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How Can I ‘Move On’ From My Stroke?

How can I let it go?

My life before stroke was hectic. Get up at 4:30 a.m., work out, drop kids off at daycare, go to work, come home, start job number two (that of Mommy), and then do it all again the next day. Nothing exciting, but I had a routine; I knew what to expect during the day. I over-worried about everything: my marriage, kids, job, life in general. I thought I had it rough. Boy was I wrong.

When I had my stroke in June 2012, my life came to a halt. I lost the ability to walk, talk, even swallow correctly (who knew there was a right way to swallow?). I was locked in, which meant everything seemed normal inside my head, but all I could do was blink my eyes. That day, my ability to make decisions for myself came to an end.

I remember, near the beginning, while I was in the ICU, some family members got my pocketbook, took out my checkbook, and were discussing my finances. I wanted to shout, “Stop! That’s mine!” but all I could do was lie there, screaming internally. I knew this was something that had to be done, but I had no control, no say (literally). It was then I knew life would never be the same. Someone would always be looking over my shoulder.

Fast forward five years. Today I can walk (with a cane), talk (voice sounds different), and swallow (I made up for the three months of no eating). I am unable to return to work, so now my job is taking care of the family and the household to the best of my ability.

But I still feel as if I have no control. Being constantly told do this, try that. Just get over the stroke already, it’s done. Move on with your life. The past is the past, let it stay there. But people can’t tell me how to feel.

How can I forget when reminders of the stroke are with me every day? Balance issues leading to falls, the endless fatigue, numerous doctors’ appointments that always lead to more pills, the looks on my kids’ faces. Not being able to keep up with the laundry, dishes, my life. Emotionally on a roller coaster, feeling constantly judged, never knowing the mood I will be in for the day. But I’m supposed to forget the stroke?

Many stroke survivors are grieving their former selves, constantly mourning the old life we had and adjusting to the new life before us.

Believe me, I’m glad I survived the stroke. Beats the alternative! But it kills me when someone says, “You’re looking great!” when inside I’m falling apart. If those same people could live in my body just one day, oh, the things they would learn.

I miss my old life but am learning to love the new and improved me. I’m not all the way there, but daily I make tiny improvements. Baby steps.

So will I ever “get over” my stroke? Probably not. It has molded me into the person I am today and will always remain, like a scar. It taught me things people take for granted every day. So I will share my story over and over and over again. It’s a part of me that will always be there. I’m not ashamed and I’m not hiding it. I am a stroke survivor!

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Thinkstock image by lienkie