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What Having a Stroke Taught Me

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Thirteen years ago I had a stroke which left me temporarily paralyzed on my right side along with having a brain hemorrhage. That was the scariest time of my life because I had no idea if I was going to survive. The neurologists put me in ICU hooked up to monitors and an IV.  After a few days, I was stabilized and sent to the step down unit before being discharged.

Once I was home, I was not allowed to do any chores or drive, and had to have physical and occupational therapy for almost 10 months in order to strengthen my entire right side. I had my husband or in-laws drive me to my appointments or assist with errands until I had permission to resume normal activities.

During this time, I decided to make some much needed changes in my life. I started out trying new endeavors such as teaching myself how to use a digital camera. I then tried my hand at entering a few photo contests and wound up winning honorable mention and getting published in the “2016 -2017 Catskills Outdoor Guide” and winning third place at the Wilson Community Library. I then became interested in taking online first aid and CPR courses for children and adults so I’d be prepared in case of an emergency. After that, I tried my hand at the same online course for pets in case something happened to my basset hound, Bailey. This gave me the confidence I needed in studying and test taking.

Chairs looking out at the Catskills.

As time went by, I found the courage to finally walk away from toxic people after years of being afraid to stand up for myself. I now choose to only be surrounded by friends and certain family members who treat me with respect and dignity and accept me for who I am. I no longer worry about what others think of me, because I’d rather cherish and appreciate every moment of the day, or reflect on the beauty that surrounds me such as a sunset or watching sailboats on the lake.

I still continue to focus on helping others with their ostomy care or volunteering at the yearly food pantry fundraiser in the community.  Even though I have other health issues on top of stroke deficits, that won’t stop me from continuing to break out of my comfort zone and explore new possibilities I haven’t tried before.

Originally published: July 18, 2018
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