Mornings are my favorite part of my day right now. I have always been a morning person, jumping out of bed, ready for the adventure of a new day. I always loved the idea that a day could hold so many secrets. Now, I still love the mornings but for a different reason. I love that time when I am just starting to wake up, when all the possibilities of the day are there before me. I cuddle with my pillow and blankets and think about walking to Coco Beach, maybe going for a swim in the warm ocean. I think about sitting by the water at Slipway with my laptop pr a book and passing the hours of the day. I think that I will finally get the haircut I need and then meet a friend for lunch.
Then I open my eyes and look around, trying to make sense of where I am as my vision brings me back to my reality. I sit up in bed, pushing myself up from the left side before flopping like a rag doll on my right side. It takes me time to find my balance. I stay trapped on the bed while my by figures out what it needs to do to function. One I can sit up straight, I put my feet on the ground and talk myself into standing. Maybe it will be ok, maybe I will fall against the wall in front of me, maybe I will stand as the room begins to turn around me. I get a short wave of motion sickness that passes through, but I ignore it. My head spins and my body feels beyond intoxicated as I try to get dressed, putting one leg at a time slowly into mu shorts or jeans. I prefer shorts at the moment. The feeling of jeans against my numb leg is sometimes just too much. It is the same when taking a shower, I can’t take water against both my legs at the same time, the difference in sensation freaks me out. I have to rinse and wash my hair the same way, otherwise it is just too much. The feeling of the water, the difference in temperature and the tingling that happens on my left side are overwhelming.
The bulk of my day is spent on the sofa withmy legs elevated to help the circulation. After breakfast, which consists of four medications and some toast with butter, jam, cheese, Nutella and a cup of tea, I head back to the sofa for an hour or two. Amd then all the thinking starts and it plays tricks on my mind. They range from asking the “why me?” questions to accusations that I maybe deserved it. I take inventory about how far I have come. It is exactly thee weeks later, and while many people would still be in the hospital, I am home and I am making some progress. And then the other voices come and tell me I haven’t done much at all. They tell me I will always be like this, that my life as I knew it is over. I try to block it out but with little to distract me, it is near impossible. Sp I put on my leg weights and focus on counting as I go through the motions of drawing numbers in the air with my feet, doing leg extensions and other movements that are to make my legs stronger. Some days, like today, I am not in the mood, but I will do it anyway and I know that I will feel better afterwards. It is just getting over that first hurdle. It reminds me of cartoons when someone is abound to go off a cliff or take a long fall and someone else says “look out for that first step, it’s a doozey!” Yes, the first step is always a doozey, but so far, each time, I make it.
It is super easy to get into a “poor me” situation, and believe me, I am tempted so many times a day. I have noone to make me get off the sofa. Nobody is keeping track of how many exercises I do. Nobody is around to make sure I even get out of bed, but for some reason I do. I spend a lot of time thinking about people I have seen in India, Nepal and here in villages of Tanzania and Kenya. I have seen people missing limbs, missing sight, crawling from car to car begging for the smallest change. I have seen people sleeping on road dividers, in the dirt under overpasses and in the city garbage dumps. I have seen people with horrifically mutilated bodies, people whose families and communities have tossed them aside and thrown away. Many of them are children, and their life at the moment is as good as it will ever be. It will only get worse. And then I look at myself and my life and all the wonderful people I know and the things I have access to. I realize that while yes, strokes suck, in the whole scheme of things, I have it pretty good. Sometimes a bit of perspective is really important.