Tuesday, 17 April 2012

My Brain AVM Story: Living Post-Stroke - "The Little Ways"

I had a conversation recently with a woman who'd had to live one-handed for a while after a car accident (using her non-dominant hand, like I do), and who also lived with what she thought was a brain injury for quite some time (it turned out that her tendency to lose words or use the wrong word in a sentence was due to severe sleep apnea). It started me thinking about the little ways in which I've had to adjust my post-stroke life.

My Friends Tell Me I'm Just Getting Old, But...

Before the stroke, I didn't use a calendar or daybook. I didn't need them. I could keep track of my schedule and my appointments in my head. I could also remember phone numbers with without any difficulty.

Post-stroke, I can't do either, and accepting that I now need to write everything down has been difficult. It's interesting that while I'm generally accepting of how my abilities have changed post-stroke in just about every other sphere of my life, I sometimes "rebel" about the change in this one. I'll then have to call and ask when an appointment time is, or even miss an appointment, and the embarrassment puts me on track with writing things down again.

Living Post-Stroke with One Hand

I've talked elsewhere about how I do most of what I need to do post-stroke with one hand, without even thinking about it now. There are a couple of things that required some creativity to get around:

  • Putting on my bra. Maybe I'll demonstrate this (fully-clothed) on the You-Tube channel someday.

  • Wearing dress shoes. I generally wear Blundtstones boots, for ankle support, and I have to be careful with dress shoes because my left foot doesn't sit well in them and I'll walk right out of them. For my sister's wedding, we secured my left foot in my shoe with some dressmaker's elastic. I wear black ballet shoe-style slippers when I can get away with it.

  • Opening containers. I open often bags (like chip bags) with my right hand and my teeth, which is very undignified but effective. My medicines are in non-childproof containers to make them easier to open. I can open some jars, but sometimes I must ask for help.

I used to have a lot of trouble asking for help, and I still don't really like to, but I'm not embarrassed when I do. I've got a good sense now of when I'm wasting a lot of time and energy and just ultimately frustrating myself trying do something that someone with two hands could easily do in under a under a moment. Last night I asked my brother-in-law to cut my steak for me. I've also been known to walk out into the lounge in my building and ask someone to open a jar for me.

All in all, I'm living a very functional, pain-free post-stroke life, and I'm very, very grateful for that. Things could definitely be a lot worse.


  1. I am very glad that I have found your site....as strange as it seems to me I always new I am not the only one that others are having similar issues and frustrations! What amazes me is our determination to move forward to obtain as much of a normal life! Keep up your great work, and Thank-you!

  2. GirlWithTheCane18 April 2012 at 02:17

    Thank you for your comment, Sue246! Yes, there are a lot of people that can relate to these issues...finding them can be a bit of a trick sometimes, but the Internet is a great resource. I'm glad that you found your way here. :) - Sarah