I learned a lot about patience in the last couple of years.
A little more than two years ago our nation held national elections. My preferred candidate wasn’t on the ballot; none of the names that were gave me any confidence. The stress was more than I should have allowed to build for me. I was, no doubt about it, a political animal.
For a couple of months before the election I tried to stay away from the relentless onslaught of political advertisements, requests for donations, and emailed threats of impending disaster from various PACs. It didn’t work.
My health was deteriorating although the decline was not attributable to any single stress. The usual issues we all face were there, too. Financial concerns, the effect of a bad economy on my family, and illness in my extended family took their toll.
On November 7th of 2016, I died. Three times. I think.
It sounds strange, I know.
My memory of that day is so muddled and incoherent that I cannot swear to what did or didn’t happen. I know it took several tries to get my heart started again. They would succeed and then I was gone again.
I woke up in the hospital, barely aware of who and where I was. Staff was forbidden to talk about the election. I was grateful for that when I remembered that there had been an election. It seemed so inconsequential compared to death.
The day after the election, during an exam by my medical team, I had a stroke. I vaguely remember the trip from cardiac care to the neurology care unit. My husband’s face, when I finally woke, showed fatigue, concern, and a strange calm. I cannot imagine what his experience of this was. I know he stayed with me every step of this journey. For that I will always be grateful. I’ve always known he was a “keeper.”
Recovery is like battling an angry animal, one you can’t identify and have no idea how to avoid. It is an unending challenge; overcome one attack and a new one begins, unpredictable and somewhat incomprehensible. From singing the “alphabet song” and my “1, 2, 3 little Indians song” to see if I could still speak intelligibly to tracing words so I could begin to connect the motions of my hand to the ones I could see in my head, I kept trying. When those were learned, I had to practice walking, not easy since my heart and chest were filling with fluid on a regular basis, making breathing difficult at best.
Baby steps are hard when you think of yourself as an adult.
Of all that I had to learn again, the hardest lesson was patience. It is, indeed, a virtue, not one that I have ever had in abundance. I needed the refresher course.
Yes, I would have liked to have found my inner calm, my patience, another way. I doubt that it would have had the impact that this failure of my body to cooperate with my impatience and conviction that I was in control of things that no one can manipulate accomplished.
My battles now are on new fronts. I work on endurance, distance, strength, and courage. I try to do things I haven’t been able to do physically, like looking over my shoulder while moving without getting dizzy. Mostly I try to live each day without fear of another heart attack or stroke. I try to overlook the obstacles that all disabled people face, knowing that most of them come from lack of empathy. Not all, but most.
I care less about most of the things the media obsesses about. I try to see the future. What do we need to do to get from here to there with compassion, hope, and love?
I try to focus on my strengths. I try to show patience.
CREATING A COMMUNITY
Rocking Horse Ranch Therapeutic Riding Program provides “equine-assisted activities and therapy to children and adults with a variety of physical, cognitive, and psychological disabilities in eastern North Carolina.” They train handlers and volunteers to work with their clients. Those clients include PTSD survivors, disabled children and adults, and community outreach programs in assisted-living centers and schools. Two of their mini-horses are now local sheriff’s deputies!
WEBLOGS I LIKE
“This blog is about life on our little piece of land. It’s about tapping into the farm girl ways I grew up with, and utilizing the best of what I learned; to enjoy life and live simply. This blog celebrates my relationship with nature, and my appreciation for experiences that have changed me. The most influential teacher of my life has been Daisy deer, an orphaned fawn we raised. I still spend time with her in the woodlands… and I am still learning from her.”