When I saw my primary care doctor the Friday following my stroke, she told me I could expect significant improvement in as little as two weeks. I could not get her to promise me a full recovery, but she did say the prognosis was good, since we started treatment so soon after the event. She ordered an MRI for different pictures of my brain and suggested physical therapy to accelerate the recovery process.
That was Friday (November 4). My symptoms were very slightly worse that day than they were the day before. I drove to the office to get caught up on some work (I know, I know…) and found that, while pushing down on the accelerator was easy (gravity helped), lifting my foot was a different matter. I would grab my right leg with my hands to slow down, and brake with my left foot. (Disclaimer: I never claimed that I was not an idiot)
On Saturday, it seemed to me that my right side was working better; I still limped, but was able to raise my right arm above my head with less difficulty. I could use my right hand to brush my teeth, albeit very clumsily.
By Monday, I was brushing my teeth like a champ; I never knew such a mundane act could be so much fun. I brushed twice, just for the pleasure of it. Tuesday and Wednesday brought even more improvement. I took a chance and used my favorite (but dangerous) vintage razor, with very little bloodshed. My right leg was behaving, and driving was (and is) less of an
irresponsible act adventure.
I had the MRI last night. The technician offered me ear plugs before he slid me into the long chamber. I declined at first.
“Trust me,” he said. “You want these.” He was right. I have never heard so many variations on a jackhammer theme as those that came from that huge machine. I can’t wait the see the prints, and intend to buy three framed 8 x 10s and a dozen wallet size.
Although I am thrilled with my progress so far, the memory of feeling half my body refusing to obey simple commands is at the forefront of my mind. I rejoice in being able to type these words today; it was far more difficult a week ago. I am faithfully taking my medication every day and start physical therapy next week.
Even though this event was not the catastrophe it certainly could have been, I am grateful for my new awareness of the fragility of life. I have known people who have battled (and continue to battle) conditions far more serious than mine–conditions whose outcomes are far more uncertain. For some of these courageous people, treatment is not as simple as taking their medication.
I am indeed lucky.