. It didn’t always turn out exactly as I wanted but it functioned.
If you get a chance, pop on over to SubluxSling and let me know what you think, be honest too, I can take it. The only way to truly improve is to receive honest feedback. Though please keep in mind it’s my first real website. Living After Stroke doesn’t count cause, well cause, it’s just a hobby, I’m not selling anything. If you have a subluxation, order a sling while you are there (a worthwhile investment, I do have one).
Reorganizing & designing the site was amazing therapy for me. But then ………..
Crash & Burn
Physically – grrrr – physically I was a disaster. New pains & issues popping up every day. New improvements too. Just small ones (extremely small) but small is all I get. It was bittersweet. Two steps forward with one thing – Ten steps backwards with another.
I spent approximately 22-24 hours a day in bed (not sleeping), only getting up to use the restroom. Every little movement felt like the second day after going to the gym when you haven’t been there in years. Everything hurt and I was beyond exhausted. My body froze up, just quit working. Movements I was able to make for months – gone.
This went on for like 6 weeks.
Many people thought I was just getting depressed. I wasn’t depressed. I was tired, tired to the extreme. The littlest movement used every ounce of energy I had. I was in spoon debt, always starting the day with negative spoons.
I couldn’t read (my retention level was zero) and typing, even on my phone, was debilitating. I’d watch TV and have no clue what I watched. My brain had rejoined my body, broken & fried.
Holding thoughts was real work. Just the thought of having any type of conversation with someone else was draining.
That’s when I started telling everyone that I’d catch them up soon.
All I could think was- I’m gonna make a huge breakthrough so my body needed this downtime to prepare. Then I thought I was insane – whose body breaks down before an improvement – don’t break downs happen after too much exertion?
Well, I was working from this bizarre mindset, I’m backwards. See before I’d get pregnant I’d gain a bunch of weight, only to lose a bunch of weight pregnant. None of it was intentional, it’s just how my body worked every time. So to me, crashing before improving kinda made sense.
Just the other day I received external confirmation that I wasn’t so crazy thinking good was coming because I crashed so hard. I found this on Facebook. I 100% agree with it!
Return to Life
In the middle of January, after about 6 weeks of decline, I started to return.
I began getting out of bed and on my computer for a couple of hours a day. I finished working on the SubluxSling website and I started working on what were gonna be my 2016 major projects.
My time out of bed slowly grew, from 1 to 3 to 6 hours up to 8. Still not much for me.
After I finished the website, I started my first project which was purging (I mean PURGING) and organizing my home so we could have a garage sale in April and donate what didn’t sell.
I’ve learned to let go of a lot since the stroke and wanted my house to reflect that. We moved here 2 years before my stroke and during those 2 years got screwed by a contractor who destroyed my house and used up all my money.
My house is still a disaster, we never really moved all the way in and the things that were torn up were never completely put back together. Then I had the stroke.
I decided that I couldn’t do much about all the work that needs to be done. No job. No money.
But I COULD, with assistance; purge and finally “move in”. Tommy & my sister helped when they had time.
That was project one. It’s now summer, April ‘s long gone, no garage sale, and only about 1/4 of house gone through and purged.
But it’s all GOOD. actually better than good.
My second major 2016 project I’m really having trouble accepting that I’ll never meet my deadline of December 2016.
I have thousands and thousands of pictures. Thousands that aren’t digital and need to be scanned. None organized. My goal was to scan and organize them all.
Make scrapbooks for both my boys for Xmas. That’s 22 years of pictures for Danny and 18 years for Tommy.
Long ago I was into Scrapbooking. But really I just got my feet wet a little cause I turned my focus to opening a scrapbooking store instead of scrapbooking. The store never came to fruition but I still never found time to finish the scrapbooks I started.
Now I have nothing but time, I just lack the physical ability. (My scrapbook supplies are going in the eventual garage sale)
Time to put into action what I always tell others……………..
I decided to create them digitally and have them printed. I had played with a couple of scrapbook programs and although none were as flexible as I’d like – it could work. Not really the same but I think they will be awesome gifts for my boys.
I was just getting started on both of these projects when all our lives took a major turn and I haven’t stopped since.
12-16 hour days, 7 days a week. 4-6 hours of sleep at night in 2 hour intervals. Less exercise. (ok, NO exercise, just a little stretching), very limited cooking.
I was right, those 6 weeks in bed were preparation for big changes. Just not the changes I expected.
Damn, this is really long and I’ve only gotten through the 1st two months. (Sorry) I wonder if my phone (& brain) will last long enough to finish this.
It didn’t, it’s now 4 weeks later, I really have to work on balancing my priorities.
I really admire people who share their big journeys (chemo, intense rehab, huge weight losses, etc) while they’re living them. I’ll never understand how they manage to do that. When I’m in the midst of something I hyper-focus on what’s going on, how to get through it, and improve my situation to the point that all of my energy is used up. I’ve attempted to publish regularly through the process but I get sidetracked by the moment & only write incoherently in my journal.
So, the first 6 weeks was downtime, the next 2 I spent finishing the website and starting the house purge & scanning pictures. Now for the last 5 months.
My Brain Awakens
Last year I mentioned how passions (cooking, accounting, learning, helping, creating) helped with my recovery. Those were good & helpful but still not necessary. I need necessary.
In February, I was thrown into a situation where I had no choice but to step up and perform. Luckily for me, the situation required me to do the things I love for the 2 people I love the most, Danny & Tommy.
I’m not gonna lie, we had some (many – daily) rough moments. I went to sleep physically & mentally exhausted. The good kind of exhausted. The kind that stemmed from knowing you accomplished something really worthwhile. A feeling I never thought I’d have again.
To sum it up. My ex-husband decided he wanted out of the landscaping company we built 22 years ago, like RIGHT THIS MINUTE. Over the past few years, he returned to school, gotten his degree, and changed careers while Danny had been running the crews.
We all knew that he wanted out completely but thought it would be next year giving us time to prepare. Danny is only 21 with none of the business end experience & Tommy is only 17 and needed to complete his senior year. Landscaping starts in March, school ends at the end of May. To top it off he wanted a great deal of money for the business.
Needless to say our whole house was in panic mode. Every day was like the stroke, new challenges to overcome & deal with. It was an opportunity they couldn’t pass up. Both enjoy landscaping & it’s a profitable business when managed correctly.
Their dad was not very cooperative during this transition period, throwing roadblocks up at every turn. Not only did the roadblocks require creative solutions but they created many emotional issues in our household.
He provided very little information for me to work with when creating a business plan and financial projections in order for them to get financing.
Luckily, I love a good challenge and this is my “thing”.
I don’t know if I mentioned this previously but in my past life, I was a small business consultant & accountant. Not to mention, this business was my baby long ago before I had a computer, the internet, my degree in Accounting, or even my boys. We would get this done.
The stroke may have stolen my ability to provide for my kids but it also gave me the unlimited time to allow me to help them provide well for themselves.
Within 2 weeks it was a legal business. The internet makes business creation so much easier. See he didn’t really sell them the business, he sold them trucks, equipment and a customer list. The business had to be created from scratch along with estimated income & expenses based on very little financial history. My brain was pushed to the limits.
Within 5 weeks the season started and work began for them. Their expectation was that the 2 of them and one other would be the only employees. We’re now 4 months in, I do payroll for 7-9 employees and the billing for 200+ customers. I have also helped them buy another truck, crazy as it sounds.
Being thrown into a situation that drew on my pre-stroke strengths was the best therapy I’ve had yet. If I could actually leave the house & use a public restroom alone, I could work again. A little slower than usual, well… a lot slower than before but my brain still functions when it has to!
It helps tremendously that they are forward thinking, don’t think they know it all, want to listen and learn, and are willing to work their asses off. The biggest challenge I always had was when a small business owner would want to do things in ways that would lead to their own demise and not want to put in the effort required.
It’s funny how life works out. I spent the past 3 years feeling guilty that because of the stroke I wasn’t able to help my boys go to college & begin their lives (which they didn’t even want to do), yet because of the stroke, I’m able to help them accomplish what they really want to do.
Moral of this long-ass story:
This is nowhere the life I envisioned for myself or my family, however, with what I’ve been dealt, it’s not so bad.