Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Learning to Walk

Yesterday was one of those days when being under the covers, hiding from the world seems like the best plan. I went to the eye doctor yesterday and while I knew my eyes weren’t better yet, the word “surgery” threw a wrench in my emotional gears. I have always had perfect eyesight, the only person in my family not in glasses. Every time I get my eyes checked, I am told I will need glasses in two years and I never do. I have been told that since I was 20. And now someone mentioned surgery.

I am good at getting bad news. I am not the kind of person to burst out into tears or start shouting at a doctor. I take it in calmly and deal with it over a longer period of time. Then I might get emotional. I haven’t really gotten emotional over the stroke yet. Part of me wants to, but another part just isn’t allowing it.

So many people tell me to be positive and stay upbeat, not to let myself feel depressed. But I am learning that feeling the depression can be a good thing. It is there, and ignoring it, for me, is like stuffing a bunch of things in a closet. Sooner or later, the door will open and it will all come pouring out in a huge mess.  So, I am taking a different approach. I am letting myself see the depression and even feel it. I let myself wallow in it for a bit and then decide that enough is enough and I make the decision now to dwell in it. I am realizing more and more that while this stroke was not my choice, and as far as the doctors can find, not my fault, it is my choice as to how I deal with it and it is my fault if I let it win.

I have done some research online, not always a wise thing to do so I have stopped. I saw statistics that ten percent of people who have this type of stoke, a CVA or cerebrovascular accident, die within a year. I have also read that two-thirds never fully recover and have some problems. I was shocked and devastated at first. But I realized and decided that I am not ten percent or two-thirds of anything. I am one hundred percent me and I will to let myself or my recovery be defined by some numbers I don’t believe apply to me.

I wrote a couple of months ago about the personal journey I have been talking, trying to live in the moment and realizing the past is just a memory and the future is an unknown illusion. This is really being put to the test now. I know that nothing is guaranteed. I only know that I have the choice to make. I can choose victory, I can choose to fight or I can choose not to. It may seem silly, but in some ways, choosing not to seems so much easier. Sometimes I just want to sit on the sofa and be angry. Sometimes I wish I could take everything breakable in the house and smash it against a wall. Sometimes I want to scream, yell and hit. Sometimes I want to know why this happened to me, not someone else. Why didn’t this happen to a criminal or someone who spends their life hurting people or doing bad things. Sometimes I don’t want to eat or take my medicine or shower or exercise. Sometimes I want people to leave me alone and stop telling me to be positive or that I will get through it. Sometimes I just want it all to go away.

But then there is something else inside of me. Something that pulls me forward and sees me through. It is sometimes a little voice and sometimes no more than the shadow of a feeling.

Yesterday, after lunch, I decided I was going to sit and watch TV and feel sorry for myself. I was well into my pity party for one when my nurse arrived for my walking exercises. Normally when he arrives, I am up and out and eager to get going. Not yesterday. I all but ignored him the first fifteen minutes. I was going through the motions of pretending to watch TV, hoping he would see how sad and depressed I was and leave me alone. He didn’t. So with a bit of anger and a lot of resentment, I sut on my flip flops, grabbed my walker and went outside.

The first round of the compound was horrible. My balance was off, my legs would not cooperate and I spent the first ten or fifteen minutes proving to myself why I should be on the sofa and why the exercise was a waste of time. Then my nurse came up with a stupid idea. He said I should walk without my walker. The man obviously had not been paying attention. Could he not see that I could barely stand? Could he not tell that I was in no shape at all to walk on my own. We went to the grass, where I could fall without getting hurt. I was so looking forward to falling face down in the grass. Maybe if I did that, he would end the session and I could get back to the more important business of feeling angry and depressed.

But then it happened. I walked. I walked from my walker about twenty meters to a tree and back. And then I did it again. And again. And then I went around the compound a few times. I almost lost my balance a few times, but I didn’t fall. I walk like a one year old toddler, but I didn’t and don’t care. I can walk. Since then, I have only used the walker one time, and that was when I woke up this morning, as it takes me about twenty minutes or so to get my balance back on track.

Today, I feel better. The depression is still there, but I look at the facts now instead of my anger and fears. I could not walk a few days ago and now I can. Yesterday I needed a walker and now I don’t.

Going to go now. I have some walking to do!


  1. As Johnny Walker would say....keep walking.