Welcome to our blog! I originally started this blog in November 2010 just prior to having a major brain surgery to remove a large bleeding cavernous angioma from a deep part of my brain. You can best understand the gravity of our experience by reading the first several entries.(Nov 2010-Dec 2010) I wrote the first one and my sweet, adoring husband, John, wrote the next several (while I was too sick to do much of anything) that documented surgery, immediate recovery, and our reaction to the surgery complication (stroke)that was revealed 2 days after surgery. This recovery process has been difficult but we are making it. We appreciate all the kind words of encouragement we have received and we would like to thank everyone that has participated in helping us along this difficult journey. Also, if you have any questions about my personal experience, please leave them as a comment or contact me directly at thankfulforeveryday@yahoo.com and I will respond although I am not a doctor and this is not a replacement for medical care or advise. Please ask a real professional, or probably several. :) I hope to be able to help at least one person along the challenging road of brain surgery and recovery.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Stroke recovery is like a marathon

Except you don't exactly train for it and you never really pass the finish line. Or if you do pass the finish, when do you know you're there? For many survivors, it just seems to go on and on endlessly....way better than the alternative. :) I'll continue to be in the race for as long as it takes and in my ferociously competitive nature..I'm going to win..even though I'm only competing with myself...which is how much of this recovery thing has gone. I'm constantly trying to best myself. Can I lift more weight, do more reps, last longer, be faster, and on and on. I guess having a competitive heart has served me well in this instance. The other successful attitude has been persistence. I may not be the smartest, strongest, whatever...but I am crazy persistent and that's what this takes.
Previously, I have said I wanted to run a marathon in my lifetime. I don't even like running. It just seemed like an accomplishment of the mind to me. Something you prepare for as much mentally as physically, then you push yourself to complete the goal. Sounded like a fun challenge. Well, not anymore. No other marathons for me, thanks. This is the only one that matters, and it's not over yet.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Keep the good news coming

We just got some really great news. My latest EEG did not show any seizure activity(abnormal activity, yes, but seizures, no), and my seizure specialist doctor said I can stop taking Keppra! That is so exciting to me for many reasons. Probably the first reason is that this helps us put all this bad stuff behind us. Having a seizure free EEG is not something that would have happened without surgery because of all the old blood I had in my brain that was irritating everything. Prior to surgery I was having 20-30 seizures a day. It was really hard to deal with...and that is over!!! While the risk will always still be there, now due to scar tissue and old blood from the monster that was in my head, I am so relieved to hopefully have this bad part in the past. If for some reason the bad feelings (seizures) come back (which they never will), I was instructed to start taking the Keppra again and follow up with the doctor ASAP. It was a heartfelt goodbye, hoping I will never see him again...even though he's a really nice doctor. I just felt like this was one big part of this whole thing done! We made it. At times I wasn't quite sure I would live to do all of this, so every time a goal is met I am brought to tears...happy tears...so truly thankful for everyday...this is such a wonderful gift to appreciate every day life to this degree. I can't even explain it. This also means that I may be able to have another pregnancy in the not so distant future. I would rather not take any medication if I am able to have another baby, and now we are one step closer to that reality. I am also hoping my fatigue will improve without the Keppra. When I first started taking it I was really groggy, eventually "adjusting" to it, but maybe now I can "re-adjust" to not having it and have bounds of energy once again!! At least I'm hoping for that. :) So here we are, reaching another milestone of success. So wonderful to be coming back to life!!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What I am

Who knew Sesame Street would provide inspiration for stroke recovery?? Jack and I have been enjoying this lately. Love when he asks for Will.i.am Elmo! That's the goal exactly: be the best me that I can be and keep on gettin stronger.

Friday, August 5, 2011

On the road again

Well, sort of. Yesterday, I had my driver's evaluation and I PASSED!!! We're pretty excited as this is one of the last really big things that I wanted to do to return to my "former" life. This is also so huge to me because just 8 months ago, I wasn't even safe to walk alone much less drive. Amazing!! I have worked super hard in rehab trying to get all my deficits to disappear, and while there are still some things that are not right...if they are not limiting my life...I can accept that (and for the things that are limiting...I will continue to work on them for as long as it takes). Although I am still not able to drive according to the law, I am one giant step closer, and realize it's only a matter of time now. At least I am cognitively prepared to drive..that's the biggest issue. The process involves reporting myself to the DMV, since none of my doctors reported me, and hoping the DMV will not revoke my license at this point. Chances are less that they will take my licence away now that I have "proof" that I am a safe driver. I'm not sure how long it will be before I am legal to drive again, but I do know I am a lot closer to that goal now than I have been in the last 8 months.

The evaluation was very stressful and expensive so I am trilled it's over and I passed. It involved four hours with an occupational therapist that specializes in driver preparation after brain injury. The first 2 hours were in her office, testing. I was a bit nervous about the eye testing and I passed but some parts were rough. I still have no depth perception, but am completely functional without it. :) I guess I have adapted. Some of the other tests she had me do were timed and while my accuracy was very good, I am still processing information pretty slowly, but she said it was fast enough for driving. The second 2 hours were spent in the car driving with the OT and a driving instructor. I hadn't driven in 8 months so I was a little nervous and it was an unfamiliar car, but I did really well anyway. They said I was driving kinda slowly. I thought it was better to go slowly than make a mistake, and the area they had me driving in was very busy with cars, pedestrians, kids, construction, blind corners, etc. It required all my energy to be safe, but I did it!! Crazy thing is I used to drive all day for my job and now it's one of the hardest things to do. I wouldn't even think about it before and now I know it's a really high level cognitive process...involving so much of what I lost and have slowly regained: attention, multitasking, coordination, visual scanning/processing.

Driving is super important if you plan on doing much of anything in Los Angeles, especially while toting a 2 year old along. Sure you could try to take the bus, but who has all day to get where you need to go, much less carry around a giant car seat and all the stuff you need to care for a 2 year old away from home. When I first came home from the hospital, I tried to figure out how to read the bus schedule...turns out those things aren't designed with brain injured individuals in mind...heck John couldn't even figure it out. I did take the bus/train combo a few times going back and forth to rehab, but it just didn't work. The bus would run late and then I'd miss the train and end up waiting for hours in a bad area. Thankfully John agreed to be my personal chauffeur and brought me everywhere I needed to go...what a guy!! I'm sure John is just as thrilled to not have to be my personal driver for much longer. While I will miss our extra time together, I will relish in my reclaimed independence! As I finished up yesterday and was paying, I started to cry again. Happy tears!!! I'm doing it, getting better. The intensified appreciation that I feel is so overwhelming at times, I'm sure the cashier was thinking I must have failed or I was completely crazy, but I know...I have just taken another big step back into my life and I'm am so appreciative of every milestone.