Today is the two year anniversary of what I’ve dubbed “my life explosion“. Some might think it is odd that I acknowledge this date, and even sometimes refer to it as my new birthday.
For me, however, I’d rather put it out there than keep my acknowledgement of it inside. So, here I am, two years later still working on recovery…a process that is measured in years and not months or days like some other illnesses.
“The actual length of the rehabilitation process varies according to the person and to the severity of their injury. Some people may only require a few weeks or months of rehabilitation, and others may require years or even lifelong rehabilitation.”
I can see my growth over the past year. I am much stronger, and can therefore walk a bit better and last longer before hitting complete exhaustion (and my goodness the exhaustion). I am better able to complete higher order executive functioning skills. And, I continue to challenge myself so that my neurons build complex pathways.
I also recognize the accomplishments I’ve achieved. For example, several times over the past year my Physical Therapist has strapped me into a harness over a treadmill. Each time my goal was to get to 3.5 in my speed (the lowest speed that is considered running), and the past few times I’ve done it I have reach my goal….albeit, the longest I can last at that speed is 5 minutes, but still, I was running.
I have hit my goal of 4,000 steps a day for almost all of this current school year (I take one day a week off…see exhaustion note above). It has helped to have a furry friend to enjoy going on walks with, and he goes at whatever speed I go, so it works out well. I’ve fallen several times on my walks, but let’s be real…I’ve always been clumsy. The best part is that Optimus is right there looking at me when I do without judgement.
Somehow I’ve managed to travel and present at conferences, as well as attend and participate in a wedding, and I say somehow because there is a ridiculous amount of sensory input in airports and conference centers. Even hotel carpeting…seriously, what is up with hotel carpeting? Does it really need to be (often) bright geometric patterned? These are important questions, people, so please pay attention…it is dizzying. Not one of these adventures would have been possible without my co-presenters and my adventure partner.
I often spot others with walking challenges wherever I go. Yes, these folks were probably around me before my life explosion, but I truly see them.
I also recognize the hypocrisy of a call for social justice that continually stays silent about the issue of disability. If 19% of the population reports having a disability perhaps we can find a way to talk about it more?
I wrote a book. I’m not sure if it is any good, and I’m still working on editing it. I often remind myself that it took Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor 10 years for her to share her story. Perhaps I am emulating her in some sort of way. What I do know is that I needed to get my life explosion out of me as a method of grieving (also a reason I talk a lot about Optimus).
There has been a lot that I’ve lost, and I am sad about it. It is okay to be sad.
Still, I want to use my story to encourage/help others, and so I’ve shared bits of it at community wide events, a classroom of speech therapists in training, and a monthly support group for caregivers of stroke survivors. I hope that by sharing it I’ve helped others in some way as all of these groups of people have helped me.
Goal for 2017: Do much of the same as this past year, except add looking at my experiences with more gratitude. I spent a lot of time over the past year thinking “I woke back up for this?! Why?”
Over the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with two students from Syria, and couldn’t help but think about how amazing it is that we were eating good food, playing games, and enjoying each other’s company. Who would have thought I would be sitting around a table two years later enjoying time with two people from Syria in Macomb, Illinois?
This world we live in often looks like this:
when we want it to look like this:
Perhaps if it did we would miss out on discovering all of the:
that exists where the lines cross.
Happy 2017 Everyone!
Thank you so so so much for sharing. I appreciate your honesty and your hope in the world.
Wonderful article, Sara! You are such an inspiration.
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