The Thing Wrong With My Brain

brain lobes
Photo Credit: aboutmodafinil.com
I’ve written before about the stroke which caused temporary paralysis in my right hemisphere  20 years ago. Some of you even knew me way back then and have supported me in my backslides since. In case you missed it, here’s a short recap:
  • At age 24, I suffered a stroke
  • Blood clot on the left side of brain caused right side paralysis.
  • No drugs were given.
  • After a period of time, my brain “re-wired” itself over the dead spot so I could function again.
  • Looking at me, you can’t tell anything is wrong. (Talking with me is a different story – but I digress.)
  • A pampered culture

Here’s what most people don’t know about my brain:

  • When I’m tired, my right side, speech, and function slow down considerably.
  • When I’m stressed, the same happens.
  • When my brain has to concentrate on ANYTHING else, i.e., staying awake, calming nerves, etc…, it becomes “un-wired” and I experience stroke-like symptoms again.

Sometimes months go by and I forget I have issues.  

Then there are times like the past week.
I was no more rushed than any of you after the holiday, I’m sure. Maybe even less so because I don’t work outside the home. However, for winter break, I slept in as long as I wanted and the family had no pressing activities to attend. Edd even took time off of work. We all shared 2 weeks of complete relaxation. I probably should have prepared my body a bit before jumping back into real life.

***Strike 1

My beloved boot-camp – the exercise program I love to hate – needed to re-vamp their schedule. The only time I’m able to now attend is at 5:15 am. I thought I could be one of those groovy women who did more before my kids woke up than most people do in a day. Alas, by noon, I was out of commission. At least, my brain was. I tried it for 2 days and pushed my body through when I shouldn’t have.

***Strike 2
All family activities geared up again this week: school, dance, theater classes, auditions, callbacks and cast-lists, homework, DECA projects, volunteering – I felt pulled in every direction. Again, not a big deal normally, but after 2 weeks of rest and then waking at 4:45 am to get the days started, my brain began to unravel.
***Strike 3
Relationships, exciting new possibilities on the horizon, and catching up with all things ignored since Thanksgiving are GOOD, but take a toll. My routine was off and my brain responded.
***And she’s OUT!
Friday, I assumed my theater mom volunteer responsibilities in recording casting notes for auditions. Only the information wouldn’t translate from my brain to my pen. Try as I might, I couldn’t move the 10 pound writing instrument through molasses; the very same symptom which alerted me something was very wrong 20 years ago. 

Photo Credit: Elephant Journal
I handed over my volunteer responsibilities to a friend. I escaped for a mini-pity party of one.
Why can’t I handle normal tasks?
Everyone else does way more than I do – where is my strength?
What the hell is wrong with me?
I know the answer to these questions. I just don’t want the answer to be true. 
It is 11:00 am, as I type this post in bed. Typing is way easier than manual writing for some reason. The right side of my face is numb and on the keyboard, my hand shakes. Transferring my thoughts to the computer screen provides a simpler way to communicate than developing speech this morning. 
I’ve done too much, though you may believe I’ve not done much at all. And because I ignored my brain when it said, “ENOUGH!”, now I’m not getting anything done. 
Oh, the irony.
When does your body tell you, enough is enough? Do you listen? It’s a lesson for me, to be honest. Not just to watch for signs in myself, but to give others grace when perhaps they are not listening to their bodies either. 
Stressed out folks make for a snippy, judgmental, entitled society.
I promise to do better this week. If I’m moving a little slower, you’ll know why. And if I get a little snippy – please tell me to chill out. You’ll be doing me a favor.

Comments

  1. PiaSav says

    I have an invisible disability called nonverbal learning disorder which has many of the same symptoms.
    I do nothing before 7AM–except stare at myself in the mirror or watch the sunrise
    i tape instead of write–notes and things like
    I know life is too much when I begin doing everything wrong or begin getting angry. Until I finally learned about NLD when I was 56 I had no idea why I had a temper–well thought it was hormones. Funny but that was the year I stopped having my period and still felt angry too often
    I work very very long hours when I can but when I'm doing assignments for others have little control over my hours. So I mostly work just for myself. Am fortunate to be able to do that

  2. says

    Pia, your comment means the world to me, thank you. I get SO frustrated with myself, it's nice to know I'm not alone. You know what? Last week when this was happening I was TOTALLY bitchy. (Well, more than normal, which means A LOT.)

  3. says

    I have the same problems but on my left side. When I am overly tired or stressed out my language and thinking skills suffer. I can't keep up with a conversation. Mine started after a care accident. I believe what really happened was one day I was having acupuncture while I had bronchitis. The needles were in my neck and in the back of my head when I knew I was getting ready to vomit. I reached really far with my left arm and grabbed a garbage can to vomit when if felt as if I had been struck by lightening. I walk with a noticeable limp now, I sometimes slur my words or get confused easily. It is a very hard thing for people to not understand that have not been through it. I get angry as well and well turn into a bitch. My husband knows this and understands me and the changes. Give yourself a break!

  4. says

    Oh, wow! I'm so sorry to hear all of this, but so thankful you shared. I can't tell you how comforting it is to know I'm not alone. Sometimes I beat myself up because I think it's all in my head…which I guess it is…but, well, you know!

  5. Jody Ohlsen Collins says

    Andee, you got zapped doing WAY more than normal people should do. Period. And you already had a disadvantage. Continue to listen to your body–I got Epstein Barr Virus back in the 80's (before it became fibromyalgia) and God spoke loud and clear–TOO MUCH IS too much. I'm getting much better at saying 'no' but it's taken a long time.
    Listen to the Holy Spirit while you regenerate, ask Jesus what HE wants you to be spending time on and get better.
    Amen.

  6. says

    Thank you, Judy. This means a lot coming from you. I look at our mutual friend, Cornelia, and think, "Why am I complaining? I don't do 1/3 of the things she does!" The business-comparison game is big for me, though I so wish it weren't.
    Also – I didn't know Epstein Barr was fibromyalgia! Huh. Learned something new.

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