That First Year After

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.


That First Year After
Image provided by
Parker Knight @

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?


17 thoughts on “That First Year After

  1. Strong and real words about a devastating time. I can’t even begin to image what it was like; I don’t know your whole story, but you have my deepest respect for how you worked through it.

    You ask, “Do you have a story to tell me?”

    I had an elective hip surgery four years ago that didn’t give the results we’d hoped for, and have had two surgeries since then to try to correct the problems that came from that surgery. They helped, but there’s no way to totally fix it. For the rest of my life I’ll have to use a crutch — usually just one, and the imbalance has affected my lower back and, since I have to use that crutch, my arm. Hiking the mountain trails near our house … just walking around town yesterday … carrying wet laundry to be hung … carrying food to the table … just taking photographs when out and about! … practicing my flute … everything about life is physically affected. That reality has begun to eat away at my emotions lately, and I have to take a few minutes to wallow. I’m only 55 years old, dammit!

    But I know so many have it so much worse than me, and I had 50 years of relative physical health. Reading a little of your experience and emotions helps to put **life** in perspective.

    (The image you chose is powerful.)


    1. Glynis Jolly

      I think I know exactly where you’re coming from. I didn’t talk about the imbalance I have 24/7. I just didn’t think about that when I was writing this post. I might have to do some editing. Having the crutch deprives you of one arm and hand. I can see how you might be able to take photos and still use the crutch although it means positioning yourself before positioning the camera. The wet laundry, hanging it up, preparing food, and, of course, playing the flute I don’t see how it can be done standing up for you. You need an elegant straight-back chair to sit in when you play your flute. That way you, in the chair, will look as beautiful as your skill and passion heard while you play your flute.


      1. Our stories are always a little more complicated than can easily be shared in brief “comments conversations,” aren’t they?

        At the risk of this becoming a depressing recital of health issues (which isn’t how either of us approach life, is it?), I’ll continue our conversation …

        Although I usually only use one in the house, when out walking I need two crutches. I’ll see a “photo op” moment, stop, lean the crutches against something, reach for my camera, grab the crutches because the darn things fall 90% of the time, anchor them better, focus the camera, take several shots, put it away and start to walk again … and discover a different angle that just begs for another series of shots. So I start the process over again. (I type all this with a smile on my face. If we can’t laugh, where will we end up?)

        Although I had good health all my life, I did have lower back issues (which precipitated that first surgery) … sitting to play the flute has always been painful. So standing to practice and perform is what is best for my overall breathing and freedom of musical expression; I found my music niche in teaching and needed to walk freely around my students to critique their posture and breathing. But I also loved to share music through informal recitals of my own. During a recital I need to walk around, move when playing, approach the audience with conversation …. all things that are hampered with a chair.

        Do your balance issues continue today?


        1. Glynis Jolly

          Your problems are worse than I originally thought, Cindi. I don’t see how you can even attempt to play the flute while moving around. I certainly understand about the better posture while standing. The private flute teacher I had when I was in high school had all of her pupils standing while they played. Mr Gary from my 1st years of playing the flute had me just sitting in a straight-back chair. The difference was probably that Mr. Gary’s preferred instrument was the violin. Now then, how in the world do you accomplish playing and walking at the same time?

          As for the photo taking jaunts, they sound painstakingly slow. I’m not a patient person by nature. I’ve been forced into the attitude by my circumstances. Being out in public and having to go through all those steps would drive my looney.

          As for my balance — yes, it’s still way off, although on most days I can walk inside my own home without my 4-prong cane. I’m pretty sure I can do this because I’m comfortable in my own home (the psychological end of the problem) and I never have to walk more than 4 steps before I can reach for something to help me balance if necessary. Outside or in someone else’s home, I always use the cane.

          Is there any possibility that your balance will get better?


  2. Wow, Glynis, to be subjected to something so challenging at such a young age. Especially when at 18 you’ve got more than enough regular challenges to battle. Your perseverance is hugely admirable. And I’m really glad you have the ability to use your blog as way to make more sense of it.
    Thanks for sharing. Cheers


    1. Glynis Jolly

      Thank you for the beautiful compliment. I think most people would do at least as much as I have done since the stroke, if for no other reason, to just keep from being bored. 😛


  3. What a difficult beginning for a young woman of 18 to face, Glynis. You have been remarkable in your progress. Did anyone ever figure out the why? Not that it matters afterwards because it knowing couldn’t change anything, or could it have?


    1. Glynis Jolly

      Why did it happen? —

      I’m still a mystery patient to doctors. If you’re religious, you may want to ponder on the idea that I might have something I need to do, and the disability has something to do with it.

      My thoughts on why — Life is both yin and yang. Although at first glance it may look like I have had too much yang already, I’ve have some fantastic yin that surpasses the yang. As I go through the years of my life after this dramatic episode within this blog, I think you’ll see what I mean. 😉


  4. I’m so blown away. You have referenced living with disability since I first started reading your posts, but I had no idea the degree of challenges you have fought and overcome. Your writing is so gorgeous that I am literally amazed that it ever faltered.

    The physical challenges on their own would be so overwhelming, but I think the mental ones would be devastating, to have them both, well that’s unbelievable. You must have an incredible will, but then I should not be surprised. Not long after I met you, you lost a blog. I was so upset for you and yet you seemed to shrug and simply move on to your next blog, this one. Your attitude was clearly the stronger and smarter one.


    1. Glynis Jolly

      Debra, you flatter me too much. People aren’t aware of what they are capable of doing until they’re forced into the situation where they have no other choice but to try. I think the human population underestimates their perseverance and determination.


  5. Your first line is so powerful. Going through all that at such a young age has shaped you in so many ways. I’d like to think I’m resilient, but in a different way because I survived being raised by a mother who was hospitalized countless times for severe bipolar disorder. Such situations certainly make people take a good hard look at themselves and everything around them.


    1. Glynis Jolly

      I was blessed with a overly7 capable mother. She had always pushed me to be more that what I was at the particular moment. She kept on doing it after the stroke. In fact, to this day at the age of 87, she’s still pushing me. This isn’t to say that she was mean because she wasn’t. She just won’t settle for mediocre.

      Bipolar Disorder is a hard condition to life with. And from what I’ve seen, it’s harder on the loved ones that the person who has it, yet they do suffer greatly. There’s so many questions I’d like to ask you about this but this isn’t the time or place for it. Also, the subject may be too delicate for you to share with someone you’ve never seen. My heart goes out to you. ❤


  6. I haven’t kept much of my life off my blog, so I don’t have a story to tell, I tell it every day. What I understand from your writing, is that you aren’t your disabilities. They may have impacted who you are today, but you don’t seem to define yourself as having any difficulties. You are an inspiration. Thanks.


    1. Glynis Jolly

      April, I love what you write! “you aren’t your disabilities. They may have impacted who you are today”

      Some people who have these challenges say the disability isn’t WHO they are. I disagree. The disability does have an affect on who you are. It is part of the shaping of who you are. However, it is not the basic person.


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