I had to write this. Stroke is more common than many realize. This may be helpful to those for the first time encountering stroke affected close friends and loved ones.
Just about a year ago, I was visiting a nice park in Paris. It was a quiet Sunday morning. Roses and irises were in full bloom. The day was clear. The sun, getting higher, was bright and warm. There were plenty of public benches in the park. All the benches were empty. I looked for one in the shade with a good view over the gardens.
I sat down and immediately felt very tired. I then felt strangely obliged to do what my normal public bench common sense would never allow—lean over and lie down, using my day pack as a pillow. Everything went dark. After some unknown amount of time, I heard voices; but I couldn’t see anything. Still all dark—like my eyes were shut tight. I couldn’t open them. That’s how I remember it. But I could hear more and more voices, the voices of families that I figured had started visiting the park.
Well, that was the stroke onset. Making a long uncomfortable story shorter, I was then three weeks in an emergency ward of a Parisian hospital. Lots of strange stuff. But here is the quick and dirty. Couldn’t write, couldn’t walk, couldn’t swallow. Feeding tube in the nose, IV in hand, arm, everywhere, you know the ‘find the vein’ hospital drill. Nurses firmly reminding me ‘ne bougez pas’, like I had a choice. Fortunately, I knew French. That brain skill remained. I could not move in the bed. No toilet. No cleaning. The nurses did everything for me. I had time and capacity to think.
‘Was this my peak recovery? Is this the rest of my life? Will I ever leave the hospital? Will I ever see my family? Will I ever walk again? Will I ever be able to feed myself? Will I ever be able to clean myself?’ That was some depressing sh*t.
So one year later, after a lot of will power, therapy and the gracious help of family, therapists, nurses and staff, I am walking in my own neighborhood with my family. I am writing, eating and cleaning myself in what I tell myself is d*mn near a normal life. Every case is different, I am told; but this post is about hope and continually taking one small step at a time.
On a walk this week, I took these three Spring photos to depict the hope and glory and reality of the human condition.