Doll

Doll / Wellcome Images

Doll / Wellcome Images

At my rehab hospital, therapists congratulated me on my pregnancy and immediately started getting me physically ready to carry a squirmy kid around.

They had me buy a life sized baby doll, which they promptly sliced open and filled with gym weights, so that my weak stroke side would get stronger. They put me on treadmills with the heavy doll. I became in better shape than I was before my pregnancy.

Similar stories?

News

Pregnant / Wellcome Images

Pregnant / Wellcome Images

Baby! My husband and I are very excited.

I assumed that because of my stroke history, pregnancy would be horrendous. But no. It has been fine.

The stroke/pregnant crowd is rather small.

Telephone

Telephone / Library of Congress

Telephone / Library of Congress

After my stroke, I was having trouble remembering ten-digit phone numbers  in my head, in the correct order. I came up with a solution: interrupting sweetly.

Mr. Normal is on the phone. He says, “….my number is 1234567890.”

I cut in before he can finish. Friendly, I deliberately start the number over.

“123,” I say.

Mr. Normal, “….456… pause…

“456,” I repeat, pleasantly.

Mr. Normal: “….7890.”

Parrot: “7890.”

“That’s right,” says Mr. Normal genially.

Works like a charm. Any other tricks?

Etiquette

Bow / Wellcome Images

Bow / Wellcome Images

Outside the rehab hospital, if I bump into another stroke patient I know, I say hello. Naturally. Trickier etiquette is how to comport yourself when you see a stroke stranger. I have an urge to run up to them: “I’m with you!” “I know your pain!” “Keep fighting!” which I squelch.

I once sat across from a stroke stranger on the Boston T (subway). He was older, had a cane as well as the hand that didn’t work. I could tell that he had noticed me. Suddenly, at the top of his lungs he yelled, “She has the same problem that I have!”

Passengers in the car turned to look at him, and then at me, curiously. Oh dear. I made a beatific smiled, but remained silent.

More unlucky than I.

Similar stories?

Sweets

Sweets / Library of Congress

Sweets / Library of Congress

After my stroke, my manners were slightly off. I was told to ask my friends what was different about me.

At an ice cream store with a friend, they were about to close and were giving away pastries. I went up to the counter and took one. When the clerk tried to engage me in small talk, I just walked away.

“See?” said my friend afterward. “You should have thanked him. And chatted a little. He was giving you a free pastry.”

Oh. Right.

Do you have etiquette stories?

Automobile

Car / Library of Congress

Car / Library of Congress

We got a new car. Our old one was tiny, speedy and cute. This new one is safe and boring. A bigger car takes some getting used to, especially parking on Boston’s crowded streets.

I needed to get the new car modified for a disabled driver. Last time it took over a month. This time it took a day. Progress!

Any disabled drivers out there? Good stories?

Anniversary

Wedding / Wellcome Images

Wedding / Wellcome Images

Our wedding anniversary is coming up.  The year just blew by. Whee!

Autumn

Autumn / Library of Congress

Autumn / Library of Congress

It’s that time of year when the leaves turn orange and gold. It is a bit nippy too. Usually I would be excited about the change of seasons but I’m not. The coming winter does not inspire.

Does your mood change with the seasons?

Bureaucracy

Books / Wellcome Images

Books / Wellcome Images

Right after my stroke, the health care bureaucracy was exhausting. You have to stay on top of it, or more letters will arrive. I don’t know how sick patients with no family support handle this bureaucracy. Now imagine having cognitive damage. One speech therapist I know, who makes house calls, says bills just pile up in some of the homes she visits.

Do you have bureaucracy stories to tell?

Positive

Positive / Library of Congress

Positive / Library of Congress

Do you plan to get everything you have lost back? Limbs? Speech? Your life? Are you positive?