Posts Tagged ‘stroke survivor’

Multiplicity

There is no Multiverse, but there are multiple versions of you. Throughout your Life,  within every person that’s been close with you, lives a version of you from that  time period.  Every version is different, and they culminate into the person you are in this moment. After  I suffered a debilitating stroke, I wanted the versions of myself that lived in my friends minds to be what existed in the current physical realm. Therefore, I actually hid from some people,  preferring to be the version that they remembered  over  the version of me that is. This sentiment crossed my mind again more recently upon the impending reunion with a long time friend. However, I  pushed those notions away in favor of anticipation.  Where I once wanted to stay hidden away in favor of a memory  was no more. Because, I’ve realized  staying stuck as the same version in someone’s mind  correlates to being stuck in the here and now. There is no growth in that. Besides, with the right person  you  won’t be afraid to be yourself.  Even if I was in a wheelchair, they could see me walking. Even though my left side may be currently paralyzed, they could see me moving fluidly. In fact,  whatever the current physical reality was, they would see me. And, just the same, I would see them! That’s the beauty of knowing. It’s not that we have the ability to recall a preferred version of each other, but rather that we can see each other through whatever version we are currently inhabiting. The ability to  do this with one another is not only true authenticity, but it’s what creates a safe place. It is a space in which we can be messy.  A place in which we can be vulnerable. A place  in which we can truly share a laugh. Furthermore, one in which, failure is okay and successes are celebrated. My wish is not to be an old version of myself that is remembered by someone, but to be brave enough to shatter that memory and replace it with who I am today.  More importantly I hope to always have people in my Life that I can do that with, and I hope you do too!

Endurance

No one is brought up in this World and taught that Life is difficult from a young age. Rather we all seem to come to that belief later in Life!  I used to wonder why after about age thirty ,it seemed that  for most people  there was a problematic decline in their level of optimism. Therefore, I vowed at an early age never to lose my child like wonder or become a cranky elderly person. Rather, I wanted to hold onto my  optimistic view, youthful vigor, and appreciation  for the small things.  I’m actually proud to report that I’ve managed thus far to  uphold my youthful promise to myself. It  certainly hasn’t been  of a conscious effort. Rather,  I owe it to my  natural disposition, sub conscious mind, and of all things a near death experience. While I’m admittedly  not thankful for the vast number of physical difficulties(painful ones too)  I have come to realize that there has been an immense strengthening during those stretches of time.  In a way time stopped for me on October 12th, 2012 when I unexpectedly suffered a massive stroke.  After that point, my plans for ages 28 and 29, were taken on an extended detour. I struggled to bridge the gap and  maintain things for awhile, but- as Dylan sings “The times they are a changin,”  and that’s okay. Because  there is good news rolled into the bad news of that reality.  It meant, my suffering(and yours) would not last forever, just as the good times don’t last forever. Although my plight could’ve led to imminent disaster, quite the opposite occurred. I found those cliche’ sayings to ring true. It really is the darkest before the dawn! For me it was a slow dawning to the realization that, in what I once saw as a complete loss, was actually a complete gain! A gain of time rather than the loss of it. A gain of appreciation  for beauty rather than the ignorance of the beauty Life holds.  Most importantly, a  leap in wisdom that usually only old age or tough trials can bring.  I don’t claim to know it all, quite the opposite. -but- I do know that if you look closely at the trials in your own Life, you’ll find  the strength to overcome rather than  be overcome.

TO LOVE NY

” Somewhere between living and dreaming. there’s New York.” -unknown.

To love this  bustling city full of skyscrapers whose lights mingle with the sky, turning into stars of their own is to love yourself.  The city will test your strength, test your resolve, and give new meaning to manifest destiny. Rent isn’t too expensive, it’s  simply the admission price you pay for a ticket to the best ride of your Life.  This “town,” will present you with hurdles to access the most ordinary of activities, and then reward you with  inumerable   opportunities.  The streets have worn down the rubber soles of my shoes like hungry children eating cake at a birthday party.  It is not so much a glamorous  life here, as it is a rewarding one. The  apartments overflow with interesting individuals, that possess all levels of  potential. However, there is no vacancy for mediocrity! If  there is a diamond to be produced from a lump of coal, New York City will squeeze it out of you. If you’re open and willing you’ll climb the ladder in an upward direction. Here  there aren’t streets of identical  little box homes with cars in the driveway, and manicured lawns. Instead, everything is jumbled, different, and there’s a subway entrance that can  take you around  more than 665 miles of track. Laid end to end  the Transit train tracks would stretch to Chicago. Riding a subway train  opens  up more opportunity to you than any car ride you could ever take around  an identical block of houses! You see, there’s no special club you must join to live here. One only needs  a heaping helping of ambition. If you find the prospect of  getting groceries, washing laundry, or a trip to the Post Office becoming more  arduous too much to  bear, I’d be quick to point out that just as the mundane becomes  ever more so,  the same can be said of enjoyable activities. Suddenly there are oodles of openings in your chosen career field, leisurely and cultural  events are within walking distance, and they happen frequently, often even for free.  If you’re a person that can see openings where others only see closed doors, this place is for you. I don’t love New York for its image or even for the food, but for what it has  contributed to my Life.  I’ve learned that hitting the pavement,  talking to everyone, and binge willing to   hustle harder  than  everyone else,  means your reward will be greater than what everyone else is getting.   If you allow it to be,  the city  will be the stone that sharpens you.  So,  I’d suggest  wherever you are don’t be afraid to put yourself in the uncomfortable position to be sharpened. However, it’s something that will happen a lot faster in New York City!

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The perception of loss

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
– Winston Churchill.

Some events in our lives are so vile, we can only truly reflect on them(or share them) many years later.  So, what happened on October 12th of 2012? Well, I lost everything. For me, those many years later happen to be a decade. I suppose I can thank  cognitive dissonance for helping me to navigate through the impossible.  No matter how many times a  well meaning therapist or loved one attempted to  label me disabled,  waxed poetic about a “new normal,” or looked at me with complete disbelief when I declared my goals, none of it mentally deterred me.  Because, deep down I know I have lost nothing, only gained. I can clearly recall bellowing out in emotional pain  from the deepest darkest place of my soul, whilst laying on a therapy mat in a  hospital rehabilitation gym among other broken people, who were  crawling around like worms unable to  walk/sit up, or rolling around  on their backs like flipped over turtles. I didn’t want to be among these people, and I  certainly did not want to  BE one of these people! However, nonetheless I was. There was no denying the medical records, or the gravity of my unexpected circumstances. Not grasping that my brain wasn’t cooperating I would punch my paralyzed left arm  with anger and hate. The   reality is that for all the time I felt I’d lost, I actually gained  time. In fact, since that vile day in October, rather then it resulting in my death, my Life was spared.  Per my calculation, since then I’ve  navigated through 86,400 hours that I almost never had. I almost never saw my surprise Breakfast at Tiffany’s themed 30th birthday. I almost never met Lucy aka Goose the dog love of my Life.  I almost never felt the Summer sun  gently warming my skin, or  felt the beautiful Fall breeze  brush across my face. Instead, I now drive by the funeral home where my wake would’ve been held  and see other people’s names on the  sign.  Loss is only perceived, and in the face of any “loss,”  you can choose to push through to gain.  Therefore, do not weep over a failure only see it as an opportunity for growth. Because, as long as you are living there is a purpose and a hope.

Collide.

This is a tale of  four people(although imagined)  with four separate lives that somehow  streamed  into one river, before branching off into different  directions. It’s funny how  a complete stranger wrote a show that so often  mirrors the spirit (and content) of my Life in New York City as a 20’s something Girl. Discovering not only  what the five Boroughs of New York  could offer me  during my  burgeoning Adulthood, but navigating  the  sometimes complicated relationships too! Just as a  comet speeds through space colliding with other objects and leaving pieces of itself behind, so do we as people. Each relationship, meaningful interaction,  successes, and failures have either built me up or broke me down. However, unlike Hannah Horvath, I never got to have a “goodbye tour,”  of my  Life and neighborhood  in New York. Rather I fast forwarded through what I expected to be my fourth year in the city; instead waking up in a rehab hospital in Michigan. Which, needless to say was a shock to my system. Not  fully grasping what had happened to me( I was unconscious for most of it after all)  I just wanted to be back  in New York. A place where completing even the most mundane or trivial of tasks, makes you feel like a champion. A place that is as difficult to succeed in, as the concrete is hard.   I chose to live there, for it’s electric energy, for the massive amounts of opportunities, and to fulfill my teenage dream. As a  fresh out of college  25 year old  graduate it was the perfect place for me. Why?  Because as I navigate stroke recovery and Life after a near Death experience, New York gave me guts. Not the kind you see in a horror movie, but real guts. The kind that helps you to fake it til’ you make it and go after what you want with no apologies. Do you find that behavior rude?  Ladder climbing? Well, that’s just Life in the city babe. Where I once cursed the contrast of the Michigan trees to skyscrapers, the suburban sprawl to city streets, and  the slow pace to  the city’s efficiency; now I am thankful for it. Just as I found myself in NY at the right time and place, my recovery is    happening at the right time and in the right place as well. I have run long and hard, but now it’s time to learn how to walk again.   

         -XO BLEU

H.E double hockey sticks.

“My favorite driver is always either the bad guy or the underdog.” -Bo Jackson.

  John Colone has always been in on the joke. In fact, most likely He orchestrated it. Hell, Michigan has not only been the catalyst for many events, and caused some local controversies, but it’s also a place that champions the underdog. Wayward travelers, misfits, survivors, and tourists from all over the world visit this tiny town. There is not only an atmosphere of mischief, but of acceptance. Have crazy colored hair? Welcome.  Physically disabled? Welcome. A massive stroke survivor? Welcome.   All are welcome, and if you are a misfit of society, all the better. This is because, not only is there no discrimination in the town of Hell, they understand survivors. The struggle is real, and many who populate this place, from tourists to “Hellbillies.” get it.  The attitude is refreshing and not often found outside of  the borders of Hell. Imagine a place where you are given a chance to do something different, to be who you are, and to succeed. Well, then maybe you should get a job in town, I just did! Yup. After spending  countless hours putting my efforts into finding  employment the traditional way, at the usual places….. All I had to do was go down the street! Because right around the corner from me, is Hell. Michigan. I considered secretary positions, jobs related to my field of expertise(medical) and technological jobs.  However, I ultimately landed in the place I need to be at this time.  You know the saying “If you build it they will come?” Well, John built a town based on a punchline and over the years Good Morning America has passed through, Netflix, The Travel Channel, and even Sundance.  I suspect all the attention is the result of more than a funny name. Because, just like the charm of a stranger or honey to a bee, Hell has a natural magnetism. An energy that can be better understood if you spend any length of time here. Even more so if you meet the man behind the curtain. If you’d like to check it out more  visit http://www.gotohellmi.com  or drop by in person and say Hello. Perhaps, I’ll see you there!

The Plight of Angels

“All God’s angels come to us disguised.”  – James Russell Lowell

Love may not be tangible, but the objects that result from it are. I can look around me and see gifts from each person that loves me. They adorn my walls, my desk space, and take up residence in my record cabinet! Each object is a token of love from an irreplaceable human. However, not all of these seemingly  ordinary people  are human, some  of them are angels. Indeed  one of these creatures was actually my nurse while I was sedated in  the ICU. She prayed over me, sang the same songs, and today we share the same understanding.  Much like a palindrome, where there are words hidden within, and it’s understood in both directions, an invisible  river  of a s shared experience runs between us that ties us together. We knew nothing of each other before She  walked into my room, but that didn’t matter to Her, nonetheless She was going to put 200% of Herself into caring for me. Even now, I don’t believe I fully grasp the gravity of my situation in 2012. I have since learned that I was discovered on the floor gasping for breath in agony(a sign of a brain in the process of dying) and needed to be resuscitated. This was the state  from which a team of humans(and  many angels) were tasked  with bringing me back from. I was on the brink of death, and they weren’t going to let me completely fall! During the time that I spent in a coma, I wish I could  recall something, anything. However,  that time instead is one big blank in the  continuum of my timeline. While I lay unaware of my surroundings, the people that were there to observe felt the pain for me. Therefore,   they experienced it just as much(if not more) then I did!    Because of this lapse in consciousness, I’m discovering my own story  as if it is happening for the first time. It’s a rather weird  thing to have had such an earth shattering experience, but not to recall it.  As many of the details that I’ve missed, I certainly have not failed to recognize the key players in my  tale. Although, my story nearly ended in  total tragedy, now that I’m awake(and alive) to take over the narrative you can bet I’ll have a happy ending. Life is what you make of it!

-XOXO BLEU

Lets Get Real.

When you stop living your life based on what others think of you, real life begins.”
-unknown.

For most of us were thankful that our private thoughts  remain unknown by most of the people around us. But what if they weren’t? Would you be embarrassed,  shamed, or uneasy?  Most likely  it’s a mix of all three. Therefore I’m sure you’re thankful that no one can read your mind! However, what happens when(and if) you meet someone that can see right through you? It’s uncomfortable to say the least. Well, more recently  that very thing happened to me. But you know what? After the initial horror it was quickly followed by a mixture of relief and a feeling of  refreshment. That’s certainly  due to the fact that I needed to be called out! I think you probably do too. How are we to live an authentic life(that is the trending hashtag is it not) if we can’t be real with one another or even ourselves? The problem seems to  be with safety. How safe do you  feel with others? How safe do you feel venturing into the void of your own heart? And  finally, in this upside down world, do you feel safe at all?  Not many of us come across people we feel safe  with. If you’re  blessed you will find  a person that has your best interest in mind. Today, for the first time ever I met one of  those people. It was scary! It was refreshing! Last but not least I am blessed for it!   When you get called out personally, see this as a chance to grow. If  you’re not  uncomfortable  you are not growing. So grit your teeth, clench your eyes, or stay silent when you want to scream, and get uncomfortable. Somewhere in your loss of comfort  you’ll find the kind of gains that will make you a better person.

At the crossroads of strength and determination.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, “plans to  prosper you  and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.

When someone is empowered they will use their power to do what they feel they are able to do. Knowing that you can direct your intentions to choose the reality you want to experience is a game changer. However,  as we know life does not follow a straight and orderly(much less expected) path. So, what do you do when a traumatic event turns your life upside-down? Well, you can stew in misery for awhile feeling stuck in your circumstances-OR- you can choose to overcome them. This becomes possible when you are told that you can overcome them! Indeed, for a time I felt powerless as if I was aimlessly drifting along on the waves of time. But then someone much more enlightened than I, told me  that I had the power to break free from such circumstances. Lately I have been meditating on these truths. With each passing day that I  do,  it becomes clearer and clearer that I have  an exciting future. No longer am I fearful that  I will have a life lived inside a small box, but rather I can see the possibilities. And. Let.Me.Tell.You. It is exciting! The massive stroke did not kill me, it did not steal my humor, lessen my intelligence, or revoke my creativity. In fact, in the oddest(and sometimes worst) way possible   this major setback has become my setup. Therefore,    I have learned that  I am an overcomer. And  just in case you’ve been misinformed…  SO. ARE.  YOU.

Discovery

“Life is too short to be at war with yourself.” -unknown.

After  a traumatic brain injury  our souls tend to get lost in the fog. Actually,  after any serious trauma, every person  needs some time to get a strong foothold on reality once more. However, with strokes and injuries of similar circumstances there can be personality changes.   I remember my Mother saying “You’re still there!” As I giggled with joy at the fact, She had recognized in me  a character trait that had been unchanged by my stroke.  Much like Robin Williams is not recognized by the lost boys as Peter Pan; I had to let my personality shine through so I could be recognized. I was so afraid that besides stealing my life circumstances the stroke had taken my personality too. I spent a great deal of time questioning the what-ifs, buts, and making excuses. Such self doubt led to me over explaining my intentions and questioning myself.  Resulting in a further retreat of my personality. It was when I finally let go, and receded into peace while my circumstances washed around me like water; that I was able to find my way   through the fog of such a traumatic event. If only I had learned to let go sooner, how much further along would I be now? I was clinging to life as it  was, rather then how it IS. Accepting your circumstances doesn’t mean you’re going to settle for being stuck, quite the opposite! Instead, through acceptance comes peace and THEN the real battle can begin.  We all have a variety of battles to fight on our individual paths through life. However, that fight becomes much more difficult when your own ego gets in the way. When you finally embrace the path you’re walking, it is then you can choose which way to go. The fun part comes, when you realize that can be ANY direction.  As a survivor of  a trauma you have been given the tools to write a new book.  I only advise to aim for that book to be on the best sellers list.