Monday, March 2, 2009

some words of wisdom

When you have a stroke several things happen:

1) Of course you had a brush with death. This has a profound effect no matter what. After the brush with death, everything that happens to any survivor happens. The feeling of being grateful for every day; love of life even stronger than before…

2) But there are other states of mind that, I believe, are particular to stroke:
a. Understanding for everyone. Stroke means part of your brain is damaged. According to the damaged area you have lost something that you never ever imagined was possible to lose. Maybe your capacity to understand, or to make sense, or to control yourself. It may be as specific as to being able to recognize faces. Because brain is still a black box to us we don’t know what is inside. For example it is obvious that if a person loses her eyes due to an injury, she cannot see. If a person has hysterectomy she cannot ovulate anymore. So, the innerworkings of human body are very much known, except the brain. It is still mysterious why a person suddenly acts differently. You cannot open the brain and look inside, to figure out the reason why. So we attach some kind of mystical, magical, mysterious explanations to it. We call it character sometimes, or the will power. Except it is nothing more than brain chemistry. Lucky for us, there are more tools available to mental health science than before, like better drugs and fMRI. Long story short, you, as a stroke survivor, suddenly gain valuable insight to the innerworkings of the brain. Because, your experience changes as you recover. And you understand why certain people can or cannot do certain things. In my case, for example, as a result to the damage to temporal lob region, I lost my ability to grasp the concept of Math. Over the course of four weeks I seem to regain it. But I now understand that if a child is genetically not well developed in that brain region, it is going to be harder for him to master math in school. And we would brand him as:”He is a bit stupid, he doesn’t get it” I now have an understanding for the genetic underpinnings of why a person can or cannot exhibit certain behaviors. So I say to my self: It is not intentional, it is what it is.

b. You take nothing too serious. You laugh at yourself. Well, once you forget what to do when you sit down to pee, it is not easy to take yourself too seriously. You notice that people around you can take care of themselves, thank you very much. You were always thinking that without you, the world will come to an end. What you notice is that, without you, the world continues to turn, people around you rise to the occasion and quite often exceed your expectations. You are relieved of the burdens of everyday life, because now other people do it. Yes it might not be the way, how you would do it. But often you are surprised how well their solutions are. You learn to trust other people. You learn how to let go.

c. You grow as a result of the process. Most of the people, including myself, feel too proud to ask for help. This is especially true for United States where doing-it-your-self is very much engrained in people. But when you cannot do the things you need to do, like getting up, or depending on others to utter you words, you have no choice but ask for help. It is a very very humbling experience. Swallowing your pride, letting go of your ego is an outcome of this process. The earlier you can do it, the better. We all like to give people around us, but it is not easy to be on the receiving end. You feel weak, sometimes even humiliated. But again, it is all in your head, how we attach meaning to behavior and words is up to us. In the end you understand that it doesn’t matter, nothing matters, in fact, you become humbler and wiser.

No comments: