Today, I Will Complain…
When my sons were children they wanted to complain about my disability all the time. Children show us how we have a natural tendency to complain. It takes effort and maturity to focus on what is positive. Over 20 years it has gotten exhausting, but I refuse to become someone who complains all the time.
I was determined to not be a complainer and stay positive. I also wanted to show my sons that it is possible to remain positive in the face of awful circumstances.
When they complained about how slowly I walk, I would remind them that I am lucky to be able to walk at all. Whatever their complaint, I could always find an upside. They would often complain about my positive attitude. It was difficult for my family to appreciate the simple fact that I was alive if I was handicapped. It was easier to focus on my limitations and what it meant for our lives as a family. I could usually boil complaints away with simple reminders to be grateful that I was alive or doing anything at all even if there were challenges.
From the Brain Aneurysm Foundation:
Ruptured brain aneurysms are fatal in about 40% of cases. Of those who survive, about 66% suffer some permanent neurological deficit. Approximately 15% of patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) die before reaching the hospital.
In my case, it was an “extremely large” hemorrhage according to the neurosurgeon. When he saw me walk into his office for a follow up appointment, he was thrilled at how well I was walking and stood back to watch me walk down the hall of his office.
I remember feeling self conscious as he watched. My left arm was flying around on its own accord because of spasticity. I hiked my hip to clear the floor with my drop foot. It was not pretty. But in his long experience as a surgeon, he told me that he would not have expected this outcome based on the size of the bleed in my brain.
I don’t like watching everyone effortlessly do things I am unable to do.
I miss being able to run to get out of the rain.
I miss dancing by moving my feet. I am a trained dancer.
I miss hiking.
I miss holding hands as I walk with friends or lovers.
I wish I could knit.
It was sad that my husband was not able to figure out how to be happy with what was left of me, and quit the marriage.
I don’t like having to constantly ask for help with fine and gross motor skills.
I miss riding a bike.
I was sad for a while because I can’t wear high heels, but this complaint has diminished over the years.
I find having chronic pain to be a major distraction from being able to function and enjoy life.
I was angry about having no sex life during what was supposed to be my sexual prime in the five years following the stroke.
I think that is enough complaining for today. Having the maturity and the ability to focus on my good fortune at surviving a massive cerebral hemorrhage at age 35 eight weeks before giving birth can minimize every complaint on that list. I am going to return to being grateful now.
Thank you for reading :)