It’s been about a year since I had a series of mini-strokes that played havoc on my brain. I’m doing much better now– so much so that I’ve thought about compiling a tiny book about my experiences.
But I have slide backs, sometimes. Sometimes, like last night when the headaches woke me from sleep. Sometimes, like today, when I’ve spent most of the day incapacitated.
Sometimes, I feel like I fell apart and was put back together all wrong.
The recent headaches come with auras, and everything around me glows like it’s a point-n-click video game. Like if you touch them, a prompt will appear. I pick up my toothbrush, smiling as I imagine a prompt that says “A- Brush Teeth, B- Put in Backpack, C- Sell to Vendor”. I choose A, brush teeth, and I run it under the water. I take the Comet off the floor by the sick, and I shake it all over my toothbrush.
Halfway to my mouth, I notice the smell. The smell like toxic, the smell like don’t eat this, the smell like, you made another mistake.
I made another mistake.
They happen when my head aches and my ears pop, and my stomach turns. I look around my small bathroom and calm myself down. I putter. Setting things to rights, wiping down surfaces.
Puttering makes me feel better.
I get an idea. A better way to store the toilet paper rolls, so I go into the living room and tell the roommate. “I want to switch the toilet loaves.” He’s confused, understandably so, and it takes awhile to figure out that I’m saying the wrong words, and then awhile longer to remember the right ones.
By the time this is sorted out, I only remember that I had an idea, not what the idea was, and I’m filled with a sadness I still don’t have the words for. A deep, confused grief. I call the doctor and he reminds me that regression happens, and it only matters if it happens long term. I take an aspirin. He tells me to try not to stress. Stress is the number one cause of these set backs.
I take a nap with a light-blocking mask on. It doesn’t help, and I wake up feeling like I’m going to be sick. I decide to write this, and since I words keep shimmying away from me, I have to talk this post into existence instead.
I read it back, slowly. Very slowly.
I think it makes sense, but I’ll only know when I start to feel better. These set backs make me so sad, but it is reassuring to know that I will have many good days after this one, before the next bad day. The good days to bad days ratio keeps growing in my favor.
I’m mostly better now even though today has forgotten that fact. Outside my window, the sun is showering the city in blinding light. It feels like a thousand punches to my stomach, and though I’ve eaten almost nothing, I fight to keep it.
I imagine a prompt over the glass. A- Puke, B- Quit, C- Start Over Tomorrow.
I choose C. I lay down on the floor and cover my eyes. I speak a post into my cellphone. I add a task to my to do app. “Start over”, I say.
Does this task repeat? It asks.
Yes. I say.
For how long? It asks.
I laugh, but it’s not a whole laugh. It sounds like it was broken and badly put together. I select the last option on the list.
As long as it takes.
Ok, my phone chirps, I will remind you to Start Over tomorrow.
I smile, and close my eyes thinking of the right way to wrap up this post, but nothing comes to me. It’ll leave off like hanging thread. It’ll read like another mistake.
I promise to forgive myself for it, tomorrow.
Some other stroke posts: