I’m so lucky!

I recall how soon after my stroke, there was a day that I was  miserable, & in his attempt to point out how lucky I was to be alive, my husband mentioned how I’ll get to see my kids grow up.  I have thought about that comment several times, but I don’t think I fully appreciated that comment until now: I have always assumed I’d feel that way on their wedding day, so I was surprised how special this was…My daughter, Jessica, has always wanted to be a  vet.  Today she started her internship as a Vet Tech, I had a  flashback to the day she started preschool…she was so excited!  This was  back when I couldn’t move, & she sat by me, & just talked & talked, as she turned in her swivel seat!

 

Playing “catch up”

I haven’t posted in a while.  In June, we returned from a Disney cruise that went around Northern Europe (we went to London, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, & the Netherlands). Oddly, London seems more accessible than the US! Mark & I planned to just go with my girls. But my family heard about it, & 23 more people came along! It was a blessing in disguise that so much family was there, because Mark had a kidney stone, & was sick for part of the trip, but there was tons of family there to help w/me!  My kids could’ve helped me the whole time (Jess is freakishly strong, & if teenagers want to help, they can be a great asset), but it was nice for them to be able to share the load, so they could still be kids!  & though it’d have been better if Mark did not have to be sick, if I chose where to have him be sick, the cruise was handy because  there was so much help w/me, w/the cooking, & with the cleaning!

 

This cruise, the elevators are a lot less crowded with strollers, walkers, & scooters, & since I had been out & about more with me driving (since Mark was sick), I knew the ship better…so, I got adventuresome & opened the theater doors (so I could get out of the theater while the show still played), went from floor 5 to floor 3, so I could check out a game, then came up to my room on floor 8–ALL BY MYSELF!!!   From then on, if I wanted to see a movie or something, I just took off!  (I could because my room had an automatic door opener)  It was awesome!

 

About those elevators, one of my biggest pet peeves on cruises is that the stairs are ignored & elevators are heavily used by EVERYONE!  I wish the crew members gave wheelchairs priority on the elevators.)  I get that elevators are used by those who may have trouble walking, have bad knees, or when like 7 flights of stairs to climb, so I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but when an elevator that is going down opens, & is packed with healthy teenagers who just shut the door, it is hard to remain positive! Sometimes I wish I wore a sign that said, “u can walk, & I can’t.” Or “Laziness is NOT a disability!” (However, I shudder to think of how inconsiderate I was pre-stroke!).

However, on this cruise, I witnessed something that I have NEVER seen before: There was an evening where I was with a family member who had a stroller.  I was trying to return to my room after a movie, but elevator after elevator was packed with, what appeared to be, healthy people. When another elevator opened & was again full, a man (who I had met a few days before) stepped off the elevator, telling me to get on. My brother knew there was not room for the   stroller AND me, so he said we’d wait for the next one, so we could get on one together. The man (Rob?) then proceeded to empty the elevator for me!  I was so touched & impressed by Rob!  Every now & then, I meet someone who is kind & does stuff like giving up a table for me, or opens a door for me, but I have not witnessed such a dramatic move!

 

In July, we had a taste of the future as empty nesters, since the girls were gone so much at various camps.  While I think most parents put things aside when their kids are born, & I think those things start to resurface again when the kids leave, we mostly played catch up, since it was only 2 weeks!”…But I think it will be different in 3 years (yes, I am that old!), when my kids really leave,

 

Recently, we got a foreign exchange student–Giuli (Julie) from Switzerland. She will be here until January.  Her English is incredible, & she can already understand a word or two from me!  It is possible she just understands the context & catches one word that I say (she is smart), but it is great that we can communicate! 😜

 

Lastly, an article was printed about me in BYUMagazine (where I went to college): https://magazine.byu.edu/article/finding-her-voice/  Thanks to my dear friend, Laurie Smith, for the awesome family photo that is at the beginning of the article, & a shout to my friends in Indianapolis, IN, who were there for me the first year after my stroke!

Do you still experience double vision and how have the doctors treated it? Is there a treatment that was especially effective?

I do still experience  double vision, but it is  a lot better, & I can read smaller font–in fact, I use a mini iPad now!  (Sometimes I need a magnifying glass, though..but I am getting old!) J

 

The doctors did nothing.  They wanted to use an eye patch (like a pirate), but couldn’t promise anythhing,  & said that whatever it did, would only be temporary.  Call me  vain, but since I already had a trache, catheter, feeding tube, “boots”, & arm braces, I was  not too keen on adding another thing, unless I was  gauranteed permanent change!

“Wherefore Didst Thou Doubt?”

I was watching this video about when Peter walked on water (https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2014-01-024-wherefore-didst-thou-doubt?&cld=HP_TH_18-5-2017_dPFD_fMLIB_xLIDyL1-A_&lang=eng), & realized that my speech can be the same way.

 

I have some friends who routinely come by to chat…Rarely, do I ever sign—we really do chat!  & excitedly, I can FINALLY speak to my hairdresser (who, before, couldn’t even talk to me, cuz I could not answer w/a head nod!), & sometimes, I can get out a “thank you” to a person who holds the door open for me!  (This has bothered me for so long, it is very exciting to me!)  I have answered a few phone calls, & have gotten braver, & open our front door, & approach people (in the past, I’d never do that, cuz I can’t talk to them, & they can’t talk to me).  Not long ago, my husband went to help one of my friend’s w/some home repairs, & I tagged along to just keep her company & chat…she knows no ASL, yet for quite sometime we conversed just fine!  & I have had friends at church remark on how clear my speech is getting, & approach me in the halls to talk!    So, with all this occurring to build up my confidence, in a sense, I can walk on water!

 

However my speech is not perfect, & still needs A LOT of work!  As I watched the video, I could understand Peter’s thoughts–often, like Peter, I will think, “I’m doing it!” & have a moment of thrill, followed by panic, questioning myself, & then I clam up (& sink).  It is not until I stop thinking about how I did it, or stop feeling anxious, that I can again speak.  The title of the video is “Wherefore Didst Thou Doubt?”  How much that fits me as well…

 

I have been sick lately, & a few weeks ago, I literally couldn’t speak for a few days, & I had to resort to sign language again…it was horrible!  (Ironic to hear that from me, I know…but I guess it is like swimming in water, after experiencing walking on water), & I wondered how I had tolerated it for so many years!  My family has “gotten out of the practice” of periodically looking at me, & I forgot how hard it is to get people’s attention when u can’t even make a single noise!!!  When I was telling a family member about how I had lost my voice that weekend, she pointed out how it was a good thing I had enough voice to even lose it!

Small things I am grateful for…

I‘m obviously grateful to Mark for countless things (most of all, for staying by my side & living in a way, so he can always be there for me), but as I was watching this video (https://www.mormon.org/easter/principles-of-peace/gratitude), & I wanted to express gratitude to my kids for some small deeds they did the 1st year after my stroke…things they may be unaware of:

Zach: When I came home from the hospital, he gave me a card.It read, “Gary the Get Well Gorilla wants you to getwell soon!”  Inside said,  “And you better do what Gary says!”  Zach wrote, “Gary says if you exersz (exercise) you get better.”  Whenever things got tough, or I was tired, I kept going, cuz Gary (Zach) said I should!

In addition, there was a morning when I entered the kitchen, & found him at the breakfast table, studying a Sesame Street book about sign language.  I was touched when he explained that he “wanted to learn how to talk to mom.”

Jessie: every night, she’d come into my room, pull a chair over to my bedside, sit down & twirl, entertain me, & just talk my ear off!  Such a simple thing, but it meant so much!  It was the brightest part of each day!

Sophie: She was so young (only 2 years old), that she did not understand (like Zach & Jessie did), that I could do nothing when she got hurt. So she would cry for me & want to be put on my lap to “kiss her owie better.”  I could not even pucker or lift her hurt limb to my mouth, so she did it…& somehow, I still gave her “magic kisses!”