This is kind of a continuation of the series, It Was My Little Black Cloud. However, because any of my posts about my life as an adult is influenced by the disability, I’ll start moving away from the these challenges as a focal point and tell you about the actual events that have been so colorful.
Being physically and slightly mentally disabled at the ripe old age of eighteen is not fun. You can bank on it. Strokes are awful no matter what your age. It’s just that at eighteen, a person is just starting to experience things, were as when you’re older, you have some idea of what life is about. Believe it or not, anymore there are many young people who have had a stroke.
My physical challenges consisted (still do) of having the sensation of feeling everything through a thick wool sock on the right side of my body from my toes up to the top of my head. This meant that I was never sure where anything was on my body on that side. Was I moving my arm at all? I didn’t know until I actually looked at it. Is that pan on the stove hot? Maybe I should check to see were my arm and/or hand is. Oh my gosh! Yes, the pan is hot. I burned my hand — see the red burning flesh.
My slight mental disabilities were harder to deal with. Although the medical team said my emotions would settle down, I felt like I had a severe case of Bipolar Syndrome. Either I didn’t care what was happening and would get engrossed in sitcoms on TV or I’d be a bucket of continuous tears. Neighbors could hear me ranting about some of the most trivial stuff, and I do mean stuff as in not being worth anything.
My cognitive skills, which effected my ability to write had been severely damages. This is what bothered me the most. I couldn’t remember anything for more than about two minutes at first, at least nothing that I thought I should remember anyway. I couldn’t even remember how to write the word ‘was’. When my writing buddy reads this, I can assure you that she’ll be shocked because now I can’t seem to get away from the damn word when I write. I remember sitting with a pencil in my hand and a clean sheet of paper in from of me, crying because I was trying to remember how to spell this stupid word for over an hour. I couldn’t even look it up in the dictionary because I couldn’t figure out the letter it even started with.
Of course, there were other things I was forgetting too. I had forgotten all the telephone numbers that I used to know by heart. I forgot my friends’ names. I could get lost so easily in a store that I had been in dozens of times before. Getting lost to the point where you don’t even know if you’re in a city you’re familiar with and also in a store that looks foreign can be mighty scary.
At first, the only three places where I felt completely at ease were the living room, my bedroom, and the bathroom. Most of that year was a blurry in spite of the fact that I did take a quarter of college part-time. I took classes I loved in high school, or at least the closest thing to those classes. I couldn’t play the flute anymore seeing that nothing worked the way it should on the right side, so I took the History of Music class. I took the 101 creative writing class, which gave my brain a boost so that I could remember how to write words. And I took 101 typing. The instructor found a text book on typing with one hand. It was the most useful class I had.
I know disability is hard to live with no matter where you are in your struggle with it. The world looks so different from the perspectives I have available to me now as opposed to the ones I used to have before that night when everything changed. I’m sure the level of difference is the same for all others who face these challenges.
Do you have a story to tell me?