My CVA happened while I was fast asleep. A CVA is a medical term for cerebral-vascular-accident. To me that medical term sounded flippant much like a short person being told that they are vertically challenged or a lying person is charged with having a flare for fiction. But medically speaking a stroke is literally a cerebral vascular accident. Not flippant at all. For a few years after my CVA I suffered from insomnia that turned into depression. I was told statistically that those are side effects that stroke survivors’ experience. But no one told me that I would experience the 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
I attributed my insomnia to my fear of dying during sweet slumber. I though that if I stayed awake as long as possible I could avoid death. How silly right? Denial. Lack of sleep causes other compounding issues like weight gain, and lack of focus. For the first time in my life, my favorite jeans no longer fit, my stomach giggles when I walk, I thought dimples were only deep on the face. And I often ask the same question more than twice in order to remember things.
These days, I avoid sleep to avoid tomorrow. I feel that if I stay awake long enough I can sleep through tomorrow and it will be the day after. How silly right? Depression.
Depression – much like fear – is irrational. How can anyone put off tomorrow indefinitely? Take those pills, pull the trigger, or insert the sharp object with a swift motion. This train of thought, I am all too familiar. Soooo NOT a solution. If you think about, it tomorrow becomes today whether you want it to or not. And today has a connotation of hope, the ability to start fresh. Acceptance.
Sleeping through a day in order for it to become the next day is called procrastination. To be truthful about what I was trying to avoid, I had to ask myself simple questions.
- What don’t I wish to face? 2. What are the tasks I don’t want? 3.What is the goal?
I had answers to each question:
- I don’t want to be a survivor or an inspiration.
- I damn sure don’t want to attend PT, OT or cognition rehabilitation.
- But I do want to get better – miraculously.
Being a young stroke survivor word gets around in the support community. Hospitals staff talk about the young survivor recovering in their wing. They invite themselves into you room tell you that part of recovery is to use the survival resources they give you. “You should come to Northridge hospital where we’ve been hosting a group of survivors for the past 12 years. It’ll be good for you to talk about your experiences, and hear from the others. There are Internet forums as well, it’ll be good for you to check it out.”
Soon the manager of an Internet forum for women beckoned, asking if I could join a Saturday night live chat discussing weather or not women with disabilities still had a libido. And how you navigate that.
I never joined the forum. At first I was flattered and looking forward to participate because I was looked upon as a woman with experience. And then, I was offended because I was looked upon as a woman with experience. Anger.
Here is my opportunity to express the bargaining stage of grief by appeal. Please do not assume that when you see any person with a visible disability that they are void of hopes, dreams, desires & accomplishments.
My EGO wanted to participate in the forum to dispel myths. I wanted to share my conquests with examples and techniques that have not failed me, history that you are most welcomed to repeat, charts and graphs in full color.
And then my ID kicked in suppressing that part of my psyche knowing that everyone must find their own way, go through the process, try things and make errors, because this is a universal experience. Dr. Ruth, Dr. Berman, Alfred Kinsey, ME and the Masters of Sex can lead a horse to water but…
You see when people love each other they do things to please the other person. What works, great, what doesn’t – reject it and keep it moving; the embarrassment lasts only seconds. And my SUPEREGO … we won’t talk about my supergo.
So if I may be so bold as to plagiarize Sidney Sheldons’ classic novel title and if tomorrow comes, know that tomorrow magically morphs into TODAY and this day if you choose to, you can visit the Pink Pussycat in NYC or the Pleasure Chest in West LA, or the dessert isle @ any supermarket USA. Open or close the doors to your sex life. If tomorrow comes, practice due diligence to make sure that it does, and enjoy your life YOUR WAY!