Pity Party, Table for One

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”  – Ernest Hemmingway                                                                                 

It has been four years since the stroke. Notice that I don’t say “I had a stroke” or “my stroke”. The stroke is something that happened to me, it wasn’t given nor do I own it.  However, I own my recovery. I am in charge of rewiring and rerouting my brain so that I could have a full, thriving life post-stroke.

These past four years have been marked with many trials, errors, fears, and success. I have a deep appreciation of what I have overcome and of the support and love of people around me. I also know that I have a long road ahead of me in terms of recovery. Some people celebrate the day of their stroke as another birthday.  They celebrate a renewal of life. 

I do not celebrate what some call a “strokeaversary”. I cannot celebrate a day that negatively changed my life and that of my family forever. Celebrations, I believe, are for happy events and joyful memories.

These are the reasons I why don’t celebrate:

  1. The stroke was a very scary experience for my family. My children and my husband worried for days if I was going to wake up again. And if I did, would I even recognize them. Stroke traumatized my family.
  2. My relationship with my kids has changed. I went from being a full-time caregiver to someone who needed to be taken care of.  
  3. My husband has become my caregiver. Now that the boys do not need us as much, Armando and I should be enjoying ourselves. Instead, he constantly worries about me.
  4. I feel that the stroke was part of the reason for my mother’s untimely demise. She constantly worried about me and I definitely was not easy on her. I am sure the stress of caring for me contributed to her stroke.
  5. I lost my independence. I am still not driving, my family doesn’t think I am ready to be behind the wheel. To be honest, I don’t think that I trust myself with driving yet. My reaction time is still pretty slow and I easily get overwhelmed. As a result, I have to rely on others for rides. Uber or Lyft is great, but not always practical.
  6. I was a healthy, active, and confident 43-year old. I was at a point in my life where I was happy with myself. I worked hard to get there.  I thought I was doing everything “right”; eating healthy, staying active, and enjoying positive relationships. The stroke took away what I had worked hard to achieve.
  7. Running was more than a hobby, it was a passion. It was an activity that boosted my morale, my ego, and my endorphins. It was a good and healthy way for me to de-stress. Through running, I met the greatest friends I could ask for. 
  8. Everyone in my family was negatively affected. I am not the sister, aunt, daughter, and friend I used to be.  I cannot celebrate that.

I know that there are people whose lives were changed for the better after a stroke. They have become more self-aware, and have made strides towards a healthier and better version of themselves. 

My life was not perfect before the stroke, but I was at a place where I was content. There were stressors of course, but they were manageable. 

I am still angry. I am still grieving. I have lost more than physical abilities to stroke. There are days when I feel like I am fighting a never-ending battle.

Stroke tried to kill me, but only succeeded to break me. I am slowly rebuilding the broken pieces. I remain hopeful, resilient, and persistent.  Maybe someday I will celebrate a strokeaversary.