Achievement? It's all relative

Living successfully as a stroke-survivor means celebrating your achievements, however minimal they may seem to the non-strokie world, while not getting too down on yourself when things don't go right.

So today, I want to offer congratulations to two good friends of mine. One is currently on holiday in Portugal and was determined to go swimming in the hotel pool with her family, despite being left with only one 'good' arm after her stroke.

Not only did she get in the pool, she posted a video on Facebook of her splashing around in the water. I'm proud of her, as I'm sure her family and friends will be, for having the guts to do that and to broadcast it on social media. It may not seem up there with speaking before hundreds of people or any other achievement you can think of, but it sums up this lady's 'can-do' spirit. And whatever cards life has dealt you, that can't be criticised.

The other story concerns someone who, in her words, 'managed to get up the stairs without holding the bannister'. You might think that's easy; if you do, just try it and you'll realise how much able-bodied people use the bannister without thinking about it.

Now imagine that you're trying to do it but one side of your body won't function as God intended it to. Just balancing on a level surface is a challenge - staying balanced whilst going up a flight of stairs is another thing entirely.

I know - ‪#‎breathebalancebeactivatedemily‬ spent months trying to teach me to do it after my left side was clobbered by my stroke. Now, I can do it most of the time as long as I don't think too hard. But it's still not easy. And walking itself is still not easy. Just when I get too complacent about my physical recovery, life comes along and bites me on the ****.

I have fallen over three times in the past week while out walking. Luckily, nothing was broken, be it bones, phone or glasses, but there's been plenty of blood, bandages and plasters and hurt pride. I'm taking it as a warning not to rush about so much and I'm blaming it on a combination of new shoes, new glasses, my existing balance issues and my insistence on multi-tasking (i.e., eating something or checking my phone) at a time when I should be concentrating on walking.

So I'll try not to get too down, even though I did feel like crying when I landed in an ungainly heap on the pavement in front of a group of (thankfully, sympathetic) taxi-drivers this morning. I'll do what I have to do - take things slower, carry a walking-stick if necessary, put on my "Warrior" t-shirt and keep battling on. It's what strokies do.