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How Photography Helped Me Adapt After a Stroke


I can remember as if it were yesterday when I had my stroke and brain hemorrhage caused by a genetic clotting disorder 12 years ago. It seemed like a nightmare I couldn’t wake up from. All I can remember was being admitted to the ICU for several days, and then sent to a step down unit to start physical therapy by walking the hallway with my rehab therapist. When I was finally home, I went through the stages of grief, mourning the loss of my old self. It took longer to accept the ordeal as I was angry and in denial for several months, until I finally realized I can’t change the past and can only move forward with a different outlook on life.

Over a year’s time I was able to regain my strength physically, but the setbacks with  reading comprehension, cognitive skills, and short term memory issues were still present. I worked very hard every day to strengthen these deficits. My husband encouraged me to start a new hobby several months into my recuperation period by surprising me with a digital camera. His thinking was since I had time on my hands and couldn’t drive for a year, I could learn at my own pace how to use it.

Flowers.
Flowers.
Beautiful yellow bird.
Beautiful yellow bird.

So I started practicing by taking simple photos of flowers, the lake and sunsets. They were either off center, too light or too dark. It was difficult at times for me to understand the Nikon instruction book, but I kept at it until finally, I mastered the basics and achieved taking several perfect pictures that I turned into blank notecards, wall hangings, and hot plates to use as holiday gifts. My friends, husband, and his family were really impressed with my talent and encouraged me to try my hand at making my own greeting cards as well. If it wasn’t for my husband’s faith in me that I could do anything I set my mind to plus the support from my friends who believed in me, I would not have come this far and accepted the challenge to try something different.

Now I can look back at what happened and see it as a learning experience. I’ve come to realize there will be times in my life where I won’t have control over certain situations such as a Crohn’s flare, surgery, or another DVT. I can either be angry and bitter over what’s happened or adapt to the circumstances and focus on what truly matters — capturing the beauty of what’s around me through the lens of a camera.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. How will your photo portray the way you see your current circumstances?

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Photos by contributor.