In Training

I had a thought a couple of days ago about how I have felt about not being able to do things, over the several years since the stroke. When I next looked at WordPress, I saw that somebody had posted on a similar subject. As aspect of the post was about people needed to learn to laugh at themselves, I guess. Same subject, different context. So, it was a sign!

For me, it was not a process of learning to laugh, but learning to shrug, really. Things are what they are, and if I couldn’t (can’t) manage something, I had (have) two choices, to accept it, or to think of a workaround. In that respect, your brain really is key. So there have been wins, but there has been lots of frustration along the way.

There are lots of things I needed to relearn after the stroke. I guess the biggest individual thing was to get back onto my feet and master walking again – that started about a month post-stroke, tiny steps around my bed, and I have become stronger ever since. Even then, it took the best part of a year before I was good enough to walk any kind of distance.

My arm, though, still poses problems to this day. More specifically, my hand. It’s got a flicker but not really any more usable than the day I had the stroke. So, this workaround notion is ongoing.

Two-handed things are a struggle. It’s kinda weird, these are everyday tasks that just require two hands, that I never really used to even think about.

Buttering a piece of bread, for example. More specifically, how to accomplish it without (a) the spread running away from me, and (b) the piece of bread running away from me. Even now, my wife does not realise that the spread is jammed in between those two other things, making it imnmovable, for a reason.

Another example is my socks. If you don’t believe me, try it, one handed. I once posted on here about the arguments I used to have with my socks! Not a word of a lie!

However, I mastered these battles a long time ago, and I can think about them and chuckle. I can even share tips with other survivors – just last week, how to brush their teeth one-handed! (Clue – you squeeze the toothpaste directly into your mouth, instead of trying to squeeze it onto the brush, which is just gonna move.) I can’t stress enough how trivial these things are – they’re things we’ve done our whole lives and never thought twice.

So I can chuckle now, although it was bloody frustrating at the time. Some things, like my socks, I am trained. Other things, like my teeth, I thought of a workaround.

Some things are still out of reach. In particular, gardening. I used to allow my garden to run wild flourish each year, and maybe two weekends per year would involve lots of chopping, lots of cutting, and a couple of trips to the dump. So I have all the equipment – I even bought a trailer for the occasion!

No longer – most garden tools here are deliberately made two-handed, plus just lifting the things, with what was my weaker hand in any case, is beyond me. I even bought one of those new, lightweight, battery-operated hedge trimmers, figured out how I could rig it to work one-handed, but even a couple of pounds was too much. Okay, these things have double-switches for a reason, too, so I’m also kinda aware thet each of my workarounds is disabling a safety feature. I haven’t even tried working around the chainsaw (yet).

Staying on gardening, just before the stroke, I bought a new petrol mower with a turnkey ignition, and I can manage that – in fact, the turnkey makes all the difference. Although this, too, requires two-handed starting, I worked out how to trick that. Emptying the grass cuttings is also a knack that I mastered. Fortunately the mower is also self-propelled – otherwise I wouldn’t have a hope of pushing this 100 lbs machine across the lawn.

So there are ways I can contribute, things I have worked out how to do. But it has been frustrating, along the way. Even then, I note that the old me could mow both of our lawns in an hour, where now, it is one lawn per day, with breaks partway through.

But, there’s no point being frustrated here, especially with things like gardening. My strength is what it is, and speed isn’t important, so I have to just shrug my shoulders. And let my wife get on with it!

Author: Stroke Survivor UK

Designed and developed IT systems for banks, but had a stroke in 2016, aged 48. Returned to developing from home, and have since released a couple of apps. I split my time between this and voluntary work. I am married, with a grown-up, left-home child.

7 thoughts on “In Training”

  1. I’m so grateful for my body, that it works although I don’t care for it properly. Just to be able to walk and to see is something amazing!
    I often try to do things with one hand but I can’t. I also write sometimes with my other hand, to exercise in case of. I imagine a lot of things..
    Things are incredibly difficult with one hand and you need so much patience to do it! Is it easy to type posts for you? Or have you found a clever way of adapting that too if needed?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can offer some pointers, if you like 😀 But, writing? Stick to typing instead! Seriously, I have been surprised how little I need to write. Yes typing is do-able, except a very few symbols. €, for example. Here, ctrl+alt+4. Three symbols, or two which are far apart, tax me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Do you type with one hand? That’s got to be a challenge. I can do most of my WordPress blog typing with one finger because I’m using an iPhone, although it takes two hands — one to hold the iPhone and the other to type out the words on the screen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I do. Mostly I type on a laptop, so more compact kybd, but for my charity stuff it is full-size keyboard. It is undoubtedly slower, but I get by. If it wasn’t for the connectivity, I would have been lost at first. I prefer my laptop to both phone and tablet. I sometimes use the wp app while I’m out but it has a nasty habit of taking things off my “unread” queue before I have finished with them. I prefer the full-size web page. But I can get by with most phone apps, at a push. Those which don’t respond to your orientation can be awkward, but that’s mostly just usernames and passwords.

      Liked by 1 person

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