Sunday, April 26, 2015

I miss my old self (too)

One of the laments that I hear a lot from survivors is "I miss my old self." But please, survivors, keep in mind – we all miss our old self.
I feel grrrreat!
I am as indestructible as I feel!


We often tend to look at the past fondly simply because we were young. But we're all getting older, slower, achier – and- as if tipping our hand of our aging interior – our looks take a hit.


So let's say a stroke survivor had their stroke 10 years ago – when they were 40. Now they're 50, and they "Miss their old self." It is true that stroke ages you immediately. The estimate I read recently is that the stroke itself ages you at least five years. That is, your brain is five years older, your body is five years older, etc. – all within the first 24 hours of stroke. So when survivor say "I miss my old self," I can dig it.
Doing well!

I haven't had a stroke, but I can tell you, 50 ain't 40. That is, you wouldn't be how you remembered irrespective of the stroke. So when you compare, compare to the projection of yourself given the added age.


So, like the rest of us, as you work against the deficits of the stroke you are also working against father time.
Crap I didn't even know I had aches.

I do know some stroke survivors who are in some of the best shape of their life after their stroke because this was really the first time in their life that they look after themselves.

9 comments:

Gizaw Gizaw said...

You Said "I haven't had a stroke, but I can tell you, 50 ain't 40. That is, ......." So how can you tell how I or a survivor feels..?

Peter G Levine said...

I don't need to; we all age.

Gizaw Gizaw said...

Ok.
I take your point and I actually have a great respect after reading many times your book. I learn a lot and your book is resourceful I now have the hard book and just got the ebook on my iPad Thank you a million times

Gizaw Gizaw said...

Ok.
I take your point and I actually have a great respect after reading many times your book. I learn a lot and your book is resourceful I now have the hard book and just got the ebook on my iPad Thank you a million times

u-woman said...

I love your book, and as a stroke survivor I can appreciate what you are saying here in this blog post.

There's still a difference though.

I suffered a stroke at 48, was considered lucky to have survived (by people who have no idea what a stroke means, like doctors etc.), and the next morning I was 80.

I know for a fact (from the 48 years before the stroke) that it's not the same with regular aging.

Peter G Levine said...

Thanks for the kind comments about the book u-woman. Here's my point. Let's say you have your stroke young, say 35. People will, sometimes for a long time, miss their old self. So, now they're 50 and they say they miss their pre-stroke self. I wonder if they factor in the intervening 15 years. Further, age does accelerate as we age. 5, young, 10 young, 15, young...and so on. Past 35 or so, all systems typically slow. How long ago was your stroke, and when you lament how stroke has aged you are you factoring the intervening years? If you have, then...perfect!

u-woman said...

Whew! These days people are often offended by my remarks (and let's not even talk about my black humor nobody laughs about but me, lol), so I tried to be extra careful when wording my comment here, and I'm very glad I didn't offend you.

The stroke (which I'll *never* address as "mine") happened on 07/24/12, and the age "jump" I talked about was indeed how I felt over the first months, right after the event. It was a brainstem stroke (medulla oblongata) and my left side was completely gone. When the violent vomiting stopped (with medication help) about 24 hours after the first stroke signs, they dragged me up (start PT ASAP they said) and I flopped right over. Many, many handicaps followed, subluxated shoulder, wheelchair etc. So, those first months I really felt like 80 (it's just a fantasy number I use here, I know many 80 yos who run and do other crazy stuff ;) ). It was also then that I made a pact with myself. I had an exit plan, should I not get out of the WC. Some heroes manage even that, but I knew I couldn't have lived with it.

Anyway, this is novel length already (sorry!), 3 years and 1 month later, I still have many handicaps, but I've been able to live a *very* basic life on my own (the boyfriend dumped me 11 months ago because he "couldn't live with the reality of my stroke anymore"....yeah, poor guy). Now I face spasticity, hemiparesis and constant dizziness, which doesn't help my balance of course. But I manage, have to, nobody else here to help, and I refuse to get in any assisted living situation at 51.

Felt age now: ~65, "brain fatigue day" (not too often): ~70. (Poor you had to read my novel just for that! lol) I'm sorry for that, but for 11 months I've been living in my head only, with a word to a doctor or store staff thrown in once in a while.

P.S. English is my second language (I'm from and live in Austria), so please forgive any mistakes.

Peter G Levine said...

I think its a great comment, thanks. "I really felt like 80 (it's just a fantasy number I use here..." I think that's a great point, that if stroke ages one, whose age do we base it on; the "young" 80 y/o or the "old" 45 y/o? Aging is relative. But more to your point, there is no age for "spasticity, hemiparesis and constant dizziness" because it typically does not happen at any age. So, maybe that's the point; folks miss their old mobile self that would have been (nearly) as mobile even given their advancing age.

u-woman said...

I think you're right. That, I believe, is exactly the point most stroke survivors want to make, that's who we are missing. But what can one do? In my case, at least until today, I choose to fight every day against my deficits.

Again, thank you for your book, it's been helping me immensely.

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