I think I got off pretty lightly from my stroke. Being alive is the major plus, of course, but I can walk (after a fashion...), talk, type this blog (albeit with one finger) and generally get about.
But sometimes I stop and think about all the little ways in which stroke affects me and it does cause a sharp intake of breath. Such an incident happened this week. I have applied for the new brain-injury identity card which is being issued by the brain-injury charity Headway (headway.org.uk). Not unlike other forms of ID, I will be able to carry it with me so that if one of my various problems (such as unexpected aggressive behaviour, for instance) rears its head while I am out in public, Mrs Warrior or whoever is with me will be able to use it to explain.
As is the way with these things, the application form (which can be downloaded from the Headway website) is a detailed nine-page document requiring contact information, verification of my brain injury and how I acquired it and explanations of the various ways in which it affects me.
I was fortunate enough to be able to have a Headway staff member help me fill in the form at a meeting of our local group (doing it myself would have been far too taxing) and I was horrified when I realised just how much my injury affects me in what might appear to me to be minor ways.
Attention and concentration difficulties? Yes. Confusion? Yes. Difficulty with decision-making? Yes. Dislike of crowds and noisy environments? Yes. Writing difficulties? Yes. Balance difficulties? Yes. Bladder control difficulties (Sorry!)? Yes. Dizziness? Yes. Fatigue? In spades. Swallowing disorders? Yes.
I could go on at length (aggression, irritability, frustration, use of inappropriate language, anxiety, mood swings), because the list of issues filled two pages and I answered 'yes' to at least 75% of them. It really brought home to me the long list of things that I try to deal with on a daily basis but which most people never see.
For the majority of the time, I deal with them successfully. But then complacency, or whatever it is, bites me on the a*** and I am shaken. Last night, for instance, I was walking down the road hand in hand with Mrs Warrior (it's not love, she's my walking stick, lol....). Suddenly, one mis-step from road on to path and I was sprawled in an ungainly heap on the pavement alongside our dog, checking to see that I hadn't broken anything, be it bones, skin, or glasses.
I hadn't.....this time. But I am always one step from that long list of small problems becoming major ones. As my Warrior tattoo says: "I fight for my health every day in ways most people don't understand''.
All stroke-survivors do that in one way or another. If this blog brings those problems to the attention of the wider world, I'm doing my job.