“Are you feeling ok?”
I looked up from my satchel confused, and probably with a weird look on my face and said “…yesss… Why do you ask? ” and immediately the gas station employee replied with ” Your right side of your face looks like its drooping.”
The nice thing about being a repeat customer, is that everyone knows you and your story, but the sad part is, that I probably freaked him out more than I probably should have when I said that my post stroke neuropathy does weird things to my right side, and then walked out with my drink and change in hand, without even waiting for him to say anything else.
I went straight home.
When I stepped into my bathroom, I stared at myself in the mirror for a good hour, analyzing, wondering if I haven’t been noticing these slight changes that are slowly taking place. No doctors have ever mentioned to me that I could slowly lose muscle control over time, but my sensations have been going in and out lately, and the pain from the neuropathy has been happening so often that its normal for me to have to sit down more often while I am working, just to cope with the right sided weakness that I feel from it. I sat in the mirror with lights pointed at me from every angle, so that I could see for myself, that yes.. my face begins to get lazy after speaking (to myself) for a period of time. I thought maybe I was over analyzing, or maybe people just don’t notice, or maybe they’re even kind enough to not let me know that my face is completely asymmetrical and I look ridiculous..but it hurt to know that in my future, more things may change for me physically, and much more than I anticipated.
I didn’t want to stay in the house, so I got my things, and went for a late night drive.
Driving is the perfect opportunity for clearing my head. The only issue, is that I haven’t needed to go on a drive for months, and this new issue wasn’t the only reason that pressed me to get behind the wheel. Things change, and they can change fast without even giving you the chance to go back and correct the problem. You think 6 months ago I was thinking about how I will have 2 different expressions on my face at all times? No. I bet you I would’ve cared less about that then, But my priorities changed and so did my focus on the next step to getting better. First my goal was walking unassisted, then it became running, then it was tackling high heels, then it became weight lifting, now it’s become getting healthier and getting my balance back again. I want to be there to grow old with Mr. Ricardo, I want to be there to watch my Godson Niko grow up, and I want to be there at work, walking around happy and confident about the body I am in. I do not want to show signs of being a stroke survivor, and although it is something I am very proud of and would never hide, I don’t want that “I am so sorry” treatment from the world. I did not swim upstream in a river of bears just to be given the “you poor thing” look. Thats not who I am, thats not what I am about.
Instead of turning onto my street and going home, I turned onto another, and stopped near the river, turned off the car, and stared at the stars through my moon roof for what seemed like hours.
to be continued,