September 24, 2016
I was in my home office. It was a Saturday. I have two computers – a Windows 10 laptop and a Windows 7 desktop. I was playing FreeCell on the desktop computer. It seems silly but that’s how I was keeping my brain sharp – at least that’s what I told myself. My husband was on the couch and he was looking at something on his computer (which he keeps tied to our smart TV – it serves as a very large monitor.) As I played this silly card game things began to get really strange. To me it looked like all of the cards were bunched up when I dragged them over to a stack. I was puzzled. This wasn’t normal behavior for this particular game. My next thought was “maybe I should log out – or shut down – or something” so I dutifully clicked the Windows key on my keyboard. As an IT professional I am aware that when one clickes on that particular key a menu pops up allowing you to make a decision – log off, restart, shut down – or something similar. In my mind I should have been able to click on one of those and follow the instructions. On this day I became confused. I was certain I could just DO SOMETHING but nothing happened. I kept pressing the Windows key which opened the menu – and then closed the menu – and then opened the menu – and then closed the menu. You see, I didn’t ever take the next step. I just couldn’t.
In frustration I stumbled into the living room. I plopped down in front of my hope chest – a velvet covered seat atop a cedar box – handcrafted – missing a wheel or 3 – but it provided a decent amount of storage so it’s there and it’s useful. I couldn’t stand up. My legs refused to support me. My husband looked over at me and assumed I was suffering vertigo, which is a natural state for me, on and off. I crawled over to the couch and got myself up. I stretched out and he looked at me again. He must have asked me a question but he tells me I just kept repeating myself saying “what are the words? what are the words? what are the words?” He had been Googling something else but he was suddenly alerted to the fact that I wasn’t behaving in the normal fashion. The next thing he said to me was “put on your sweater. Put on your shoes. We have to go.” I play a game on my phone called Game of War – a very expensive game where losing your “city” will mean losing real dollars. In my head I was saying “I have to contact my alliance and get someone to put a shield up around my city because I think my husband is taking me to the hospital.” Instead I texted (as best I could) to the leadership in my game because my words were still not coming out right.
An obedient wife, I put on my sneakers and my sweater and went out to the car. He didn’t say much. He did keep looking over at me. I was puzzled because I felt perfectly fine, just disoriented and confused. When we walked into the ER I tried to push him aside to tell them that there was nothing wrong with me. An attendant/orderly type said “this looks like the real thing” and I was pushed into a wheelchair and whisked away. I was diagnosed with a massive cryptogenic stroke and my husband’s prompt actions saved my life. Within 3 days I was almost 95% recovered with no loss of physical or mental faculties. Some words and letters had to be relearned but that was through determination and forcing myself.
What does this have to do with making changes? My husband cooks and eats vegan foods – for his health and mine. I’m a meat and potatoes gal. I like cheese and butter and all things non-vegan but I do try to eat what he prepares. (He IS a fabulous cook so who am I to argue?) I struggle with this because I WANT to be healthy but I don’t know how to reconcile my needs with my desires. I have a lovely treadmill. He has bought himself an exercise bicycle which I am eager to try. Vegan foods still cause my stomach distress. My inner hippie wants to be healthy and natural and follow a more basic lifestyle. It’s hard though. So I pursue alternatives. I read the books. I read the magazines. I research. And then I try new things. I know I need to make changes but I’m still learning how. Just like relearning after my stroke I need to be patient. I need to forgive myself when I don’t succeed the first time. Habits take time. Loving myself enough to live healthy takes even longer.