Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Recipe for Recovery

Dear Ana,

Six weeks after my stroke at our third appointment you told me, "I haven't seen anything that helps stroke patients. You're pretty much going to have the functionality you have now. You need to learn to adapt."

At the time, my left hand curled into a useless fist. I could not even twitch a finger.

At our next appointment, I told you I was transferring to another occupational therapist. What I didn't tell you was that I had gone home sobbing and spent the next two days in bed, paralyzed from despair. Your words haunted me for months.

Fortunately, a chorus of voices rose around me, saying you were wrong.

Last Sunday I made dinner for 12 people. I held a grater as I skimmed lemons across it to make a zest; I minced garlic with a two-handed Ulu blade; I held tablespoons flat and steady as I filled them with spices and oil; I poured marinade into a bag of chicken pieces and sealed the Ziplock with both hands; I husked corn.

Dear Ana, there is something that helps stroke patients: Hope.

In future, if you can't give it to your patients, please don't take it away.


Marcelle Greene


  1. I hope you actually sent it to the clinic she worked at. If you are not up to it give me the clinic name and I will get it there. It seems we not only have to be our own advocates, therapists and doctors we have to train them also. The reason I really like blogs is getting insights like this.

  2. My wife says she can count as least three or four of those things that would've been a train wreck in her kitchen.

    Within our first two months of dating, I had to take her to the emergency room for cleaning the food processor. It wasn't a deep cut.

  3. I had no idea what had happened to me, or that it wasn't going to just go away, until things had started to improve a lot. I am lucky no one every got around to discouraging me.

    I too hope you actually sent that letter.

    ps Sounds like a fabulous dinner! (grin)

  4. Way to go Marce! In my work encouragement changes deeply ingrained habits and can be life changing...
    love joe x

  5. sometimes people have no idea how much their words affect us. Once you hear things, you can't unhear them.
    You're so badass, Marcelle. xo

  6. Thank goodness you had people to encourage you and you had the courage to demand better care. I can't do as much with my hemiplegic hand as you can but I call it my blessed hand. I know you are thrilled by every achievement you listed in your post.

  7. @Sarah - And then you really needed to clean the food processor.

    @Dean and Linda - I'm going to mail it.

  8. Hi Marcelle,
    This is the first time commenting on a blog- wonderful! How beautiful, your description of your great progress- describing it through cooking tasks we, who have not had a stroke, take for granted. What a celebration that dinner must have been.

    I remember the time you told us all about your therapist's cold, negative assessment. You have risen above! Thank you for sharing this battle.

    Jackie F.