By: Mary Pat Baldauf
At Shepherd Center in Atlanta, they told me that my brain could be healing for up to two years. My recovery was so quick once we really got started with therapy, especially outpatient, that two years seemed like a long time frame. Fortunately, I licked all of the biggies before leaving Atlanta, like walking and driving, but every day it seems like things are getting better and more fine-tuned.
- I went to the Night Ranger/Foreigner/Def Leppard concert. We had great seats on the floor, and I stood up nearly the whole time. I sang a lot, too. And managed the arena stairs without stumbling or falling.
- The sensation of dullness that was once in my fingertips is getting better. I still drop things, but not nearly as much as I used to.
- I dressed up and went out for Halloween, which I hadn’t done in years. I did get a little claustrophobic when we were onstage for the costume contest, but that didn’t last long.
- I did a road trip to the beach by myself, on a rainy day even. Of course, my sister and mother were anxious until I got there, but I made it fine.
- I recently spoke in front of about 200 people at the APWA-SC Conference, and later at the same event, to about 75. I feel a little less certain thinking on my feet these days, so I made extensive notes and used them, whereas I used to talk off of the cuff more. But at least I’m learning how to adapt.
- At the conference, I carried a cup of coffee and my breakfast waitress-style to the table and didn’t spill anything. (I was happy to finally get to the meeting room to set them down, but no accidents!)
- When I got to the beach, I was able to walk along the shore without getting vertigo. When I went in August, standing at the shore caused terrible vertigo. I worried that the aneurysm had taken away my ability to beachcomb, which is one of my favorite things to do. But two days in a row I walked along the shore with no vertigo, and I was ecstatic.
- I walked to Trader Joe’s one Saturday morning. Pre-aneurysm, I did it every weekend. I took the direct route vs. the neighborhood loop, and I had to rest halfway, but again, I did it!
- My overall balance is a lot better.
- I had my first post-aneurysm first date. I was worried about not being able to drink wine on a first date, you know, to settle the nerves, but I did fine.
- I went through a period of not sleeping well, but that seems to have passed. I sleep really well these days, and I don’t even need a sleeping pill to help me get there. I hated the pills because I always either woke up groggy or overslept, so no pills is a good thing.
- I don’t really know how to explain this, but I can say “Kitty, Kitty, Kitty” now. I couldn’t when I first returned home and I’m not sure why. I’m sure it was related to the nerve damage in my right vocal fold. I can’t wait to find out from the ENT next time I go.
- I lost a bit of hair while in Atlanta, but it’s now growing back in.
- I’m walking the dog again, and I’m remembering to administer her daily meds.
- After six weeks off, for work schedule issues and a flooded gym, I returned to strength training. And I went after working all day. Getting back to it feels so wonderful.
- I’m trying to stop and think before I react to something. In the past, I’ve had a tendency to overthink things. I’m trying to work on that. And I have been able to make a little progress.
- I lost my credit union debit card. I knew it was at the house – probably in my bedroom – and it was driving me crazy. I decided to quit worrying and get a new one. It saved me immeasurable stress and was relatively easy to do. Have I quit misplacing things? No, but I’m learning to adapt. Same with my last LTD check, which I misplaced. I called for a replacement, and it actually worked out well since the amount was off. I had already spent way too much energy trying to find it, and it was such a relief to have that off of my back.
- Today, I needed some information from a colleague, and instead of emailing, I got up and walked to his office. Extra steps + voice practice = winning.
I’m trying to stay positive and focus on what I can do vs. what I think I cannot do. I’m keeping a running list of achievements. Even the small ones count because practically everything is a first after an aneurysm rupture.
Is everything perfect? No. There are still some issues. I am more subdued now than I was before, almost a little introverted. I am easily overwhelmed by sounds and activity, a sensory overload if you will. I often misplace things, important things like checks, debit cards, prescriptions and such. And a crying child or barking dog can drive me crazy. (I would say that is nothing particularly new, though!) But every day presents new challenges and tests, and every day, I do something I wasn’t able to do before.