Sunday, October 30, 2011


Halloween. It is one of my favorite holidays. I went out to dinner with my girlfriends as we did every year on All Hallows. Beforehand, I bbmed away discussing how I felt and what didn't feel right. I spelled things wrong and even joked about having a slow stroke. Against advice from everyone, I still went out. I dressed up as Johnnie Walker Blue. I was particularly excited by my costume this year and wasn't going to let me feeling sick deter me from showing off my top hat, sash and cane.

My friend and I stopped at a bar before dinner where I ordered a Guinness. As an old Irish doctor once told me, Guinness cures everything. I sat and sipped about a quarter of the glass and felt as miserable as I did when I came in. Aspirin, clove, beer, did not help. Nothing tasted right at dinner. Even one of my favorite dishes, veggie moo shoo did nothing more to me than licking a metal pipe would. As I stared at the ghouls in the street at the parade, I started to feel faint and excused myself. I got home, quickly got undressed and went to sleep.

I woke up in the middle of the night to drunken costumed New Yorkers laughing wishing that I was one of them. I had a searing pain in my neck and mouth. I called the emergency Doctor's line and was assured that I wasn't in danger and to just make an appointment with my Primary Care Physician for that week. I went back to sleep. I kept waking up every hour on the hour. Nothing helped my neck pain. My headache got worse. I sat in my living room, scared and watched infomercials in the dark. I thought it was indigestion and looked up solutions online. I ate an apple and tried to sleep again.

It's still hard to believe this happened to me but the details of that day are still fresh in my mind. I can hear the voices. I can taste that feeling in my mouth. I have to admit, today, I am a little scared but also very grateful. Still I play over the days at the hospital, grasping at every memory, every instance. I try to visualize my ICU room, the exact location on my right hand where the IV was, the sound of the heart monitor attached to my left pointer finger. I don't want to forget. I shouldn't forget.

I had a stroke at 29 and I survived. It happened a year ago and I'm trying so hard to smile right now but all I can do is sit here and reflect about how far I've come. Even typing this now, I find myself becoming very emotional. I am lucky. I am VERY lucky....

Thank you for reading. Thank you for caring. You know who you are. I am forever grateful.

For pushing me to go to the doctor,
For taking me to get my blood checked,
For being concerned,
For telling me I was strong,
For encouraging me to go on,
For believing in me,
For bringing me flowers,
For calling,
For hugs,
For making me laugh,
For being my friend,
For everything,

Thank you. I am here because of you.


Didn't feel like myself. Went to work in a hat without my hair combed and a black sweater, that is clearly imprinted in my mind. My head hurt. Someone from work came by and asked for some items. I said I wasn't feeling well. She left. I ran to the bathroom and threw up. I went back to my desk, packed my things up and left. I threw up again at security, I'm sure the guard appreciated that all went in the garbage can. Went straight to sleep once I got home.

Nothing tasted right. My mom brought me one of my favorite dishes from a local restaurant to get me to eat. It tasted like metal. I went back to sleep. Something was definitely wrong but I didn't call the doctor. I waited.

Lesson Learned
Calling the doctor can't ever hurt. Waiting can.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Someone Who Came To Mind

Dory, Disney's first character who
clearly has a brain injury.
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming
Where was I going?
There, there, it's alright, it will be ok.
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.
Who are you?
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.

My poor little short term memory'd fish, you make what sometimes happens to me a little funny. Thanks for making me smile and encouraging me to keep swimming.


Grateful I can still
run my fingers through my hair.
I lifted many boxes at work. I felt a crick in my neck and chalked it up to pulling a muscle. Since I was so busy in the past weeks, I decided to get my hair done and meet up with some friends after work. Hair dyed and blown out, I felt great. Renewed and refreshed. Neck still hurt but I was pre-occupied with the feeling of having commercial worthy locks.

Lesson Learned
Don't wait until you're in dire straights to beautify yourself a little. Even doing something for yourself as small as a blowout will make you feel better. There's only one you, why not have it be your best you! I'm doing things to beautify my outer as well as my inner. Even slapping a coat of polish onto my nails myself helps me after a long day.

Small victories.

Friday, October 28, 2011


Migraines migraines everywhere.

Lesson Learned
Stay home when afflicted with them. Don't try and do things. You'll lose. The key to getting rid of a migraine is sleeping, avoiding light and sometimes, lavender. Lavender calms the little monsters kicking your hemispheres.

If that fails, call your doctor, don't wait. If what he/she is saying doesn't work for you, get a second opinion. Health is not something to play with.

Small victories.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sure, Get That Botox!

So I was just thinking about strokies who have been left with weakened or stiffened limbs and muscles and wondered what else would help them besides physical therapy. My friends and I always joke about needing botox now that we've entered out 30s and how we look like we're in our 90s. As a joke, I was going to put together this whole spiel about botox and came across an article about the wrinkle smoother and stroke victims. Apparently botox Type A is usd for helping strokies with their atrophied limbs. It allegedly helps improve patient's mobility helps muscles relax. Wow! That is awesome!

It is NOT approved by the Food and Drug Administration for this use but it is so widely accepted that Medicare and other insurers are reimbursing patients for its use. I'm not sure what doctors practice this but apparently this isn't news. I'm finding articles on botox and stroke from 2002! All the articles seem positive regarding treatment for spasticity due to stroke.

Mm, kind of makes my day.


I actually don't remember this day last year. I've been wracking my brain trying to figure out what I was doing and I can't remember. I started to get frustrated but honestly, can many of you remember where you were this day last year? I guess I shouldn't beat myself up too badly about it.

Lesson Learned
Sometimes the things we can't remember are better left in the past. Maybe there's a reason it left our minds. Maybe some things are better left to quietly fade away.

Small victories.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Grateful I can still hold 
a crochet needle in my right hand.
This day last year I was at work talking to several different family members and friends. I remember that vividly. Work became more stressful as I'm experiencing now. October is very busy here. I was definitely stressed. I remember getting about 8-10 boxes of work stuff and just thinking that I needed a break and couldn't do it anymore. Maybe the one thing I did positively that day was pause and say, I'm not unpacking these boxes, I'm going to wait, I need to breathe.

Something I picked up while I was stressed at work was crocheting. I was a wiz at it in college and made the occasional blanket and scarf here and there. I started to keep a ball of yarn and needle by my desk and even though I didn't have much time during my breaks, I would do one or two stitches. Doing something as small as that was a comfort to me and even looking at the bag helped me.

Lesson Learned
Remember to take time to talk to your friends. Pick up the phone. Texts cannot compare to the sound of a person's voice.
Crocheting-not just for nerds and grannies

Small Victories.

Monday, October 24, 2011


I'm going to post every day this week following up to the day when I think I had the stroke. I keep trying to play through my head exactly what happened the week before or week of my stroke. Chopra tells us to try and picture where we were a year prior and what has changed what has remained the same. I have mentioned this before and I love doing it because it really helps me move forward and continue to change and evolve into a more aware person.

Grateful I can still walk across a bridge.
Last year around this time, I know I was worried about work and overwhelmed with everything going on in my life. It was the weekend so I know I was pretty active in helping folks down the stairs on the train with strollers, something I can sadly not do anymore. Why I decided to do it, I don't know! Anyway, I was pretty down about being so busy and was rushing nonstop from job, to writing, to socializing and not getting enough sleep.

Lesson Learned
This year I am not letting work run my life. I'm taking time to breathe. I am learning to say no. I am taking better care of myself. I sleep more, which makes my dog happy.
I'm grateful for being able to type without error.

Small victories.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Creative Sonic Boom?

I recently read an article in the LA Times about people who have creative surges after suffering brain damage. We've all heard of art therapy. I wonder if it has something to do with that. Sometimes when you lose one thing, such as speech, you gain another, like creativity.  Maybe it was something dormant that was only awakened by an extreme of brain damage....who knows?

The brain is such a complicated piece of work that scientists are still trying to figure it out. I remember after I had my stroke, I couldn't stop writing and know, once I was able to type properly again :). How fascinating to know that if I hadn't had the stroke, I may not have been able to complete a screenplay or finish my full length play.

"There are virtually no situations where brain damage makes things better," says Anjan Chatterjee, a neurologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, who is working on a book about art and the brain. But art is, he adds, one of the few complex aspects of human cognition that doesn't necessarily get worse.
-LA Times by Emily Sohn 5.20.11

The brain...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Quarter Owl

Oh and for those of you wondering how much was in Mr. Owl...he had $80 in quarters stuffed inside him.
Small victories.

New Practices for the Recently Ill

Try something new. It could be something you were afraid of before or something you've always wanted to do.
Remember that you almost couldn't because you nearly had that ability taken away from you.

Wear the high heels because you can still walk.
Eat the sushi because you aren't on blood thinners.
Rock the red lipstick because you still have mobility in your right hand.
Give thanks every day.
It was almost taken away from you,
But now you're strong,
You survived,
You're alive!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Blood Clot Of Wisdom from Jill Bolte Taylor

I've been given twelve years I almost didn't have, says Bolte Taylor. To me, that is precious, sacred time. I wake up every morning, wiggle my toes and my fingers, and say to them, 'Good morning, girls; thanks for another great day.'
-Jill Bolte Taylor from the book My Stroke of Insight

So beautiful and true. Every night, I give thanks for being able to live another day just like that.

Small victories

Hello Old Friend

A little before I had my stroke, I started collecting quarters and putting my separate change in a tin at the bottom of the kitchen pantry. I wasn't saving up for anything in particular, just putting my change away for a rainy day....or a trip to the casino :) The tin in the back of the pantry was from some cookies I had bought in elementary school. As soon as the cookies were done, I started to put change in it. I'm not sure why, but that's what I have been doing for 20 years. Every time it fills up, I wrap it and take it to the bank to my savings or cash it and buy nail polish or something small just for me. I figured quarters should have their own special home at this point so I bought a ceramic owl to house my 25 cents.

My quarter owl became kind of a bribery tactic for my Mother to get me to take my Lovenox. If I shot myself up on the first try, I got a dollar in quarters, second try, 50 cents and so on. Shooting myself in the stomach with the drug was never something I was comfortable with doing and it often ended with me in tears and having to have a pep talk with my stomach and said needle for 5 minutes in order to take the medicine. After I finished my five days of Lovenox, I started to just add quarters to the owl everyday. This came from change after I got a morning bagel when I would go to get my blood checked or after I would go for my block walk to the bakery. The quarter owl slowly filled up and got heavier and heavier but I didn't empty it.

Last night, I decided to empty the owl, who doesn't have a name. He needs a name btw. Any suggestions? I wrapped all my quarters last night laughing to myself. I'm going to start filling him up again but it won't feel like the first time. Can anyone guess how much came out of him? When I told my mother, she couldn't believe it! I almost can't bring myself to cash it. I'm connected to these quarters. Never thought that would come out of my mouth...