Book Worth Reading: ‘Stronger After Stroke’

Although it turned out that I hadn’t had a stroke, I still found many things in this book that I could relate to, especially a chapter about finding a purpose in your life despite any disabilities you may have.

So the day after the story about my case was published as the “Medical Mystery” in The Washington Post, I was riding home after a long, exhausting day at Johns Hopkins outpatient rehabilitation therapy, I remembered the chapter from “Stronger After Stroke” by Peter G. Levine  on finding a new purpose in your life. I realized how many of us brain injury survivors are isolated in our homes, no longer able to live independently.

That day, I had met several other brain injury patients while waiting between appointments. Several of them were in their 20s, with injuries sustained in car accidents, who were still having issues and were isolated at home, while their friends were at college or work. I just came across  a Facebook group for the younger crowd Peter mentioned in a post on his blog. It’s called Young Stroke Survivors Global Network.

My brain injury didn’t happen until I was 59. It was a lot easier for me to accept at that age; I had already had a career, two beautiful sons, and even grandchildren.

I remembered the chapter from “Stronger After Stroke” on finding a new purpose in your life. I realized how many of us brain injury survivors are isolated in our homes, no longer able to live independently. But what if it had happened when I was 20? My life, as I knew it, would had been just getting started.

Thus the idea of a blog, eventually christened, seemed the best way to reach other brain injury survivors and their caregivers.

How has your life’s purpose changed since your injury or diagnosis? How are you coping? If you can offer any suggestions to aid in our recovery, or the well-being of our caregivers, please share them in the Comments section below. I would also be very grateful for any leads on hopeful or inspiring people’s stories I can share.

We may be limited in mobility, but we still have talents  and can make a difference to others who are struggling, be they survivors or caregivers.

This is my attempt to be of service to my new “tribe.”

I hope you will join me on this daily journey, as we trudge the road to happy destiny.

An attitude of gratitude

Each new day is an entry on my daily gratitude list.

When you click on the information on my diagnosis on the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) website, it reads, in part:

“In general, PML has a mortality rate of 30-50 percent in the first few months following diagnosis but depends on the severity of the underlying disease and treatment received. Those who survive PML can be left with severe neurological disabilities.”

When I was living through those first few months after my diagnosis and read that, I cried my eyes out. Since then, I have had three “stable” yearly MRIs, which means that each and every day, I continue to beat those odds. I’ve also welcomed two new “grandwonders,” as I like to call them.

So, every morning, before I get out of bed, I write down five things I’m grateful for.

The most common entry, as you may expect, are my sons and their families, pictured above during Christmas 2016.

Another entry is usually a book or something I’ve read that has given me insight or motivation.

Here are several of my favorites:

You Don’t Look Sick!  Living Well with Invisible Chronic Illness by Joy H. Selak & Steven S. Overman, M.D.

The Brain’s Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity by Nathan Doidge, M.D.

Stronger After Stroke: Your Roadmap to Recovery  by Peter G. Levine.

The Ghost in My Brain: How a Concussion Stole My Life and How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Helped Me Get it Back  by Clark Elliott, (Note to survivors: I suggest skipping to Part 3 where he starts talking about the solution. Parts I & II focus more on his post-concussion problems)

And, my caregiver is always near the top of my list. Caregivers, you are angels with skin, in my humble opinion (IMHO).

What are you grateful for? What tools help you stay positive? Please share your ideas and suggestions below. We’re all in this together and I know I need all the support I can get.