Tomorrow, I will complete the last day of my therapy sessions. It will be 3 years and 46 days since my first stroke.
It seems like a lifetime ago, but it also seems like yesterday.
Since the strokes (and assorted other things like seizures, ER visits, and worry) I have been doing all sorts of therapy including speech, physical, occupational, reading, vision, acupuncture, massage, and hypnosis therapy.
I cannot fathom the hours of appointments I have had. I cannot calculate the hours of “homework” I have done. I cannot imagine the countless hours striving to be back to “normal.” And, it comes down to this: I am blessed in countless ways, but I will never be back to normal. However, it has taken 3 years and 46 days for me to count my blessings and realize I have a pretty good life.
Certainly, I miss “Mark Dunham.”
I miss a lot of things from my old life. I miss reading. I miss helping my son with his homework. I miss math! I miss not having headaches when I concentrate. I miss making a difference at the legislature. I miss not being scared all of the time about having another stroke. I miss driving on the freeway. I miss not being scared when I drive anyway. I miss being in complete control of my life and my fate. I miss not worrying about money. I miss not worrying about our son’s future. I miss not needing a nap. I miss doing my blog right now without a headache!
3 years and 46 days….
Yet, I am busier than I ever thought. Between board meetings like the College of Western Idaho, the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, the Idaho Chapter of the American Heart and Stroke Association, and other assorted duties and chores, I am astounded that my schedule is so demanding.
My neurologist keeps cautioning to slow down. “Resign from some boards. Take it easy.” However, I cannot. I like to be busy and contribute. I cannot do “nothing.”
Nevertheless, I have really been trying to take her advice to heart. I cancel unnecessary lunches and meetings. When I have options, I try to participate in stroke support groups rather than board or legislative commitments.
When I miss support groups, I can tell. I need those people. I need to be refreshed. I need other stroke survivors. Perhaps it is like AA. My 12 step program. I almost physically need my stroke survivor friends.
At support groups, we laugh and cry together. We have common solutions and concerns. When we cannot express something because of aphasia, we understand. We laugh that often people cannot imagine that we cannot write or sign a signature or complete the alphabet.
So, though my official therapy sessions are concluding, my life of therapy is not. I have so much therapy to do at home. Everyday. For example, in one year, I need to write the alphabet backwards. I have to do eye and vision therapy forever. To reduce headaches, I need to do physical exercises but not elevate my heart rate too much!
My life is a balance. Do not do too much but do not waste away.As Albert Einstein “Learn from yesterday. Live for today. Hope for tomorrow.”