I don’t believe people truly think about handling every day menial tasks. I know I never did before the stroke. One never thinks about the muscles it takes to spread the fingers of a hand or lift a foot from the floor. It was second nature before this. Now, it takes considerable conscious effort to do things as simple as place my hand on the keyboard.
When I was first hospitalized, I was asked to do things like touch my nose with my finger then take that finger and touch the finger of a doctor not even a foot away from me. A pretty simple task, right? It was one of the first of many times I bawled like a baby while in the hospital. Watching my drifting, shaky left hand move from my side to my nose then to the doctor’s finger and back was one of the most difficult moments of many while I was being cared for during those three weeks. Knowing how easy it had been on prior occassions and how smoothly my right sailed through the air practically crushed me.
I was told many times how much better things may possibly get and they were happy to see that I had any motor function at all. Being an independent, single woman who has taken care of herself most of her life those weren’t words I wanted to hear at the time. Having someone assist me to the bathroom or knowing I had to wait for someone to be in the room with me while I dressed or shifted from bed to chair was a struggle.
By the time it was time for me to be discharged, I worried about everything. Knowing I had to walk with a walker and a brace on my foot scared me. The fact that short walks fatigued me and standing for even twenty minutes tired me out to the point where I had to rest for just as long concerned me.
I was reminded how far I’d come. Those little things reared their head and strengthened me. They also spurred me on. Being able to walk from one room to another with no one watching or assisting me, preparing and taking my own medicine, with some effort being able to put my hair into a ponytail (one of the only ways I currently wear it), being able to squeeze a foam ball or play with Play Doh, having almost one hundred percent clear speech were all things I needed to celebrate being free to do.
Am I currently completely independent? No. I can celebrate what I can do and not dwell on what I can’t do. I’ve been fortunate enough to run into some caring individuals who have been willing to lift things for me when I need them lifted or aid me with carrying some things. They are not always there, but I’m grateful for when they are.