Thursday, March 16, 2017

Four Months Later

It was the day I didn't expect. The kind of day that happens to other people, not to me! But it did happen to me. Four months ago today, I had a stroke. Four months ago, life changed.

It seems like much longer. But it really has only been four months.

This morning I went to therapy. In fact, I'm really not sure what I will do with myself when I don't go to therapy any more! This morning, as we were working on reading and writing, we also talked about how far I have come in these four months.

If you didn't know what had happened to me and saw me out and about, you would have no idea what I have been through. I don't have the physical issues I had immediately following the stroke. I can walk as well as I did before, and I am regaining my strength. Most of the time, unless I'm really tired, I can carry on a perfectly normal conversation. Looking at me, or listening to me, would leave you completely unaware that anything has happened to me. It's remarkable, and I am so grateful for how God has brought me through this!

There are still issues. My therapist refers to them as things that need "fine tuning". I still struggle with numbers. Sometimes I get colors mixed up. And reading is the biggest struggle of all. My reading is improving, but it is much slower than it once was. I have to pick and choose what I try to read. For example, when I'm on Facebook or reading e-mail, I can only manage short sentences at a time. Interestingly, it's easier for me to read from my Bible than from any other book I have attempted.  When I do try to read from a book, it needs to have large print and certain fonts work better than others.

All of this is part of the process. I'm learning what I can and can't do. What works well and what I find too overwhelming. I still don't answer the phone, for example. I don't write checks. I don't pay the bill when we go out to eat. I could pay the bill with my debit card, but I can't figure out the tip and I can't add the tip to the bill and come out with the correct total. Right now, anything with numbers is just not in my wheel house.

Yes, there are things I can't do. But there are so many more things I can do! I am doing so much better than I would ever have dreamed possible in those first few days in rehab. And certainly far more than I would have believed based on what I've been told about those first few days in ICU.

I still have struggles. And I struggle more when I'm tired. But I'm doing well and adjusting well to my new normal.

I am a very blessed, very grateful woman. I certainly never expected to have a stroke. And in the first few weeks after, I never expected I would recover so well. Stroke recover is a process, and I still have a long way to go, but I am so very grateful for all the ways God has blessed me through this process.

From now on I suppose I will always be thinking about life as "before stroke" and "after stroke". Here in the "after stroke", life is different, but life is good. Each day is a precious gift. Perhaps that's once of the greatest gifts of this experience - viewing each day as a gift, as part of a new lease on life.

I don't do all the things I once did. I need a lot of naps and I run out of energy pretty quickly. But life is good, and I am blessed!

"I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth."
(Psalm 34:1 NASB)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Prone to Complain

I hate the time change.

There. I said it.

Even in my pre-stroke, didn't need nearly so much sleep, days. I don't understand the point of Daylight-Savings Time. We aren't saving any time. There are still only 24 hours in a day. What's the point of all this anyway?

So I find myself singing Prone to complain, Lord, I feel it........

And I suspect I may not be the only one.

Add to the time change the fact that we have been suddenly jerked back into Winter (it's 24 degrees as I am typing this post), I'm feeling a little out of sorts. Which has turned me into a bit of a whiner. Which means I need to redirect my thinking. Turn my thoughts in a different direction.

That happens to all of us from time to time, wouldn't you agree? It's really easy to focus on the things that annoy us, the things that frustrate us, the things that have us out of sorts. Things like the time change, or any number of other things.

But I'm tired of being out of sorts. I don't want to be cranky. So I'm choosing to redirect my thinking. 

I can't control the time change. But I can choose not to let it control me.

Today, I choose joy. I choose praise. I choose worship.

"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name."
(Psalm 103:1)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Good Day

Today is a good day to have a good day.

I came across that saying on Facebook this morning. It's something I have read before. Perhaps even something I have quoted from time to time. But today it is very appropriate, because this is a good day.

In spite of the gloomy weather.

In spite of the pollen.

In spite of all my rheumatoid challenges.

In spite of all that and more, this is a good day.

Today is one of the best mornings I have had since November. Today I feel more like myself than I have felt since my stroke.

No, I didn't wake up and discover this morning that I no longer have any stroke-related issues. I didn't suddenly discover that I can read and write just the way I used to, and I have no memory loss, and my vision is suddenly perfect again.

That didn't happen.

But what I did discover this morning was that I could read better than I have been able to read since the stroke. That I read several chapters of my Bible this morning without fumbling over the word. Yes, I still read more slowly than I did before. But there is a huge improvement today.

I worked on my therapy homework this morning and made fewer mistakes with numbers than I did yesterday. Huge improvement since yesterday.

But beyond these improvements, I feel better today. Significantly better. More like myself.

Will I still struggle with numbers? Or read more slowly. Or forget things. Or have trouble with words. Maybe. Probably.

But that's ok. Stroke recovery is a process. And today I'm feeling good!

Today is a good day to have a good day!

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Things That Really Matter

People sometimes ask how my life has changed since my stroke. What have I learned through this experience. That isn't an easy question to answer. Perhaps the biggest lesson I am continuing to learn is that stroke recovery is a process. A long, infuriating, complicated process.

In this process, some days are good and some not so much. Some days start out good and then switch gears for no apparent reason. I'm learning in this process that I need a lot of sleep. That everything things a lot longer than I think it will. That I'm forgetful. That I mix words up. That I still can't do numbers. That many of the things I once loved to do are still out of my reach, at least some of the time. And I'm learning that all of that is OK. I'm learning to take this process one step at a time. A few steps forward and a few steps back, but still ultimately moving forward toward recovery. I'm learning not to sweat the small stuff.

In my former life as a perfectionist, even the least little thing really mattered to me. Misspelled words. Grammatical errors. Etc. Etc.

I still think its important to spell things correctly and to write a well constructed sentence. I still get annoyed when words are misspelled, particularly by people who should know better. And I am most annoyed when those who are pointing fingers at others are, in fact, making worse grammatical errors than the ones they are criticizing.

But here in my "new normal", those things aren't nearly as important as they once were. Yes, I still want to spell thing correctly and punctuate my sentences properly. But the reality is, I don't always do that.

Sometimes I just hit the wrong key and don't catch myself. Sometimes I can't remember how a word is spelled. Sometimes I just don't even know I made a mistake. All those are reality for me in my "new normal". And I am learning that those things are ok. The world won't come to an end if I misspell something or if I get a word wrong.

My "new normal" means that I can't do the same things I once took for granted. Those things frustrate me, but I'm learning to live with the limitations of my stroke. I'm learning to accept that I won't always get things exactly right. That sometimes I will misspell or missspeak. That sometimes I won't remember what I'm trying to say.

But I am also learned something much more important. I've learned to be more tolerant. Of myself and of others. And that's a good thing.

Is stroke recovery a frustrating process? Sure it is!

In spite of the frustrations, in this journey to stroke recovery I am learning some very valuable life lessons. I am learning to listen to my body when I need more sleep. I'm learning that my mission in life is not to impress other people. That it's ok to acknowledge my frustrations and my disabilities.

Most of all, I'm learning more and more about trusting God. About relying on Him to meet my needs.

And I'm learning to be thankful in every circumstance. On the good days and the bad days and all the in between days.

Learning to trust more and more.

Learning to take one day at a time.

And resting in the knowledge that God is in control.

Those are the things that really matter.

"In everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
(I Thessalonians 5:18 NASB)

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. A Book Review.

Having read, and enjoyed, a number of Julie Klassen's books, I had looked forward to reading her latest work, The Innkeeper Of Ivy Hill.

Set in a fictional English village called Ivy Hill where the coaching village, The Bell, is the lifeblood of the village, the story begins with the inn in disarray. The innkeeper has died, leaving behind a large sum of money owed to the bank and his widow having no idea how to manage the inn in his place. The story is complicated by the strained relationship between the widow and her mother-in-law.

I wanted to enjoy this book. Particularly since this was my first attempt at reading a full book since my stroke, I wanted this to be a pleasant experience. Having enjoyed all the previous books I had read by Julie Klassen, that was what I expected.

Instead, I found myself very disappointed. The characters were not interesting. The dialogue was stilted, and the writing was overdone. This was a book where, far too often, ten words were used when two would have been sufficient! This was a very tedious experience. To be blunt, I was bored.

I had looked forward to reading this book. I wanted to enjoy it. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed, and I cannot recommend it.

I received a free copy of The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill from Bethany House Publishing in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Nothing Is Impossible!

"For nothing will be impossible with God."  (Luke 1:13 NASB)

Yesterday was a banner day in my journey to stroke recovery. Yesterday I was so blessed and thankful to be able to once again lead our Life Group bible study. I am a blessed woman indeed!

We were studying yesterday in the Old Testament book of Ruth. We spent a lot of our time yesterday talking about Naomi. If you haven't read it lately, take some time to read Ruth chapter 1. Naomi's story is a sad story. There was a famine. They had no food so Naomi and her family had to relocate to a foreign country. While they were living in the foreign country, her husband died. Then both her sons died. It's a really sad story.

But God made a way for Naomi. God provided exactly what Naomi needed.

Just as God has provided everything I have needed to get through the challenges I have been facing in stroke recovery.

Your story may not be exactly like Naomi's story. Or exactly like my story. But you have a story. Each of us has challenges and trials and difficult circumstances to deal with. We all have a story. We all have "stuff" to deal with.

God provided everything Naomi needed to deal with the challenges of her life. He has provided everything I have needed to face the challenges of my life.

And He is able to do the same for you.

Because nothing is impossible with God!

"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen"

Monday, February 13, 2017


My, how time flies! This week, on Wednesday, we will mark the three-month anniversary since my stroke. In many ways, it seems much longer than that,
yet I realize that this is really a very short time.

In this last week, I have achieved several significant accomplishments. For one thing, I baked a cake. From scratch! I had baked a couple of things in rehab, from a box mix. And I had another baking assignment when I began outpatient therapy, again using a box mix. But this week I baked a cake from scratch, using a recipe I had found on Pinterest. According to Pinterest, this is the World's Best Banana Cake recipe. I think that's a bit of a stretch, since I didn't really think it was all that good and certainly not good enough to justify all the effort, but I did it!

The hardest part of the cake-baking endeavor was assembling the ingredients!  Anything to do with numbers is still a really big challenge for me, so it took quite a while to check and double-check the ingredients list, but I was pretty proud of myself when it was finished!

This past week I've been walking longer distances and also working out at the gym. All this is helping me to get my strength back, and that is a really good feeling!

My reading is continuing to improve, although I confess it is still slower than I would like. My therapist is pleased with my progress and is very encouraging about prospects for my continued recovery. I have begun reading a novel, which is going much more slowly than it did in the past, but I am able to read, which makes me very happy. And I am even happier that I will resume teaching in our life group next week. Being able to do what I love to do makes me very happy indeed!

I have heard a number of different responses over the last several weeks as I have been getting out and about. You're looking good. Or You're doing well. Or You look great!

The response I love is You look so happy! Because I am!

Stroke recovery is a process. A long, challenging process. Some days are getter than others. Even in this last week, which was a very good week, there were days that were really challenging. But through all that, the good days and the challenging days, I am happy!

God has been so good to me! I am a very blessed woman, and so very grateful for how God has brought me through this very challenging time. There are good days, and challenging days, and all the in between days. But through it all, God is good.

And I me happy indeed!