Sunday, March 8, 2015
Still the same old "G".
Guess who's back? Me. Or some version of me... I'm still trying to get used to myself. So, what have I been doing? Recovering. I had a stroke. (I wouldn't recommend one). A had a basilar artery migraine stroke to be exact. (There's many types of migraines, and I get the ones that cause you to have a stroke if not treated,) Aren't I the lucky one. Your basilar artery carries oxygen to your brain. Mine got squeezed. Hard.When it first happened, it was a confusing time... you know, after I woke up 3 days later and started comprehending properly. It has a tendency to change you emotionally and physically, so I was told. They were right.
I'm a changed person. I'm medicated...sometimes. I have anxiety and I have less patience than I did before. I also have a shorter fuse and a mild to moderate case of "Not giving a crap about what people think." Which is new to me. I have always cared way more than I should. Let's be honest. I have always wanted to please everyone and go above and beyond to show people how much I care and love them, even when the feelings weren't mutual. I want everyone to like me and well... love me. Now I'm quickly realizing, that the ones who really matter, and the ones who need my attention are my kids, husband, family and close friends. The REAL ones, might I add. Oh and one other really important person that I often forget about is.... me. I matter. I have to take care of myself in order to take care of my family. Easier said than done... but I get it now. Thank you stroke... for shutting down my brain for a bit. I think I actually needed it.
"What??? You needed that stroke? Jennifer,,, you're talking crazy now." That's the general reaction I get. But let's go back to the beginning so you can understand why. It's not sunshine and rainbows... it's actually really dark. But it needs to be purged from me. Writing is the best way for me to express it.
I have to start with day 4. It's the best I can do as far as accurately remembering things. I made the decision to check myself out and go home. So where does ones mind immediately go when they think of leaving the doctors? Go to work. (I refused to believe that I had had a stroke. I didn't want to draw attention to myself). So... I hazily drive to work and try to function... slurring my words, confused and trying to focus on smiling and acting normal. My coworkers learn of my crazy morning, through my awkward explanations of how "fine" I am. My family doctor calls concerned, telling me to come back and run tests. I went. After it was all done... I was supposed to go home with strict instructions on 1. not driving , 2. check in daily for b.p., O2 saturation and temp checks. 3. get all prescriptions filled. 4. stay home until neurology appt. 2 months out. 5. set up scans and mri. tests 6. blood tests 7. eye exam with Opthamologist. 8. take it easy... and rest my brain. 9. focus on mental health and reduce stress in my life. 10. be patient with myself and cope with new side effects from stroke. 11. quit working.
My coworkers.. sensing my obvious inability to make any decisions, and not believing me when I said I was "fine", gathered my children, and drove us all home. It was a moment for me that I will never forget. The kindness, sacrifice, concern and overall care they showed me. I was stubborn and very much in denial that something was wrong and something very serious had happened to me.
The next few weeks went by so fast... medication adjustments, emotional ups and downs, and sleep. Lot's of sleep filled my weeks. There were a lot of tears. A lot of awkward looks as I stuttered and tried to say basic words. It was frustrating. I had moments of pure thankfulness to God that I was alive... to hopeless feelings of sadness and despair. My children's comprehension of what happened to "mom" is different. My oldest knows... the younger ones think mommy has headaches. Dealing with Gabe's feelings of inadequacy has sobered me. He felt like he should have tried harder to wake me up when I had the stroke. He now thinks back and wonders... what if.. I should have called 911. My son took care of my younger ones while I was basically in a coma that weekend. That was the best thing he could do. The younger ones remember that weekend as a party. Endless Netflix + cereal + peanut + butter sandwiches= best weekend ever!That is something they won't forget, I'm sure.
My husband feels extreme guilt over working nights and coming home to sleep , only to leave again for work, not understand how bad I was... and wondering why I was sleeping so much. He just thought I was sick. But that scary time is over... My speech has improved, my typing has improved... my mind is coming back. I have a scar so to speak... its a permanent brain stem aura and it has left me partially blind in my left eye. We won't know the extent of the long term impairments.. but I'm doing great. I started out going back to work slowly and that decision has proved to be beneficial to me. I get tongue tied sometimes and lose focus, but I have a great co worker who helps me quite a bit. The dizziness returns sometimes and I get vertigo also... but that's only when I don't take my meds.
There are some people that have reached out through text messages, Facebook comments, phone calls and even stopped in to bring a meal the first few days. That was wonderful to see the support and feel the love. I didn't think it was necessary, because I let my pride get in the way... but I couldn't cook for them. It was a blessing. When reality started to finally dawn on me... the Dr. explained how crucial it was for me to stop pretending I was ok. I wasn't. I could have ... died. That was too much for me to bare. It still is. My family has been through a lot these past 2 months. We have seen dark depressing days, and basked in the glowing light of promise. Josh and I are slowly making positive changes to benefit our family. My struggles have been mental as well as physical and have been quite challenging to my entire family.
I feel, that most people around me understand our daily delicate struggles and give us time and support to work them out as a family. But there are some... that chose to reprimand me and judge me without even knowing what we've gone through. They simply haven't been here. Haven't called me, talked to me, or even been to our house. No one has the right to tell me what I should or shouldn't be doing. Nobody has the right to tell me where I should or shouldn't be going. All that does is show ME how ignorant you are and how un supporting, unsympathetic and how unhealthy our friendship is. If I haven't heard from you in 2 months... and you call me up wanting me to babysit, clean up at church, run errands for you, make you jewelry or drive you somewhere... I'm going to do something I haven't done. I'm going to say NO. I'm saying NO more and more these days... and it feels great. I'm no longer a YES girl. It's actually quite liberating. Do I still help out when I can? Yes. When I can. I will no longer sacrifice myself or my families happiness and quality time... by stressing out and overloading my proverbial plate to please everyone else. I'm going to start living for myself. Is that selfish? No I don't think so. My husband and close friends and family don't think so either. In fact they're proud and they applaud my new found desire for life. I may not do and say what you want me to... or go where you think I should go... but if you care about me... you'll understand. If you don't... than that's not my issue. It's yours. Despite some of the changes I've talked about (I haven't divulged everything. Some things are still sacred.) I'm still the same person at the core. I'm strangely grateful for my stroke... let's tell the truth. It shut me down and reset my motherboard. I'm 33 years old and I have many wonderful things to live for. I have a renewed zest for life. As my dear friend so elegantly put, I'm still the same old "G".