Anniversary 

Sunday marks the one year anniversary of the (not my) stroke. My occupational therapist inquired if I was having a party. I don’t imagine it’s an event that warrants celebrating. (Can you see the invite… Come Celebrate at Kim’s One Year Stroke Party. Awkward.) Yeah, we could celebrate the wondrous gift of life, but I do that every day. 

I’m inclined to burn something like missionaries do at their one year mark. That idea makes me recall back to the last scene of Return of the Jedi when they burned Darth Vader. But I don’t want to lay in the fire. So what do I burn in effigy?

There is always the consuming of tasty food to (in some way) celebrate the milestone. (A reason to enjoy yummy things, I’m in!)

Please comment, and give me your opinion. How should I mark the date?

Here’s to one year of looking with new eyes and a renewed appreciation. “Cheers!” or be of good cheer. (I keep reminding myself.)


Above: My last picture before the stroke, with Whitney at the Kelly Pickler concert up at Cherry Peak.

Closure

This weekend I visited the cabin up Ogden canyon where I was staying just prior to the stroke. It was the spot I was last normal. It haunts me like a ghost of life past. I never actually verbalized my inner conflict, because I was trying to remain in denial as long as possible at the time. (Sometimes you gotta use denial for self preservation!) However, the thought was always hovering in the back of my mind, even though I was welcomed with many with open arms.

Certain sights brought back memory vignettes of the days preceding my big change almost a year ago. Picture the ballfield, spotted with family playing softball. (With my mad skills, I got a hit everytime!) There’s the corner of the yard where the night before we watched (an old family favorite) John Wayne movie outside. (Popcorn included.) I recall scrumptious meals as we all gathered together to laugh and associate. And right before, (all those who opted out of river tubing) rambunctiously played cards with the necessary drinks and snacks. All was right with the world. We were encircled by trees and the babbling water. In the company of seldom seen extended family, we shared stories, memories, and experiences. Always laughing, we enjoyed the careless serenity of the crisp outdoors.

This was the scene from a normal life that would soon come crashing down, not just for me, but all associated with me. (Kablam!) 

It’s amazing to think of one event (like a stroke) rippling out to deeply effect so many. It just goes to show you it’s expedient to live your life to the fullest now and every day after. You never know what tomorrow will bring. (Seriously, you just don’t know!) How would I have lived those final normal days? What would I have done to prepare? I feel like I was in the right place, with family.

Here’s my unsolicited, but well-earned advice: Turn off the TV or put down the phone, and give your precious time to the people you love.

The cabin will always hold treasured memories for me. (Sorry, I was responsible for ruining a wonderful family weekend. It certainly wasn’t on purpose.) But instead of dwelling on the sadness this event caused many, I will focus on the good times. I will pull aside the veil of disappointment and desperation, and I will strive to only remember the happiness and joyful times. That’s my goal. (Wish me luck!)

Swim – 6/28/17

I engage in water therapy three times a week. The floor of the pool is a treadmill, and I employ a lot of walking. I workout with other exercises also. (This pic above is my forced smile. Don’t miss the video below.) Because of the weightlessness of the water, I am able to move much more freely. It is letting me perform many motor functions I could not normally do. It is geared to help my body remember and hopefully “unthaw “and work like it is supposed to.

We have loads of fun. I’m always trying to do normal things, and I occasionally freak out my therapist Collin by doing unexpected random strokes like lunge back into a backstroke or try to float on my own. I enjoy hopping, since I can’t do that on land! We have too much fun, and he is impressed with my eighties music, movie, and superhero knowledge. We laugh most of the 45 minutes I’m in the pool. Now and then Amy has to stop the treadmill, I’m laughing too much to keep up.  One day, I was working on standing balance. My fingers tried to assist with this fast little paddling. Collin thought that was hilarious. I used to bowl the same way. (The ball will go in with a bit of body language, right?) 

Thanks to Amy for helping me get somewhat dry, then I go lay in the sun! I really enjoy ‘swimming,’ even if it’s in an exercise capacity. (Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!)

Electrodes – 5/31/17


Remember that movie scene(s), there were a few, when the mad scientist hooks electrodes to the lucky recipient (or parts of recipient,) flips the switch, and yells, ‘It’s alive!” Well today the recipient was trying to come to life. (Part of me anyway.)

As you have probably guessed, that lucky recipient was yours truly. They hooked up electrodes to my right leg above the knee, and turned knob. (It wasn’t especially painful.) It felt like someone was giving me a really hard noogie! (Not what I’d describe as comfortable.) I was supposed to kick when I felt it shock my knee. The zap into the muscle coupled my use of the the muscle is meant to stimulate the muscle to fire more. What it did was make me tired. I stood up, with help, after that, and my legs were toast. I guess electrocution will do that to you! Like Frankstein, “It’s only sleeping, waiting for new life…”

Legs – Working Wednesday 5/24/17

“Don’t pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”  Bruce Lee

Leg lifts were difficult today! The therapist had me lift my legs and pull them back, with the brace on. (So?) Well the brace was made to support my knee from hyperextending, but in keeping with its function, it limits my knee extension. Therefore they usually take it off when I do leg lifts, but not today! I had to kick my mostly paralyzed leg, and pull it back slowly. The therapist said my muscle was engaging on the way back in addition to kicking. (That’s new!) 

“Alive and kickin’!”

Eye-Rolling – Saying Saturday 5/20/17

There’s a certain guesture that says a lot more than a thousand words. A well timed eye-roll can put your emotions into words without actually speaking. It can convey disbelief, disapproval, impatience, or feelings of absurdancy. We’ve all done it. It’s what you do when there’s nothing left to say. When you’ve “had it up to here.” (As I motion above my head.) 

When I first had the stroke I was “locked in.” Meaning I was conscious, but could not move. Many wondered if I was in a vegetative state, but Darin saw my eyes roll and knew I was “home” inside. I soon began regaining movement on my left side. (Which all the doctors said would be impossible. But I’m all about beating odds!) Then I spent the next four months with a trach, and I couldn’t talk. Trying to get my point across involved many eye-rolls. In fact, I did it so often I probably saw my brain! (I’m a pro. If there’s some Eye-Rolling Championship out there, I would be a contender!)

As a mother, we get so exasperated we’ve had numerous eye-rolls throughout our maternal lives. They are key to a mother’s ophthalmic repertoire as is the stern you-better-obey glare. (Children are such a ‘blessing!’) Now that I can speak, I still incorporate many well-timed rolling of the eyes to accentuate my needs and feelings. Never underestimate the value of a quality purposeful eye-roll. “Come on and just, roll with it baby…”

Blame – Feelings Friday 5/12/17

After my stroke, I could be bitter with life in general. I could be moping around feeling all depressed. I could shake one fist at the heavens, and say, “Why me?” But I know a pint can only hold a pint not a quart. Meaning we are only given what we can handle. (Wow, that’s heavy!) I could get really deep, but I must come to grips with the plain and simple fact that this is a obstacle I can handle. (I can’t say there aren’t hard days. When I become reminded of my life before, my emotions do get the best of me.) But I don’t blame anyone or anything. It’s not anyone’s fault. Life was not meant to be fair. There is not anything I could have done, maybe monitor my blood pressure, but I had no reason to do that. I guess the moral to this post is: Don’t blame anyone for your problems. Just find a way to make the best of them. Look on the bright side. Get your blood pressure checked as often as you can! (Easy, right? She says sarcastically.)