Thursday, February 16, 2012

Before And After

I think one of the hardest parts of recovery, is the constant and pretty much unavoidable “before and after” comparison. When I got home, I would spend quite a lot of time remembering the ease with which I used to do pretty much anything. I didn’t realize just how much I took for granted, even everyday things like getting a bowl of cereal, drink of water, or even the simple act of standing, confident I would not fall over. Making those comparisons is a guarantees way to go crazy and work oneself into a pretty big depression. No matter how much I had improved after the stroke, I always fell short of the pre-stroke me.

I quickly realized I had to change my thinking a bit. Instead of comparing myself with my abilities prior to the stroke, I tried to start comparing myself from that date. That was the day when my brain forgot how to walk, when my balance deserted me, and my body became a stranger. I remember being in the hospital, taking those four or five steps toward the sofa, the ones that convinced the doctors I was ready to go home, and feeling so happy I had accomplished something so major.

I have always tried to remember where I started. I remember trying to stand and having no clue how to control my legs. I remember those first steps. I remember when I got home and walked around the compound and how exhausting it was to do it just one time. Then there was the time I walked without the walker. Then I walked out of the compound, each accomplishment making me feel more confident and giving me a measurable increase in my ability, each one taking me closer to how I was before that fateful night.

During the past two weeks, I have not done so well. My vision, balance and walking seem to be working against me. It is not the normal little bit forward, little bit back that I have become used to. This feels like I am either not making any improvement at all, or I am getting worse. I do have moments things seem kind of improved, but more and more I seem to be reverting back and experiencing the types of things I did shortly after coming home. It is taking a toll on my psyche. I find myself more and more depressed and wanting to stay in bed. I sleep a lot more now and am not really so interested in going outside.

I am not really sure what is going on or why this is happening. I don’t know what to do. I am worried that maybe this is it and I will spend the rest of my life with this vision and balance. I wonder what kind of job I will hold. I worry about how I will survive in the future. My vision doesn’t let me read and watching TV or working on the computer only seem to make them worse. I don’t know how to improve my balance, which is at a point where I have to psych myself up before getting out of bed or off the sofa. I am losing my confidence and losing and positive attitude along with it. I don’t know what to do.


  1. Rick Gartner17/2/12 00:51

    Realising I haven't experienced what you have, I want to say this. Although it may seem like ages since you had your stroke, one could argue it happened only recently. And therefore, more time may be needed. The difference between expectancy and reality can be terrible, something I experienced in 2004 when falling seriously ill and recovery took 4x longer than expected. Then there also is what economists call the law of diminishing returnsd: after the body have recovered for 70/80/90% (fill in your own rate here), to get closer to the 100% simply takes much more time and energy, I.e. input. Allow for that time and energy. As the old guys used to say: carpe diem, luctor et emergo

  2. There are going to be good weeks and bad weeks Robb. Try to hang in there during the bad weeks and even though this really doesn't mean sh*t, you have lots of folks who love you,and wish we could help you get back to your old self. Can you push your doctors for more therapies? Physical, occupational? And as Rick says, it takes more time and energy than anyone thought. You will get better, give it time my friend. I wish I could do something to cheer you up.
    xoxo, Julie

  3. Anonymous18/2/12 08:54

    I Know you Robb and you will find a way to get through this troubled time. Remember your body needs time to adjust to its new strength, then it will go forward to a new and stronger being. Like climbing a mountain you have to stop and take in the view not just keep climbing. So many people are praying for you and cheering your progress and we all have faith in you completing this tough journey. Lots of Love Jan