Saturday, May 28, 2011

That Is the Question

[Q]: How does a non-smoking, non-drinking, exercising, healthy-eating, low-stress mid-lifer have a stroke?

Doctors [A]: Dissection. The carotid artery that carries blood to my brain developed a split in its interior wall. A clot formed and a piece of that broke off and blocked a vessel in my motor strip.

Me [A]: In short, a corroded carotid.

[Q]: Why did I have a dissection?

Doctors [A]: Twisted arteries. Neck stress from yoga and chiropractic. Fluctuating blood pressure.

Friends and Strangers [A]: To learn a life lesson. To find my path.

Me [A]: I have gone over and over things I did that may have led to the stroke. In yoga class the night before, I turned my head while in shoulder stand. A few days before that, I self-administered a neck adjustment that emitted a loud crack. Just months before that I was showing off for my three-year-old nephew by doing a headstand, and he toppled me like a tower of blocks. I’ve also pondered what I needed to learn that took something this drastic to get my attention: Patience. Compassion. Balance.

No matter what I think, or what I'm told, I always come back to one truth: None of the answers can change what happened. And so there is only one question that really matters.

How do I go forward from here?


  1. Life is short and that cross town bus is always in the wings waiting to run us over.

    None of us know what will happen tomorrow. Going forward with the thoughts of what regrets would I have if my life ended tomorrow...

    Well, actually none, because I'd be dead, ya know. But...

    Living like that, that introspective, can be difficult. It might be easier to say: live for today.

    My niece's death - at 17 - has made me very introspective about my mark on the world. My bucket list, so to speak, is more about what I want to accomplish than what I want to experience.

  2. I have spent the 18 months following the stroke I had, also caused by a dissection of my corroded artery, soul-searching. All my life I have defined myself as a writer, sometimes even thinking I would be a writer "when I grow up." Well, at 53 and awfully grown up, after several career trajectories that got me off track - one more so than the other - this post-stroke soul-searching has led me to my heart's delight - I AM a writer.

    Going forward, I will write and turn my life into what it was meant to be - not as a disabled person, but as a writer.

    And I will frequently stop to pat myself on the back for doing one of the hardest things a person can ever do - recover from a stroke.