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Firsts In Recovery

What Recovery looks like.

Recapturing the ability to do a job and/or activity the first time after a stroke can’t be put into adequate words. The word exhilaration though would hint well at describing my sense of accomplishment.

Despite the desire to return to my pre stroke life I spent the Winter and Spring questioning if it was realistically possible.

I had no idea. Last week I did return to my radio show for the first time in nine months.

It felt good.

I feel triumphant!

I’ll not drag out and bore readers with the fundamental details needed both in motor skills and cognitive abilities to broadcast a live radio show, but suffice it to say that it’s a multitask balancing act, not to mention our accompanying interactive online chatroom to monitor.

I had ran a test show to suss out any software or DJ issues yet the night of my live show I was feeling a new self conscious about how my speech would broadcast. I’d need the feedback from the listeners who knew me before the stroke to know.

The stroke affected my right side, including the right side of my face. My muscle tone was damaged, including a slight droop of my mouth.

Rehabilitation therapy after a stroke begins with assessments by three different disciplines; physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. (Speech therapy really should be renamed because it encompasses far more than speech.) This discipline assesses and treats cognitive function as well.

I keep saying it, I’m a fortunate stroke survivor, compared to the severity of brain damage I could have endured, I’m in great shape.

My goals were to walk unaided, to have normal use of my right hand and to talk without sounding intoxicated. I was given exercises for all three goals.

Most of the facial exercises were a hoot to witness I’m sure, but the benefits of simply smiling was the best and most natural exercise. The speech exercises were fun, the cognitive tests I loved. My speech therapist told me on our last visit she could no longer ethically treat me, I tested above average which meant no need for this discipline. I had an exercise routine and following it was up to me.

Happily because of the exercises my face muscles regained strength, the droop lifted, my speech although I can hear differences, I think is Understandable.

The real test though would be listeners.

THE SUPPORT…amazing support… and encouragement from those listeners in their feedback touched my heart with tears of gratitude a few times. Tears in a voice can mud up the clarity of a narrative but damn that grateful sense of success was worth the awkwardness of those moments.

Stroke recovery comes in Baby Steps of Firsts.

My first radio show post stroke ✔


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Strong I am not.

Truth be told to you who say I’m strong… Truth be told, there are unending days I am no Warrior. For instance, to not admit I struggle with Friday’s makes me a fraud.

Friday nights.

I could be all dressed up with somewhere to go, yet instead I’m at home in my jammies at 7pm.

Even though I have somewhere to go. I won’t.

Nine months ago I’d of been outta here, nine months ago I was. I was out at a live music show doing what I love, memorializing ‘the bands’ show.

But instead I am isolating and being reclusive.

I’ve not been able to really talk about this, but right now I seem able. That could all change tomorrow. Stroke recovery is like that, I find myself repeating “every day in stroke recovery is different.’


I’ve been an extroverted loner all my life. I’ve always been quite comfortable being alone, most often choosing solitude, yet I had a social side and liked being with people…well most people.

But now the extroverted side of me has apparently disappeared with the brain damage I suffered from the stroke that hit me last October. Being with people I love or even engaging with them on the phone I often find is simply too much. At least for today, and “For Today” is all I can manage.

Social media is the only place and time I feel somewhat comfortable being social, as it were. Knowing I can duck out at any give moment without being seen as rude or someone taking it personal gives me latitude to work with. I don’t feel like I have that option in person or even on the phone. Brain injury survivors tend to be hyper sensitive to stimuli. I am.

I find that I have been using isolation as a way to cope rather than to be overcome by the paralyzing social anxiety that has evolved post stroke, anxiety that will completely derail me, anxiety that is still so new to me.

I think the isolation has been a good coping tool but it’s a slippery slope.

I tried 4 different pharmaceuticals for anxiety only to experience side effects that were too much, Weeks into it I began to realize that I needed time to heal, not more drugs.

Surviving a stroke brings a host of new lessons for life, the learning curves can make a person feel like a first grader all over again. Initially the first six weeks post stroke I was doing wonderful. Part of the recovery assessment in the inpatient rehabilitation unit included a psychological assessment, both the psychologist and Speech Therapist told me I appeared to have a good handle on the traumatic (stroke) event. I was obnoxiously happy despite having had my life turned upside down.

Yet, coming home was another thing,

Despite being happy to be home, finally, there was still ambiguity. One of the things I find most intimidating is trying to resume some sense of a structured life again at the mercy of stroke survival.
Physical recovery is trying enough to structure at home and though the Rehab Unit had prepared me well by creating a exercise program to continue at home the mental and emotional recovery are a whole different thing. I found right away that I had become weepy, wordless, and my frustration and tolerance levels were scraping the barrel bottom. Add the Neuro Fatigue and everyday normal activities become enormous daily struggle.

The social butterfly side of me is now MIA.

It’s all been just too much.

I stopped taking phone calls. I stopped having visitors. I purposely allowed my world to shrink. Isolation is not always a good thing but it can have its benefits when used appropriately.

Causing people I care about to worry is NOT A GOOD THING. Nor is not nurturing relationships. This collateral damage crushes me with regret and guilt, yet it’s the way I’m coping with the anxiety that physically makes me ill and emotionally with paralyzing fear. I can’t seem to find a way to interact with people of significance in my life without becoming emotionally paralyzed and unable to breathe. Then my body starts to go numb.

This is anxiety. It’s debilitating.

Yet, i’s been allowing me to heal. Today I feel hopeful that I will get past this too. I feel progress. I have been to a couple of live music shows recently, and though I was wiped days after I am empowered to try again.

It’s be

(On a personal not; I’m beyond grateful for everyone who understands and knows that it’s not personal. Thank you )