Guest Post – CouragePosted: February 7, 2014
*** From time to time I hope to have others post their thoughts relative to the broad issues raised on this blog. Below is one such article. I know you will enjoy it. (Should you have some thoughts to share, please just let me know via a comment and I will contact you.) ***
THE following is written primarily from the perspective of a Stroke Survivor. Having been the survivor of motorcycle accidents, auto accidents, a couple of aircraft incidents, snow tubing accidents, and two massive heart attacks, in addition to being a stroke survivor, I would have to say that it pretty well defines the survivor of many if not most medical maladies.
I AM The BridgeWalker
The Most Courageous Individual in the World.
You sit there, or stand there, and you ask yourself, “What the hell is going on here?” My dear Friend, you’ve have just joined a rather unique, closed society. You’ve just had a trauma, of some degree of severity, that will affect you the remainder of your life. The consequences of that trauma will be variable, but very definite.
I am not a doctor. I have no medical training, other than the most basic first aid that all humanity somehow manages to achieve. So, I will caution you right now – don’t expect a definitive, medical treatise on stroke and its effects. Rather, I am a stroke survivor. I am a writer. I am a human being, with the anger of a human being whose life became derailed from its arguably smooth boredom.
Stroke recovery is far from being boring, I can promise you that!
Before you even go to the hospital, you know something’s up. Maybe your legs collapse on you. Maybe your speech slurs, or your vision suddenly changes. Maybe your arms won’t function properly. Maybe your mental functions are all skewed up. Maybe you don’t remember what you had for breakfast, and that breakfast was eaten fifteen minutes ago. Maybe you have lost the words you want, to express the feelings you feel. Maybe you have all of the above, or only maybe one or two of the consequences and / or after effects. And it all seems to happen without any warning whatsoever. Well, guess what~!
You, my beloved friend, have entered the realm of the most courageous individuals in the world. You have joined the Legion of the Stroke Survivors, and / or, the Realm of the Physically Challenged.
“So, what do I do now?” you ask.
Realize you are going to run the gamut of emotions like you never have before. You are going to be the strongest person in the world one moment, and you very well could honestly say, “I’m feeling very down and vulnerable! I feel fragile.” the next moment. Both are equally valid, and proper. Frustration will run rampant and be a major attribute in your life for a variety of reasons.
Be honest with yourself, and with those around you. Don’t be afraid, and don’t be ashamed, to admit you are feeling less than robust, or angry, or confused. You’ll find your wings, soon enough.
It is OKAY! But to heal, or to regain as much as is possible (and even more than is possible!) is going to require the most intense integrity and the most honest evaluation of yourself you have ever undergone. That is the only way you can take ownership of your malady. Only by taking ownership of your challenge can you begin to work with it, and to overcome it. When you take ownership, you take control. And that which you control, you can work with to heal.
Love and respect the medical professionals around you, who work with you in all the necessary capacities. But do realize, as well, that you are in charge. You are the one who has to evaluate and work with the information and assistance they can give you. They are professionals, yes, but they are not gods. They are humans who love and respect other humans who are facing life changing, traumatic experiences. And you are definitely in a life changing circumstance or event, of indeterminate duration. By accepting that fact, by owning that fact, you can control your emotional, mental, and intellectual response. And when you do that, your physical response will be much the greater and much more positive and powerful. Don’t be afraid to question, but do honor and respect the response, even if you dispute it, or disagree.
You are not a handicapped person. You have become a person with a physical and mental challenge. When companies and individuals encounter challenges, they go into problem solving mode. They take ownership of the situation, and in that way they can freely confront the demon in front of them. And yes, it can be a demon. You have all the tools to overcome that demon, and all the assistance you can ask for. But you are the one who has to take control, and ask for that assistance. Remember, we tend to perceive challenges as stepping stones, but we see problems as stumbling blocks. There is a vast difference in how we approach the situation, as well as a vast difference in the resolution of the situation ahead of us.
There may be individuals who cannot handle the challenges you face. There may be individuals who have no empathy or understanding of what you are going through. Harsh as it sounds, let such individuals depart from your environment. You don’t need negativity in your life, nor in your environment. You need the strength to admit, “I Hurt.” Or, “I feel frail.”Those in your environment need to have the empathy and the strength to say to you, “I’m Here for you, what can I do?” and yes, they also need to have the ability to read your situation, and take independent action in your benefit, on your behalf, in your support. Realize, indeed, you are the most important individual in your world. Without you, you could not live. You cannot live without those around you, either.
Never forget that you are an individual, unique and powerful in your own right. You are, indeed, a Child of the Universe. You are a Child of the Most High Supreme Deity, however you believe in God. God does not, indeed CANNOT, forsake His/Her own.
Maintaining your sense of self worth is one of the biggest factors in stroke recovery. I could type this a hundred times, and it would not be enough. You are the same person you have always been. The only thing now is, you have to find and develop new tools to accomplish the same challenges you have always faced. Actually, you are not the same person you have always been. You will find you have become much more than you were, though the indications of that will not always be visible to you or to others. You will find you have grown and matured into a marvelous Being of Strength, Integrity, and dare I say, Power~!
It doesn’t matter what your passions are, the accomplishment of your artistry, of your crafts, will change. The manner in which you perform your professional responsibilities will change. You need all the tools you can muster, to regain the level of prominence, of competence you had before your stroke. In other words, you have to go back to school, but not necessarily to a structured classroom.
In today’s world, much of what we do is computerized. Yet, always, we need to use our minds and our bodies. Writers will need on-desktop icons of assistance, such as thesaurus’ or dictionaries. Don’t be ashamed to use them. Artists and craftsmen will need to develop different strategies to accomplish their chosen tasks. Don’t be afraid to develop new and unique ways of doing things. After all, there are painters who have no arms, and hold the brushes between their toes!
One thing is very important here, and is often overlooked. The depth of your accomplishments will very probably change. Be aware of that possibility, and accept it. In fact, because of the slower pace of your life, you will find they have deepened and possibly become much sharper and more focused. This will be to your benefit.
Be Honest with yourself. Take Ownership of your Challenges. Don’t relinquish your Spiritual faith. If you don’t already have it, develop a sense of humor, a sense of the ridiculous. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself. Learn to laugh at yourself, and the situation you find yourself in. Develop a sense of the ridiculous, and don’t let anyone put you down or attack your self-esteem.
Write notes to yourself as memory joggers. And don’t be afraid or ashamed to laugh at yourself when you forget where the heck you put them. Realize that humor and laughter are the grandest forms of medicine and therapy.
Develop organization, if you don’t already have it. Yes, I know that it is very important, and will have benefits that are difficult, if not impossible, to measure. Just don’t ask me! if I am organized. I would have to admit that being organized is not in my environmental parameters. I’m working on the idea, when I take the time to remember to do so~! Seriously, being organized will be of great assistance in your therapy and recovery. It will permit you to remember and possibly regain a lot of the mental functions you may have lost on a temporary basis. Just remember the old saying: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” There’s a lot of truth in that statement.
Love Yourself, and be gentle with yourself. Be understanding of your challenges, and the steps, the work that is needed to overcome those challenges. Develop your support network. Realize that there are times when you will need mental, emotional and spiritual support. This is in addition to any physical assistance or support and therapy you may be undergoing. Utilize the support organizations that are available to you.
You may feel that all you are doing is taking, taking, taking. I would beg to differ with you, and inform you that what you are doing is giving, giving and teaching those who are in your social and cultural and family environment. Join or attend regularly the various stroke survivor groups in your residential area, or that you are familiar with. What you take from those meetings will be invaluable to you, just as the contributions and insights you offer will be invaluable to those who are your meeting mates.
Always,,, Always and Always and ALWAYS, Love yourself. Love the person you are, and the person you have become, and are becoming, You are unique, and are a very important thread in the Tapestry of God’s Creation. You have a job to do and a mission to accomplish. God has not given up on you, so don’t give up on yourself. You have a lot to offer to the advancement of humanity,
Only those who have the inner strength and power are given the challenges that make strong people weep and wail. You, Beloved Friend, are among the divinely chosen, as to set an example in Courage, Strength and Integrity for all humankind.
You are among the Most Courageous Individuals in the World.
I will grant you that this is written from the perspective of a Stroke Survivor. Do not feel, however, that it would only apply in that case. Those who have perfect health have little or no understanding of the challenges the medically impaired face on a continuing basis. For the most part, such individuals go about their daily tasks, without complaint or making a big fuss over what they cannot do, that they used to do. The medically challenged of any aspect are actually the most proficient in finding ways to achieve what it is they so choose to achieve. And if they don’t satisfy another’s standards, well, that is just too bad, isn’t it? ~! ~?
The following credo is one that may be of great use to you, in your dealings with your new relationship to your environment, and the challenges you face in your future:
“Get over it, World ~! I have a goal I will accomplish. And that is to suit myself, and to live to my own standards. Yours no longer apply. I will do what I can, to the best of my ability. And if you don’t like it, well, Nancy Sinatra, years ago, had a statement, in response to a different situation, that fits this one quite well. “Hmmm, Sorry ‘bout that~!”
“I may not remember now, as I did before. I may not find the words that are missing in my lexicon, my vocabulary, as I did before. Maybe my typing is slower, and letters are missing,,, Get over it. Take me for the ideas that I am trying to convey, the explanation of the concepts I perceive.
“Maybe I don’t walk as fast as I used to,,, or if I do, maybe I tire much quicker, and don’t walk as far. Maybe I don’t see as well,,, or maybe I see some things more clearly, though you may not see them at all. Or, maybe I don’t hear the words you speak so well, anymore,,, but then, maybe the music I hear is beyond the belief and ability of a human to express, or even to comprehend.
“Grow into my world, even as I attempt to exist and live in yours. My dignity has not diminished. Only my capabilities have changed. In some arenas, they have expanded. In others, they may have contracted. The goal is to achieve a workable balance. The goal is to realize what is important, what is relevant, and let the rest of it land where it needs to. The goal is to recognize that all are worthy of being loved, just for what they are. And when they are accepted and loved for what they are, you’ll find that you have a Polished Gemstone in the Crown of God. No more, and no less.”
Revised and Copyright 20 April 2011
© The BridgeWalker