Posts Tagged ‘emotional trauma’

On My Own

September 24, 2014

“We’ve done all we can. It’s up to you from now on.”

I reached a point in my recovery where I was released from therapy, either due to completion or insurance coverage limits. Kind of like stepping off the end of a gangplank, unsure of where I might land in the World of Normal. But I cautiously took that step, and rarely looked back. It really was up to me now, with assistance and encouragement from my family and friends.

A roller coaster ride at first, my life eventually leveled out. I continued physical therapy at home, with the aid of a guidebook provided by my therapists, a TENS unit to stimulate the muscles in my affected leg and foot, an AFO for support, a blood pressure monitor, and a diabetic blood test kit.

It was a huge struggle just to get out of bed every morning, much less do the prescribed exercises. I became lightheaded and passed out frequently. I was lost, anxious, and had frequent panic attacks.

I would not have progressed this far without my family. They were my lifeline (literally), my coaches, my critics, my cheerleaders.

But, ultimately, they could only do so much in my journey to recovery. It was up to me to get myself motivated, even through the cloud of frustration, depression and grief.

Through it all I relied on my belief in God and the power of prayer. I was told that while in the hospital ICU, I was administered Last Rites. I was that close.

I remember absolutely nothing of that first week of my hospital stay. My wife never left my side. She was my guardian, my protector, my intermediary with the doctors and hospital staff. My earthly angel.

When I recovered enough to move out of ICU, my therapy began. Simple stuff, like learning how to eat, swallow, walk and talk. Things I used to do without thinking. I was too weak to be embarrassed or regretful. I felt like a human pincushion, when I felt anything at all. Then came awareness, like the world was opening up to me. Sort of like being born again.

It is very difficult to describe the stroke and recovery experience to someone in terms they can understand, especially when I still don’t completely understand it myself.

So, my journey continues, on my own. My advice to those on a similar path? Stay focused. Be patient with yourself. Do everything you possibly can, learn from your mistakes and how to graciously ask for assistance. Adapt what you cannot fully get back; be inventive. Recovery can be a life-long journey, never give up. Believe in yourself, even when no one else does. Celebrate your victories, no matter how small. And most of all, have faith in what you can accomplish when you set your mind to it. Love your family, even when they don’t seem to love you back.

And remember, you are never truly alone on your path to recovery. There is always Someone looking over your shoulder. Rely on that Higher Power.

Slow and steady wins the race.

More information on therapy and rehabilitation after stroke.

We’re Here for Each Other

March 28, 2014

Recovery from any injury takes time. Time spent in reflection. Could I have done anything to make the outcome of my trauma any different, or to prevent it? What will become of me, and my relationships? How will I cope with my new reality? So many unanswered questions. Life is complicated enough without additional baggage.

Specialists in psychology call it grieving. Perfectly natural emotion. Grief expressed at the loss of part of you that cannot be gotten back. Everyone grieves at some point in time. How we react to it can make all the difference in the world. Most of us need some help in dealing successfully with grief.

Professional counseling is recommended to many who survived physical or emotional trauma. Most are helped by this, though some are not. They feel lost and alone. Abandoned. Trivialized.

Many require medication to overcome temporary mental issues such as depression, a common problem faced by survivors of trauma. Hopefully with additional counseling they can be weaned off anti-depressants over time. Some find solace among those who share common problems, as in support groups, meeting either in-person or online.

Support groups provide positive conversation in mutual life experience – understanding, sympathy, empathy, encouragement, information, advice, humor, and an occasional admonishment when you lose focus.

Bottom line: you don’t have to be alone, if you really don’t want to. Someone will be there for you. A family member, friend, co-worker, counselor, clergyperson, or fellow survivor will help sort out your frustrations and get on with your life.

No man is an island. We’re here for each other.