I just realized I’m quickly losing time on this day, the seventh anniversary of my stroke. Weird, isn’t it, seven years on 7/7? I officially dub today “777” for the coincidences.
What’s weirder than this occurrence is looking back at how much has changed since 7 July, 2003. On that day, my ability to take care of myself was taken away. I was carried away by ambulance, scanned, helicoptered, opened up and cleaned up and put into a drug-induced coma.
Seven years out, it is encouraging to see where I am now, peaceful yet still fighting for my earthly right to express myself in every way that is humanly possible, and probably about 75% there. That’s on average a little over 10% gained back every year, isn’t it? (Seriously, check my math; it’s not my strong suit.)
And as I’ve begun to spread my newfound knowledge and awareness of this condition to the rest of the world, I am actually thankful for this experience, for living this and being able to understand it in all its aspects. This is a heavy, life-changing lesson that defines who you are. You can either surrender to it or rise above it: The choice is yours, and if you so choose to become greater than you ever thought you could be, stronger, then that’s half the battle. I personally think it is important to understand this test of life for what it is, a mark of your inner greatness. (For an amazing example, listen to or read this beautifully strong woman’s story, a survivor of breast cancer — an entirely different beast she managed to fight back. It is astonishing.)
So, I wanted to share a semi-amusing tale from today, which turned out to be a surprisingly fantastic day. I got up early to go to a ten AM training appointment, after which I was to immediately head off to the University of Chicago Hospitals for a follow-up appointment with my neurologist (great news — no more meds!). Running a bit behind for training, I grabbed a toasted chocolate-filled Italian croissant on my way out and ate some on my way. Since I have limited sensation on the left side of my face, I often get food stuck at the left corner of my mouth by accident so I quickly gave it a wipe with my forearm before I entered the gym.
After training, and seeing my neurologist — and oddly, a journalist and her photographer (who asked me for a patient photograph for the next newsletter!) — and then running into my old attending physician at the hospital during inpatient and chatting for a bit, I arrive home after probably an hour of driving around aimlessly (no sense of direction either, this one) and check my face in the mirror so I can wipe off the sweat. (It’s hot and humid in Chicago this time of year.)
There is a clump of super-brown chocolate hanging out at the corner of my mouth.
It’s always great going around in public like a Bozo and not have anyone point it out. 😛
By the way, I’ve also been invited to interview as a patient story for the UC Hospitals’ newsletter. I’m kind of excited!
To our healing,