First, a couple of updates….
- Seems last week’s emergency room visit was a success:
- The Grauniad has po-facedly waded in regarding Trance (A Hypnotherapist’s View On Trance). I would have expected them to have complaints, but not this one.
OK. now, let’s press on… To The End.
apoplectic.me started well before apoplectic.me started. My hospital bed tweets were the William Hartnell/First Doctor to apoplectic.me’s Patrick Troughton/Second Doctor.
It all started like this:
@ricky_ballboy I think you mean harney
— Beth Monahan (@bethmonahan) November 4, 2012
Yeah. Did I mention I’d had a stroke?
The tweeting was my connection to the outside world. [Now, at the bottom right of each page of apoplectic.me, there’s a rolling feed of my twitter….] For the prior five weeks, even when I was conscious, I couldn’t be trusted with a phone. It was pretty bloody obvious that I’d just lose it. Much of the next three weeks were spent putting it in “safe” places, then trying to remember where they might be. In fact, it only took me a few weeks of moving about outside the house to properly lose it after I had “recovered”. But, when I started tweeting, people would respond. They’d be interested in the antics of “The Wee Man.” And, not only was I not dead, I actually existed. Because the Earth isn’t like the moon. Our physical footsteps aren’t the record of our time here, but our interactions with the people we love. And for me, that’s you guys.
I’ve loved the mature [ha!] apoplectic.me because it’s been great therapy. Occupational therapy, sure: I can’t say I’d ever been a webmaster before (and thanks again to NRS for the start-up tips and pointers). But also psychotherapy. The head-shrinking I had as an in-patient invariably left me more anxious than when I started, and it’s still only recently that I’ve begun work with my helpful, helpful out-patient therapist. So, for pretty much the life of apoplectic.me, I’ve been using this forum as a place to work things out for myself, just as, not so long ago, people would be encouraged to incorporate old-school journaling in their therapy. Hence the early focus on depression and uncontrolled crying. And there’s been a lot to work out, from grieving for the old Ricky, to getting comfortable with the new one, to trying to get past the discouragement of people who would rather minimize the gravity of a Grade 5 coma. There’s still work to be done, but apoplectic.me has helped me get to a place of relative inner peace.
At the same time, I’ve tried to keep in mind that other stroke survivors and their helpers might stumble across this place – one of the most rewarding posts during the life of apoplectic.me partly focused on the work that the folks at aphasia recovery connection do — and the response on their Facebook page was wonderful.
In a recent episode of Elementary, Johnny Lee Miller’s Sherlock agonizes about whether to go to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting to accept his one-year-of-sobriety chip. During the course of this dilemma, his sponsor explains to him that the chip isn’t really for him. It’s for the benefit of people who are working through that first year. An insightful point, I thought.
So, I’ve felt a balance has had to be found in these posts. As regular readers will know, relentless positivity (even in the face of terrible physical and psychic pain; not that you’d know – relentless positivity, y’see) has been a theme of my recovery. Even after my inhibitions returned a bit after the stroke, there was a surprising amount of laughter around my hospital beds. And I want any reader to see that having a stroke isn’t the end of one’s life. I’ve been encouraged by the stories of stroke survivors (and other disabled people) doing great and exciting things in the face of their deficits. Not that I’m saying that visiting a brothel outside Barcelona is a great thing. Exciting, maybe. No, this is the sort of thing I’m talking about. But at the same time, I’ve wanted to be realistic. Any stroke survivor whom I might mislead into thinking that the road to recovery is easy, I would be doing a terrible disservice. I know that my life has been changed for ever – in good and bad ways – and at times, that was a terrifying thought. As you all know, Beth has been my rock throughout this experience. When I was broken after trying to tidy the bedroom in the days shortly after my release, she put me back together again. When I was scared — so fucking scared — that this beautiful, kind, scary-smart woman would surely lose patience with my strokey ass, she soothed my terrified, perseverating mind, time and again. On the other hand, I don’t want to be discouraging to friends and family reading the blog. Oddly enough, being in a hospital bed with my hands covered in my own shit was amusing at the time, but it’s only now that some time has passed that I would expect you, dear reader, to fully appreciate the, er, toilet humour. Maybe that’s the stiff upper lip in me. But it’s time now to accept love and support.
Now that I can get through the day without pissing myself – and funnily, I used to rage about the doctors asking me every day about any “continence issues”, because I couldn’t even remember the continence issues I was having – gains are less dramatic. I don’t know that relating how tired I am after sitting at a computer for 40 minutes of surfing in OT makes for funny or interesting reading. I mean, I’d rather know whether the latest Danny Boyle is worth checking out. (‘Cos I still don’t know, and I’ve seen it. So, apoplectic.me may be at a crossroads. I’ve recently seriously considered jacking it in, but it’s like a friend that has helped me through recovery and I know I’d miss the hell out of it. And I still need it – it’s cheap, useful therapy . But even if apoplectic.me carries on, I’m not sure what form it’s going to take on a going-forward basis. I’m a more obviously introspective character than I was a year ago, but I’m not sure about the extent to which I want to share my ongoing internal life with the people I live among. Maybe that’s the last step…. Ironically, just before I move back to a land of proudly repressed feelings, it’s probably time at last to be sufficiently comfortable with myself to be myself.
Hello. I’m Ricky Brown, and I had a stroke, once.