By Dayana Moreno, patient at Stroke Therapy Revolution.
- 1. THE LONG ROAD IS THE SHORT ROAD
To open your eyes and not being able to move half side of your body, is something devastating and incomprehensible, from a moment to the next your life is surrounded by doctors and health professionals telling you what you have to do with your body and the more you try you cannot reach full understanding and what in hell is going to happen to you. The physiotherapists with their laudable intentions quickly teach you how to get up and walk, since you need to recover your autonomy, as soon as possible. Although, this is not the best decision and much less the most useful. I did not know this but a long time after my CVA, when the damage was already done.
I began to walk, a month after my stroke, and the physiotherapist at that time, congratulated me because in a month I had achieved what others patients take six or more months, achieving, nevertheless, in that fast walking, was that my problems began, since our body has its own rhythms and the wisest thing to do is to learn to respect them. The long road is the short cut because it takes much time to let the body rest all it needs and takes a lot of time to assimilate the changes that are taking place in your life, but that is how it is, there are no shortcuts, that is why nobody puts a baby to walk when he is a month old, no, the people wait for the baby sits alone and later begins to crawl…
- 2. THE MORE YOU FALL THE FASTEST YOU LEARN TO GET UP.
I very well know, that one of our biggest fears is to fall down, and with justified reason, since we do not have the flexible body of a child and any foolish fall can mean a bone fracture, however, it is more important to learn how to fall than how not to fall, since our body just when we were children learns from trial and error.
I have fallen many times, and those falls were the ones that taught me, how to get up from the floor, what to grab, how to discharge my weight when I am falling, so when I eventually fall, be able to get up alone, or in the case ask for help. The idea is that our courage to get up be greater than our fear to fall down.
- 3. THE EAGERNESS AND THE IMPAINTENCE ARE OUR WORST ENEMIES.
If you had the unfortunate luck of staying hemiplegic after your CVA, you know how difficult becomes to live in a world where before you used two hands to do everything and now you only use one. What I am trying to say, is that not always not being able to do something with two hands, means that it cannot be done. Most of the times, it can be done with only one hand but it takes triple time than doing it with two hands. What happens is that our brain has recorded in its memory, times and determined manners of doing things, and when faced to a situation where those times cannot be achieved or in a determined manner simply goes into “shock”, and the first thing that goes to your head is that something cannot be done with only one hand, but it a false appreciation, because it can be done, but in other times or other manners.
That is why the eagerness and the impatience become enemies because when they get close cause havoc in us: since doing something with one hand causes enough stress imagine doing that but with less time, I want to remind you that sweating cold is enough.
- 4. YOUR OWN BODY IS YOUR BEST AND WISEST COUNSELOR
The human body is something so incredibly marvelous, and sometimes so completely unknown to us. But that it is unknown to us, does not mean that it stops doing its functions, it works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and it has its own means of communicating with us, but the majority of the time we are distracted with our daily life, that we simply do not listen to it.
I perfectly know what it feels, feeling nothing, or what you feel when you confuse warm water with hot water, or confuse cold water with ice, or what you feel when feeling a constant prickling in a leg, or what you feel when feeling pain stiffness in the shoulder, when you try to get away from the torso, or what it feels when you feel rubber elastics in your hemiparesic body. All those sensations have a reason to be and I cannot explain each one in this article, so the best that I can tell you, is that without a doubt, you need to take the time to listen to your body, and to learn the changes that your body has gone through.
- 5. THE SPASTICITY LIKES THE CALM AND THE CARESSESS
If you coexist with spasticity, you very well now, what it means to place more force when trying to move a limb, and you also know that the force only works but with a spring type effect, that is to say, more force more movement on the opposite sense where you are placing the force. Now, if you try to make a movement – you are going to find the pleasant surprise that your arm moves better. We never get anything getting mad at the limbs with spasticity it is better to treat them sweetly, with comprehension, a much caresses.
- 6. THE WORDS HAVE POWER AND YOUR BODY IS NOT UNCONNECTED TO THAT
You answer when your name is called, because you identify with it, since you were a child you answer when they want to talk to you, but what happens if instead of your name, someone calls you “idiot” or “stupid”, surely you are going to feel bad because these two words have an insult connotation, and obviously are negative; but what happens if somebody instead of your name, calls you “sweetie” or “sweetness”, you are surely going to feel better, since these two words have a positive connotation. Now, I want you to think that the same happens to your body, when you refer to your affected side as the “sick side” or your “bad side”, with time it will begin to behave as such.
I have heard cases of people calling the affected side the “dead side”; to me this is simply horrifying. I believe that if you do not know how to refer to your affected side, you can call it according to the side that corresponds, the left or the right side, it is not necessary to add any negative adjectives, or you can do the same that I do, I call it the “new side” and the side that was not affected by the STROKE, I call it the “old side”. I call it new because when I had the hemorrhage, I had an injury in the brain, not in my arms or legs´ muscles, they are completely healthy, only that now, they do not know how to move. It is like when you buy a new computer or a cell phone, you have to learn the rules to handle it, and the same happens with your new side, you have to learn the rules of its functioning. Your old side is like a used computer and you know how to perfectly handle it, but sometimes it is also full of viruses.
- 7. THE REEDUCATION OF YOUR BODY IS A LONG PROCESS.
I remember that in one of those so many days that I was at the hospital, the neurologist told me:
– Since you are young, possibly in a year you are going to be walking.
I baffled only answered: “a year?”, to me it was a huge quantity of time, since I wrongly believed that my problem was a matter of weeks, now three years later, I have the complete certainty that to walk again in the most likely possible way, as before my CVA, many more years are needed and to move my hand well, I need even more years. Nevertheless, at this moment I learned that the important thing is not the time we take, but rather the quality of life, that we have while that time goes by. Only God knows why he put us through this test, but it is up to our free will to choose what to do with our life now in this new body. I like to call the rehabilitation, “reeducation” since I think it is a more precise word, to what really describes what happens to our body, since we are learning to move a hemiplegic side or a hemiparesic one, and the education takes a lot of time.
- 8. THE DISCAPACITY IS BUILT IN SOCIETY, BUT FIRST IN YOUR MIND.
The United Nations, recognizes that “the incapacity is the result of the interaction between the deficiencies of a person, and the obstacles like physical barriers, and dominant attitudes that avoid his participation in the society”, a person is not born with incapacity, that incapacity is created in the society as the person develops in a determined surrounding, that is to say, a person without arms nor legs, but with an automatic equipment in accordance to his limitations, and where he can move without problems, and do a job, and that is surrounded by people who do not undervalue him for not having hands or feet, will never feel that he is incapacitated and that is why it is said that incapacity is created in the society.
And I add that first it is created in the mind, because I have realized that nothing is more important than what we think about ourselves, if a doctor tells us that we will not walk again, and we believe him, that will simply be, but on the other hand, if you think and believe that you are going to walk again I assure you that sooner than later you will walk!
- 9. LOVE IS THE BEST BALSAM FOR THE AILMENTS OF YOUR BODY.
When we are recovering from a CVA, we are going to go through many ailments, the shoulder and the knees are the most common, and we are also going to face, an endless tiredness, these ailments and this tiredness can easily lead us to emotions of frustration, anger, distress, sadness and finally to a great depression. However, there is always an exit, the sun always come up after a night, or the rainbow after a storm. Under my perspective, that sun or that rainbow get dressed with love , love in all its expressions, the love of the family, the love of the friends, the love of a pet, and more important the self love. When something hurts you, surround yourself with love, and you will see how the pain goes away.
Tell your shoulder that you love it and fill it up with caresses.
- 10. THE WHEELCHAIR, THE CANE, AND THE NEUROCOGNITIVE THERAPY ARE YOUR BEST INVESTMENTS.
Nobody told me, either I imagined it, but definitely to have incapacity or being in rehabilitation is one of the costliest things in this world. Facing this panorama, it is important to make good decisions, since although we do not want it, we are going to be unemployed for a long time, and our family, not always can take care of us. To have a wheelchair, can free us from many aches, since we can walk without a cane or not, we will do it at the people’s rhythm, and if we want to be accompanied to run an errand, it is easier to go in a wheelchair, and wait that the world adapts to our rhythm. To have a good cane, will avoid making much compensation with the body that in the long run will turn harmful for the health.
The neurocognitive therapy, for being an option that directly focuses on the cause of the problem, is our better option, additionally nowadays, can be done at home and at any time, thanks to the technology, so it offers many more benefits than you can generally find in health centers. Particularly, what I have liked most in doing this therapy, is that I have learned to listen to my body, and that is one of the good habits that one should have in our lives, because do not forget it, our body is our temple.
Article written by: Dayana Moreno, survivor of a cerebral stroke.