First of all, I don’t like the new layout for new posts. It looks simpler but my mind can’t quite process it. Instead of writing about the thing that has been bugging me all night and pushed me to log on this morning, I’m going to blog about post-stroke confusion.
Before my stroke I was a decently confused person. If your story was short and had minimal details, 8 times out of ten I could follow along. If you gave me directions to some place, I’d probably get 3/4 of the way there before I was like “Was that a left turn or a right one?” Pretty normal stuff. I could be confronted with choices and simple deduction could bring me to decide. I could walk into a store and face an entire wall of products and make a choice on which brand or color or fragrance I wanted within the realm of “acceptable” amount of time to do so.
Then I had the stroke. The doctors urged me to apply for disability right away. They told me I was going to be disabled for quite a while. Okay, that’s fine as long as I can eventually work my way into a better position with this disability if it’s going to hang around a while. For disability you must have proof, obviously. I had a lot of it but I only listed what I knew about. Obviously that was the fact that my left side wasn’t moving. What I didn’t know was that SSA makes you take evaluations that only they can see the results of. Okay, that’s fine; I seriously have nothing to hide. I pass the physical easy within three months post stroke.
I really didn’t know what to expect for the psych eval. I don’t know anyone other than myself on disability and I’ve never had a psych eval before. I was nervous for this, my anxiety was at an all time high. They ask you a bunch of questions about your mental health like are you sad, happy, depressed, angry? I didn’t know how to answer these questions! I was a pretty proud person at this time, I really didn’t acknowledge the full extent of what happened to me and I denied everything that comes with a stroke that isn’t visible. Plus, as an added bonus, I was pregnant. Do you know how similar surviving a stroke is to being pregnant? When we are discussing mental health, emotion and certain types of reactions to environments , it’s actually incredibly similar to being pregnant. I did a lot of shrugging and blamed most everything on the pregnancy and not the stroke. I had no idea what it’s like to be a stroke survivor. I had little to no information and honestly thought everything “wrong” with me was due to the pregnancy.
After I had the baby I noticed reasonably quickly that I am not getting better mentally or emotionally. I’m very upset and angry and there is so much going on in my head that I am no longer sure of my sanity. I still try to pin this on postpartum but there comes a point where you realize that no longer applies. I had to face the reality of things so I could fix them. I’m still working on that and I probably will be for a very long time. I’m still angry but at what specifically, I have no clue. I’m still depressed but I’m learning to live with it rather than let it hang around me unwanted and waiting to shower down upon me when I least expect it. I’m still learning about this anxiety. I’m trying to avoid medicating myself with anything other than smoking pot. I’m tired of pills. I’ve always had anxiety and it was always easy to move past but this new kind of anxiety related to my stroke is not so easy to ignore. It affects my whole left side when it hits. It makes it stiff and unstable; I hate it. But of all the things I’m still learning to live with, the confusion is one of the worst!
A few months ago Kasper was telling me a story about a wreck he witnessed. He’s telling me which direction he’s driving, on what road and to what destination. Okay, I’m with you. I got the image map in my head, continue. Two right turns later I’m totally lost. What road are you on? Which way are you going? What color was the car? What type of car was it? Wait, there’s an intersection there? Which way is north again? Do you see what happened, people? I got confused then further confused myself by allowing myself to become distracted! There was no hope for this story. Eventually I did one of those nods, “Uh-huh; yeah, I know where that is.” No, I didn’t know where anything was; I was totally lost in his story but I didn’t tell him.
We went grocery shopping a few months ago (yes, we’ve been since). I buy pretty much the same crap every time we go shopping. It’s easier for me that way. I buy this cheap thin steak every time to make beef fajitas because I love tacos of various varieties. I usually have no problem with this stuff. But on this occasion, however, they changed not only the labels but the packaging, the way they cut the meat and even where in the little refrigerated cooler shelves they put it! Could it be anymore confusing? No but this girl can make it embarrassing by throwing a $3 steak package and crying because her confusion got the best of her.
The same happens with the shampoo the next time I go shopping, minus the throwing of things but there is crying. The wall is so long and tall and there’s all these bottles that my mind won’t let me read. It’s just a bunch of lettering that don’t make words. I end up buying the one that smells the best. Yeah I have super straight, undyed hair and the shampoo is to keep dye rich and curls smooth, whatever. It happens again when I’m looking for cereal. They moved the cheap brand right next to the name brand and I’m like, “which one do I usually get?”
My son’s school no longer does enrollment in person. You have to go online and do it now. This means no one is there to explain it to me. I go online to fill out the forms, I’m crying within minutes. I don’t understand. They want a student number but I don’t have one and it doesn’t say where to find it. It says to submit forms but I have no forms, just this thing they keep calling an application. Why does my son have to apply for first grade in a public school? I cry, Kasper comes over and clicks submit. There’s no student number, it’s optional. The application is the form I filled out and it’s actually for free lunches. My son didn’t have to enroll at all, it was more like confirming that he is a student than applying.
I got summoned for jury duty. I’m an avid voter, I totally get why you keep sending me the damn notice like once a year. I would totally go if looking at the little notice didn’t give me heart palpatations followed by a river of sweat and instant migraine. I become overwhelmed with anxiety EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. I turn over the form and start reading for my exemption so I can check it and forget about it. No matter how many times I fill this out, I get confused every time. The way they write it is so confusing. Everything is disagree or agree but they do that “If you checked 1-6, just sign section 3, send and forget we sent this to you. But if you checked 7-10, continue to section B.” Wow, could it be anymore confusing? No, surely it couldn’t. I just hope I sent it in right.
My bank changed it’s page layout. For two months I thought I was in the hole; no, they just set it up differently. My e-mail provider changed their format; it took me two weeks to find my inbox. Boonshka’s P.T keeps changing her appointment, I don’t even know when she’s coming now because I got confused after the 3rd text. Yeah I could check it but would it help? Nope.
I don’t know if this will ever get better for me. I quit college when my FMLA days ran out because after one semester I was a mess. I couldn’t follow along. I was too confused about everything as well as struggling with my new inability to remember a damned thing. Every time I think it was a mistake to quit, I should have tried harder, I am sent a juror summons or some form to fill out for foodstamps or I get my Explanation of Benefits that freak me out every time until I see the THIS IS NOT A BILL reminder at the bottom. I’m too confused, too easily distracted. And we can tell because I was supposed to blog about how I think the PPaACA is totally screwing me over when it was supposed to assist those with disabilities and pre-existing conditions. Instead, I became overwhelmed by the change in format to the ‘new posts’ page on WordPress and my confusion distracted me into writing about something totaly different from Obamacare!