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.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Emotional recovery

As I embark on the ninth month of recovery it is finally the time to refine my focus on my emotional recovery. After all, I am hoping for a complete recovery in terms of body, mind, and  spirit..whole person/being recovery.  My physical:body recovery has been amazing. My cognitive:mind recovery has been slower...but none the less amazing too. I'm getting there one baby step at a time. My emotional:spirit recovery is only beginning. Ahhh...how daunting??? This whole process has been so beyond challenging both mentally and physically. And there is one big giant piece left in my recovery. The lucky thing is I get to do it.. I'm alive...after all this I can do anything! I am a very emotional person, and no this is not a result of my brain injury...it is who I am at my core, it's a big part of what defines me, and I am very glad that my emotional side was not lost with everything else. I have always been this way and hope to always be this way. I think being emotional is a very good thing. All of this brain stuff has definitely impacted my ability to process my emotions as they came though. I was so afraid of getting depressed that I chose to put all the scary, sad emotions aside and only focus on the tasks that were going to yield me recovery in the measurable sense. I couldn't handle all of the emotion associated with agreeing to have my head cut open, all the risks associated with that, and the intense focus that was required for maximum recovery. It was really hard to be all messed up and fully aware of all my deficits. The whole experience was very humbling and I was determined to not let it be crumbling. The months leading up to my surgery were grueling as I tried to accept what might be and plan accordingly. I was petrified only to find out after surgery that the unimaginable had in fact happened. I thought many times: O' God...help me be ready for this!!! As much as I wanted to be prepared...one can never be ready for this. So as panic set in, I checked the emotion and got down to work...,"Send me to rehab...I'll figure the rest out later". Well, now is later and there is so much to deal with. The good news is...I'm alive and really darn good!!! The not so good news is that everything I couldn't deal with is still waiting. Couldn't some of it have just disappeared by now? Nope, it's all still waiting for me on the back burner where I left it. Many times along my recovery, I was asked, harassed, and burdened by others trying to get me to take on more than I was prepared to handle, and because I am the patient and this is MY recovery...I dismissed all requests to put more on my plate, not because I am rude or insensitive but because I knew I wasn't ready to take on anything more. If you ever feel overwhelmed by too big a job, break it down...only do what you can...eventually you will get there one piece at a time. Working on difficult relationships with people that were seemingly not supportive leading up to surgery and in some cases even afterwards were at the bottom of my list as I worked ferociously trying to reclaim my life (walking, talking, taking care of Jack, etc.) I have often wondered if these relationships are of any value, if they didn't care then...why should I care now? Oh, I know why...because they are "family" and somewhere in between all the hurt, pain, and disappointment that I felt is that mysterious strange thing called "love" that was either shown or rather not shown on many occasions. Regardless, I had a strategy to work on a focused recovery plan and it worked, and I believe in love (although my idea of love looks very different than most of my family's version). This is why I have enlisted the help of a professional at this point...to help me deal with the difficult relationships now.

Even though I have "looked" good for some time, I am not "recovered", but I'm convinced I will get there. Most of what has been and continues to be wrong is in my head...you can't see it, but there is much to be done. So as I embark on my spiritual recovery, I am hopeful the process will once again yield amazing results. It seems like it is taking forever...yet I just started working on this part a few weeks ago. I have to remind myself that patience is the virtue to behold. 


  1. My occupational therapist told me long ago that things recovery in exactly the order you mention; first physical gains, then you can focus more on cognitive and then there is a period of coming to terms emotionally. That last part turns out to be much harder than it sounded.

  2. I never knew about the scientific process of recovery. It was just my experience on the first two (physical/cognitive) and the emotional stuff was just too big so logically it is getting attention last. And, yes, I understand how hard all this coming to terms is..even though my recovery has been amazing. This has been a "life changing" experience in many ways.

  3. Elizabeth, it is so good to read your entries. I've fallen out of the loop for sometime and it's nice to come back and read what you've written.

    Family - it hurts the most when the people who are supposed to be closest to you don't or refuse to understand or support you. I don't know the specifics, but your feelings come through strong (and like you said, luckily you have not lost that side of you).

    You know what's best for yourself - you are doing the right thing by handling what you can/could at a time. Even someone seemingly qualified who is telling you you can handle more doesn't necessarily know that you can. You have a strong spirit and I don't see you as needing someone to push you along.

    My own small experience was when I was in ICU and sat on the toilet, very carefully to not fall off, keeping my head straight and eyes ahead for some semblance of balance as the room spun around me. I slowly got up, weakly, crookedly and wobbly as I'm sure you can relate - and my nurse asked 'aren't you going to wash your hands?' I felt it was absurd, but not necessarily her fault - just a small example of how personal brain injury is - only we know how we feel and what we can handle.

    You know what's best - you've been through so much. I love the drive you have despite everything you've experienced in the past year - you have scrapes and scars, physical and invisible. I hope the best for your spiritual recovery and the strength to let those go who don't have your best interests at heart.