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My ABI and I: Insomnia; wide awake.

February 4, 2018

 

Surviving Stroke: In the tunnel

I always start my story with " I went to sleep as LeaAnn and woke up a total stranger.

On September 2014 Labor day, I suffered a bleeding stroke and a acute subdura hetome, brain anyurism which led to brain surgery to relieve the pressure. This was caused by a blood disease I caught in my mechanical heart valves after some routine dental surgery. The doctors told my family that if I survived, I would never be the same. After 3 months of learning how to walk, talk, chew, swallow, read and write all over again, kidney failure Due to the antibiotics I was on for the blood disease, the doctors were right about one thing. I will never be the same.

There is always a light at the tunnel. This blog is for any stroke or brain injury survivor who is in that tunnel right now. Every brain injury is different, no two are the same. Everyone's story is different. Not everyone gets stuck in the tunnel, fortunately. But if your at the part where your friends have walked away, your family has turned their backs, you have had to relearn everything and you have lost your identity, your not alone. I'm right ahead of you, where I am beginning to see the light.

For many stroke and brain injury survivors, stroke recovery is a very dark place. We are hurting, shocked to find we are no longer ourselves, we no longer enjoy the things we used to, many of us cant drive or work. Brain injury has even stolen our dreams. Many of us come home expecting everything to be the same, that everyone will be so happy to see you home, and they will support you and live happily ever after. Its a shock to be met with cold awkwardness, your friends are no where to be found, and your family has turned their backs. Many of you may be feeling like everything has been taken from you, and your world has been turned upside down. And now your stuck in a dumb tunnel!

My first year was such a nightmare. I remember sitting in my bathroom feeling like an alien had taken over my life and my family. At that moment felt loneliest and emtiest I have ever felt. My family refused to educate themselves on stroke, I was always the strong one the family, and I think watching their mom, big sister struggling to tie her shoes when mom or big sister used tie them must be to much to handle. Denying that anything is wrong with us makes it go away for them, while we live, breathe, and eat all of the negativity survivors are surrounded with. I sat on that cold floor thinking that that I had completely lost mind this time. This stroke had taken my family, my dignity, my independence, my family said it was all in my head and had even stolen my dreams.

I always start my story with " I went to sleep as LeaAnn and woke up a total stranger.

On September 2014 Labor day, I suffered a bleeding stroke and a acute subdura hetome, brain anyurism which led to brain surgery to relieve the pressure. This was caused by a blood disease I caught in my mechanical heart valves after some routine dental surgery. The doctors told my family that if I survived, I would never be the same. After 3 months of learning how to walk, talk, chew, swallow, read and write all over again, kidney failure Due to the antibiotics I was on for the blood disease, the doctors were right about one thing. I will never be the same.

There is always a light at the tunnel. This blog is for any stroke or brain injury survivor who is in that tunnel right now. Every brain injury is different, no two are the same. Everyone's story is different. Not everyone gets stuck in the tunnel, fortunately. But if your at the part where your friends have walked away, your family has turned their backs, you have had to relearn everything and you have lost your identity, your not alone. I'm right ahead of you, where I am beginning to see the light.

For many stroke and brain injury survivors, stroke recovery is a very dark place. We are hurting, shocked to find we are no longer ourselves, we no longer enjoy the things we used to, many of us cant drive or work. Brain injury has even stolen our dreams. Many of us come home expecting everything to be the same, that everyone will be so happy to see you home, and they will support you and live happily ever after. Its a shock to be met with cold awkwardness, your friends are no where to be found, and your family has turned their backs. Many of you may be feeling like everything has been taken from you, and your world has been turned upside down. And now your stuck in a dumb tunnel!

My first year was such a nightmare. I remember sitting in my bathroom feeling like an alien had taken over my life and my family. At that moment felt loneliest and emtiest I have ever felt. My family refused to educate themselves on stroke, I was always the strong one the family, and I think watching their mom, big sister struggling to tie her shoes when mom or big sister used tie them must be to much to handle. Denying that anything is wrong with us makes it go away for them, while we live, breathe, and eat all of the negativity survivors are surrounded with. I sat on that cold floor thinking that that I had completely lost mind this time. This stroke had taken my family, my dignity, my independence, my family said it was all in my head and had even stolen my dreams.

It was around that time, when I had almost given up, right about where you are now.. When I started to see a glimmer of light, Facebook support groups, my husband and a few family members watched an amazing documentary called " my beautiful broken brain". I highly recommend it to families, caregivers and survivors. It helped at least show them some of what I was going through. It didn't solve everything, but it did open their eyes a little.

The best way to get through this tunnel is laughter. I know.. You have lost all your friends, you are lonely, your head hurts all the time, and you feel all alone in a crowded room. The very last thing you feel like doing is laugh, but I promise it will get you a little closer to the light. The best way to get around this part of the tunnel, is by laughing. Laugh at yourself when you forget a name, or put your clothes on backwards. I used to sit on the floor instead of my chair all the time, my butt was permanently bruised for months!

I know you don't want to hear this.. But a positive attitude does help. I'm not saying you have to be positive all the time. Impossible. But if I have a choice to make a bad situation like getting lost in the grocery store because you forgot where and who you are worse by being negative and getting angry, or you can laugh at yourself and look at it as positively as possible. I will admit that I have struggled with this, I have been pretty angry, and it's so easy to slide into self pity, rightfully so after all you have been through, many of you with no support. But if I remember to count my blessings every morning, I see a little more light peeking in.

Keep going. You are not in that tunnel alone, I'm right behind you with many other survivors feeling exactly the way you are right now. Keep going, prove those who say you can't it wrong. Survivors, you are not lazy, your not using it as an excuse, and your not crazy, your a survivor. Happy digging!

 

 

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