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All my successes in the almost eight years since that horrid day were just actions I took to make the world more aware of strokes. But the successes are insignificant now in my eyes, always attempting to seek out the “thing” that will take me to the last stage on the list in Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ On Death and Dying, the Five Stages of Grief–Acceptance.

But it’s Acceptance that just won’t come to me. Don’t think I haven’t tried. I wrote a book about the stroke–The Tales of a Stroke Patient. Not enough. I write a blog called the same name as the book. Not enough. I was leading a stroke support group in the hospital. Not enough. I spoke at various forums and medical facilities about strokes. Still not enough. When is it that I will “accept” the stroke? Maybe never.

So here am I again, the stroke survivor, with ten resolutions for the new year. Maybe this will lead me to Acceptance. My random forced optimism is just that, an effort to see if this post will get me there. So here are my resolutions, in no particular order except the last, the things I want to happen most:

10. I will continue to work on the novel that is purely fiction. I’ve never written fiction before and I find it a challenge. I only wrote non-fiction for the past 50 years–telling, teaching, informing, explaining, aka news stories, books, blogging, how-to technical manuals. By the way, that picture is accurate. I write one-handed now. (http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-fiction-5-tips-to-get-more-creative)

9. I will continue to lose weight beyond what I lost so far, and it’s a lot, but it’s harder now that I am older and don’t move around so much because of the stroke. I can’t do any exercises that have me sit on the ground because I can’t get up. Yes, there’s the recumbent stationary bike that I use four or five times a week. And there’s walking up the hill to the parking lot. But I’m determined and that’s, in my opinion, the most important quality, not to mention lighter is better. (http://www.clevelandclinicwellness.com/conditions/Stroke/Pages/FuelYourRecoveryfromStroke.aspx)

8.  I will set the phone alarm and put it on “Snooze” so I will be forced to get up and take my Coumadin. (http://stroketales.blogspot.com/2016_11_28_archive.html/) I usually set the alarm to “Stop,” but no more. The best way to take this blood thinner is to take it the same time every day. I’ve been having ups and downs on my INR, the test that determines clotting, but maybe this alarm set to “Snooze” will help. The alarm sound unnerves me!

7. I will stop pretending that I can change people, to fit them into the mold that is acceptable to me, aka kind, gentle, supportive. The ones who don’t? Out of my life. (http://psychcentral.com/news/2013/06/23/nearly-1-in-4-stroke-patients-suffer-ptsd-symptoms/56321.html) People that are angry-spirited and controlling will continue being angry-spirited and controlling because they are satisfied with themselves and don’t see a reason to change. People can only change if the “want” is there. Without it, the success rate is nil.

6. I will donate to Heifer International instead of buying gifts for holidays and birthdays from now on. The charity’s mission statement is this: “Heifer International’s Global Impact Goal will be measured through a process…to allow us to clearly measure the impact of our work to end global hunger and improve livelihoods.” I just gave chicks to combat hunger. Pretty neat, huh? (https://www.heifer.org)

5. I will regulate my sleeping schedule to arise at the same time every day, even on weekends once the new year comes. My poor sleeping habits started in the 80s when I worked as a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News. My ex-husband was no help with the kids, and I could only write when the children went to bed. So I got used to it, writing from 10 until 2 or 3 in the morning, with sometimes with 4 hours sleep. But no more. Now that I had a stroke, sleep is extremely necessary to support a healthy nervous system and a clear-thinking brain, or what’s left of it. (https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Understanding-Sleep#for_us).

4. I won’t worry what people think when I wear the same-styled  sneakers all the time. Those sneakers, said more eloquently as Hush Puppy Power Walkers, are not cool when I dress up, but so what? These shoes, which I have in three colors–taupe, white, and black–help me get from point A to point B. So if somebody thinks they’re not appropriate, I won’t care. I’m so grateful for ambulating at all!(https://www.amazon.com/Hush-Puppies-Womens-Walker-Sneaker/dp/B001AX0EFW)

3. I won’t be a shopaholic in 2017. There’s nothing I need aside from food and drugstore stuff and random entertainment. I have enough clothes and (see previous) shoes. I used to get super-charged when I would go shopping before my stroke. But now it’s tedious, stretching the functioning arm or leg to assist the other side. Bottom line: I have enough. (Here’s an interesting article on shopaholics:  http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/features/when-too-much-shopping-becomes-a-problem_)

2. I won’t give up. Too many stroke survivors do. But for me, the way I was raised, the way my parents wanted me to be, I have no choice. Strength is all I know. Life has thrown me some curves but nothing so severe as the stroke. The stroke ruined the 17-year relationship that falls under the category of “it was just a matter of time,” challenged my chance of ever speaking well enough to be a professor once more, and destroyed my hope of ever working in the law firm again. And still, I am here, smiling, when those who don’t know me wonder why. Sometimes I ask myself the same thing. But my strength rescues me, once again. (https://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/2013/may/01/stroke-survivors-emotional-impact)

1. My sons know the unconditional love I have for them, in 2017 and beyond. I wish them health, happiness, and peace in this new year. To my friends (you know who you are), who emotionally supported me, thank you greatly. And to my readers who now number over 300,000, I will always be grateful for the opportunity to educate, inspire, and mind-boggle you. This resolution is ongoing.

Christmas is Sunday and Hanukah begins Christmas Eve, but I want to get a head start on this post so Happy New Year to all!

Joyce Hoffman

Joyce Hoffman

Joyce Hoffman is one of the world's top 10 stroke bloggers according to the Medical News Today. You can find the original post and other blogs Joyce wrote in Tales of a Stroke Survivor. (https://talesofastrokesurvivor.blog)
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Joyce Hoffman
7 years ago

Rudyard, there are 15 million people who have strokes annually worldwide. Resurrect your blog! If you're like me, it feels cathartic! I have over 300,000 readers, but they didn't come at once. I've been writing this blog for over 5 years.

Joyce Hoffman
7 years ago

Wendi, I hear you. After writing this post and seeing the people's reactions, I'm still not there yet. Nobody, not even your husband, should tell you it's time to accept. I imagine I'll never accept the stroke. In my mind, acceptance means "at peace with it," and I am anything but.

7 years ago

I enjoyed reading your in the early days, (the first 12 months) I was looking for people like me, but I quickly learned that there very few.

Thank you for this post, it's helping me to decide resurrecting my blog.

7 years ago

I so needed to read this, my husband tells me all the time, you haven't accepted you had a stroke and you need to, bahhumbug on that.

Thank you Joyce for your words. Happy Holidays to you.

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