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Replacing Losses with Accomplishments

By David Wasielewski

 

 

For quite some time following my stroke, just over seven years ago, describing the aftermath was all about the losses. I was hemiplegic essentially losing use of my left arm and hand as well as much of the use of my left leg. Fortunately I retained enough functionality to allow for limited walking with a cane.

 

I was no longer able to travel, an essential part of my business consulting career, my energy level decreased substantially, requiring frequent daily naps and limited endurance. My recreational activities disappeared as skiing and volleyball were no longer possible. I did however retain my ability to think clearly as all my mental faculties, surprisingly, remained intact.

 

I also did not lose an internal drive to ‘do something’ with my life. As I regained my ability to hobble around with a cane and got back to driving I was reminded that I didn’t spend all that time and effort in rehab regaining what I did so I could just sit around the house. If I was capable of doing something, anything, then folks around expected that I should be doing whatever it was that I was capable of doing.

 

It took me time to figure out what I was capable of doing. My speech therapist recognized an ability to empathize and communicate well with other stroke survivors. She got me into a peer counselor program I have described in past articles. An ability to read and concentrate led me to test myself at the local community college. A professor gave me the opportunity to be a presenter at a campus forum. Another suggested that I might do well managing a clinical research project at the local hospital since I did well in his classes.

 

So……. as time has progressed describing my stroke has become less and less about what has been lost and more and more about the new things I now have time to do. I’ve become a patient counselor, honors student in sociology and psychology, a clinical research manager, a community impact analyst at a local charity organization and a writer for an on-line stroke support group.

 

When I’m asked about how the stroke has affected me I used to recite a list of things I can no longer do. Over time the answer has become a little more involved as it has also given me the opportunity to find some of my hidden talents and further develop them, something that would not have happened if my life had continued on as it had before the stroke.

 

I guess there’s a point to this short article. For many of those younger folks new to the stroke survivor experience the losses that often headline your stroke narrative can slowly fade to be replaced with positive stories of what you have been able to accomplish since your stroke. Taking away what you once had might uncover any number of hidden talents you have been carrying around inside. Just give them time to develop.

 

 

 

Copyright April 2012

The Stroke Network, Inc.

P.O. Box 492 Abingdon, Maryland 21009

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