I suffered a stroke on July 15, 2015.
One eye was bigger than the other and I was paralyzed in an altering pattern; my left face was numb, my right arm was numb, and my left leg was numb. Not the usual pattern for a stroke. Yay, me. Always having to be different.
Thankfully, I could still understand others, listen, and sit up. Unfortunately, I was unable to walk without falling down, read, watch television, concentrate, write, type, or speak in a linear sentence. To give you an idea, I spoke in fragments of Verb, Object, Subject, so a normal sentence might have come out “Walking around the park I went.” Yes, very Yoda-like.
I resigned myself to a life of being unable to do my job as a writer and communicator. It seemed like the only thing to do. Sit in my bed and hope for the best.
After a week, they sent me to the rehabilitation wing. The key was they didn’t take no for an answer. I had to start walking even though the whole hallway was tilted at a 90-degree angle. Just try to walk. I fell over most of the time with a guy shouting at me to get up and try again. It was the closet I’ve come to football two-a-days.
I tried wearing an eye patch to tilt the world upright. It didn’t work. So, I spent my time after my three-hours of rehab focusing on bringing the TV from vertical to horizontal. I didn’t really care to watch TV; I used the picture as a guide to tilt it back counterclockwise 90-degrees.
After a week, the TV was close to horizontal. It was slightly askew to the right, but it was close enough. Walking started to improve and I could stumble down the hall without running into the wall.
Walking became jumping over cones and then balancing on one leg. It was tedious and not as fun as learning how to walk as a toddler.
I took forever to climb a flight of stairs. You had to learn how to climb stairs before you went home. I couldn’t drag my left leg up and had to spend hours working on accomplishing this task.
They tried to teach me how to type again and that was quite a challenge. I knew I could touch type but I couldn’t make my fingers work as fast as my brain. I never really accomplished this at the rehab hospital.
After three weeks of rehabilitation, I could go home after my stroke. I still couldn’t walk without help and the entire world was super bright and out of focus. I went home and decided I could at least feed myself. I was feeling sorry for myself and depressed. Stroke recovery seemed like a bad way to end up at 52
My wife decided I wasn’t going to sit around. You know those books we all used in the first grade to learn cursive? Darla brought those home and insisted I practice writing my letters. Big block letters and puzzles for 7-year-old’s filled each page.
I traced letters, then started making words. I must have written out my own name hundreds of times.
Once I could write words, I tried to write sentences. Thankfully, they started to make sense and followed Subject-Verb-Object. I was closer to returning to writing for a living.
I then started pecking at the keyboard. I had to look at the keys and felt much like I did in my first typing class. It was taking a long time and I kept hitting the wrong keys. I never would return to 45-words a minute. I was more like 10-words a minute.
Still, I made progress and decided I could return to work and I made a goal of writing something everyday. Soon I decided to write short stories online and averaged 500 words everyday writing short stories and poems. I wrote a short novelette Cindy’s Sin, a collection of short stories, some poems, and published them on Amazon.
Four years later and I am making plans for a novel. I thought about my journey when I started editing some of my short stories. Some of my writing is good and some needs some work.
But isn’t that what being a writer is all about? I look forward to the future and honestly think I am finally close to where I was before the stroke.
© 2019, Michael Shawn Sommermeyer. All rights reserved.