Stroke and Schicksal

The blurred a patch of the windscreen persisted even I moved my head. Silently I cursed the health centre car; why didn’t they clean the windows properly? I sat in a comfortable parlour with an old fashioned mantlepiece clock, 10:15, doing a home visit.

Assessment done, Issues discussed, began to write up the home exercise program. I derailed. My speech garbled and I lost the ability to write words. I looked at the clock,relieved that I could still read the time, 11:05.


Looking at the page, bvgr, my words didn’t make sense. Try as I might, I couldn’t find the letters to correct the garbled sentences. 11:12: it passed. I completed my day and went home feeling tired and slightly headachey. My husband insisted I see the doctor.

My GP suggested a CT brain. I wasn’t keen, migraine the working diagnosis; TIA at worst.

Nervously I awaited the result. Stroke. 53…normal blood pressure…reasonable cholesterol..normal body weight…Stroke. The words only confirmed my suspicions, simple tasks required much more concentration than before. Cognitively I had lost some gloss. My lightning mind faltered.

So I made a decision.

I would resign, take six months off and reassess my priorities. My employer allowed me to take leave without pay, my physiotherapy career now on the back burner. I wrote, finishing Schicksal, adding 37000 words to the manuscript.

For six weeks I pushed my broken brain, forcing it to integrate information and then one day, I felt I’d stepped back into being me. But something had changed, my passion for my career waned and words began to fill my headspace.

Sentences and stories came easily. I listened to people talk, a word thief, exploring new turns of phrase. I wrote daily gently assuming a new role. My parent’s memoir, Schicksal, proved to be the perfect vehicle. I loved them, knew the story and felt passionate about my message. It didn’t feel like work.

Last Saturday Night my husband and I watched, ‘My Beautiful Broken Brain.’ Lotje’s story reminded me of my experience but more importantly reaffirmed my belief in the ability of the body to heal. Fortunately, my last position as a therapist gave me the opportunity to meet and help other stroke survivors discover the wonder of their plastic brains.

Hopefully they too will discover a new passion, born through Stroke.

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