The stroke didn’t just create a bump in the road. It permanently closed many doors.
I’ve always been well aware that when one door closes, another door opens. I’ve experienced it too many times to count. I just never knew there were hallways. I also never realized that the new doors could lead to such hateful situations. Yet for nearly a year and a half, I was trapped in some very dark hallways!
Darkest place I’ve ever been, blacker than I could ever imagine.
Leaving the hallways was hard on many levels. After all the meds were out of my system and I created a comprehensive exit strategy, I was finally able to think clearly. I asked myself, “Now what & Where do I go from here”?
Adapt or Die
By nature I am a problem solver. Until this point, those skills came in handy to figure out how to dress or bath myself but they seemed to disappear when it came to accepting and adapting.
Way back in rehab, the therapists and even my family were surprised how hard I worked. I’ve never been a physical person. If it was too strenuous and not enjoyable, I was usually out. However in Rehab, my thoughts were– “staying in bed won’t accomplish anything”
Well after spending months as a slug, it was time to adapt or die because this definitely wasn’t working for me. Although I do have an exit strategy, it wasn’t my time to die. Adapting was my only choice.
My first out of bed task was to help a friend clean up his small business books. It took me months to accomplish something I could have done in 2 days in my past life (they were a mess).
I could only sit at my desk for about an hour a day and typing one-handed slowed me down even more. I also had to research how to account for some transactions that I had handled for 20+ years. He has been unbelievably good to me so I had to stick it out. I finished it!
Even though I experienced overwhelm and frustration daily, I was disappointed when I was done. Now what do I do with my time?
I had pinned from bed for months now, dreaming of all the food I’d never eat. No one here was going to make these recipes. I live with 3 men who don’t cook.
Yes, I was one of those moms that fell for “sandwiches are so much better when you make them”. Needless to say, my kids know how to get themselves cereal with milk and me a microwaved dinner. Freddy’s idea of cooking was “what am I picking up on my way home?”
On Tuesdays & Thursdays my sister would help prepare some dinners but she hates cooking so I had to keep it really simple and guide her.
After 18 months of takeout and Costco prepared foods what else could I do but figure out how to cook off-balance with one hand.
I could drive but I couldn’t go anywhere. I couldn’t get my wheelchair out of the house or in & out of the van. In-person support groups were out of the question.
Everyone here was gone all day and my sister was already driving an hour and a half round trip two days a week to help me and take me to appointments. No way am I asking her to drive here again.
It was during these months that I finally discovered Facebook Support Groups. For the first few months I didn’t participate, I lurked. Reading about other survivor’s experiences and coping methods helped a bunch. It helped even more when I started to participate.
Creating this blog is another attempt at creating a new life. Using the resources at hand while adjusting to my disabilities may not be the way I envisioned my life but it has fulfilled a need.
I’ve always enjoyed technology, learning, and challenges. All needs met by blogging.
The bonus is that I may be able to help another survivor adjust to living after a stroke, hopefully before they get stuck in a hallway for too long. I’ve always thrived when I can be helpful. My methods and the receivers may be different now but the outcome is the same.
It is my wish that this is the start of a community. A community that includes all of you sharing your experiences. We can help each other navigate our way through this uncharted territory of stroke recovery.
Life Goes On
Fast-forward another year and here I am. I’m still in the nightmare but out of the hallways. Finally able to share my experiences about living in Hell’s Hallways and my attempts to find that open door and begin my journey to a new life.
At times I still have trouble believing everything that’s happened. It feels so surreal. All it takes is a quick read of my journal to remind me that yes, that was MY life.
If you came here looking for the map to a new life, I’m sorry to disappoint you. There isn’t one. It doesn’t exist.
The road to recovery and living again is different for everyone. It also changes daily.
All I can do is share the roads I’ve taken. Just because one of those roads took me to my destination, there’s no guarantee the same road will take you to yours. The same goes for the roads that took me back to where I started. You never know, my failures may be your successes.
Stroke recovery as well as life is a series of trials and errors.
The more you try and fail, the more you learn and succeed. It is my hope that you find something here you haven’t found before that may possibly work for you.
Although I don’t spend every minute in total fear anymore, I’m still living a nightmare I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
What helps you stay positive and out of bed?