Hug Your Survivor Today

The month of May is Stroke Awareness Month and so every year since my stroke I usually like to try to get the word out about the signs and symptoms of stroke either by talking about it with friends or posting articles and information. Sometimes it can be a difficult task though because nobody in their 20s, 30s or even in their 40s or 50s don’t want to think that stroke could happen to you. And getting people to take stroke seriously can be like getting someone in their 20s to open a 401k – “I’m too young for that.” Sadly, you could be wrong.

Before it sounds like I’m launching into another heavy post like the last one, I’m really trying not to. While this essay will be about strokes, it’s also about some cool and exciting stuff that I’ve been working on lately.

The website has sounded like crickets this past month but mostly that’s because of all of the stuff offline, a.k.a., real life. Spring sports, band concerts and banquets are always a busy time for the end of the school year, but there’s also yard work, garden weeding, cleaning my disorganized, filthy garage, harping on my husband to finish the projects around the house and this year I’ve added to the list of working on some new art. All of that doesn’t give much time for serious contemplation on writing essays. But considering it’s Stroke Awareness Month it’s time to share some things.

As you already know, in 2009 I launched Revelry Press as a small, handmade goods boutique online. An old, dear friend of mine, Casey Taylor, was my first customer when I was first starting out, and I’m still deeply indebted for all the support that I continued to receive from friends, family, and ultimately, strangers, from the Internet all over the world. It was lots of fun and it was going pretty good when that pesky thing called money got in the way. Damn you, mortgage! But it wasn’t just about money, there were lots of personal reasons that I had to put the business on the shelf for a very long time. But like the immortal words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, I had said at the time in 2010, “I’ll be back.”

And well, I’m back. But not like the gun-toting Terminator. I like a slow pace these days. Real slow.

Most of my favorite items will still be back in the online shop. Whether I will still be physically vending on craft fairs anymore is still on the fence. There are some cognitive limitations that make vending difficult for me, but maybe I could get some help. The online shop is less difficult. Some of the new handmade items that I’ll be posting and selling soon will include coasters, trivets, frames, prints, personal chalkboards, and kitchen towels. If you click on this link you will see the quality and the look of all of our sold items. All of that is all coming soon!

But for now, as something new, I created an item with the intention to honor my other fellow stroke survivors:

StrokeCoaster

The coaster will be posted and on sale soon and a percentage of the proceeds will be sent to groups and organizations that will help to promote stroke awareness. I’m a huge advocate for stroke awareness because truly, if I had been aware of the signs and symptoms of stroke, I may not have experienced the same outcome. Without getting into the whole story of the 24 hours around my stroke, I was briefly paralyzed on my right side and couldn’t speech correctly on 11am on a Friday, and it wasn’t until 9am until Saturday morning that we left for the ER. Why is the time that I went to the hospital important? It’s important because there is a drug called, tPA, that if it is administered within 3 hours of your stroke, it can almost reverse the effects from your stroke. More important about tPA is found here.

Clearly, the first preventive for stroke is to have a good lifestyle but sometimes we can’t prevent them even when we are healthy, and making everyone aware of the signs and symptoms of stroke will get them to the hospital sooner.

I’m proud of my design not because I need to be constantly reminded that I had a stroke but to remind me that I survived. But survivorship is not just that you have lived, but that you have survived the indignity of being labeled as a pre-existing condition, months of speech therapy to speak a whole sentence again, months of occupational therapy to walk again, the loss of friends and family members, the loss of a career, just to list a few. And we are not statistics, numbers, percentages or high-risk pools, we are human beings.

The thing about the stroke is, I literally lost 4 years of my life. And I don’t say that for pity, it’s just the truth. I’ve already been pissed for a long time of all the things that I may have missed because of it but I’m not pissed anymore. And just because I’m not pissed anymore doesn’t mean that my recovery is now over, I will be recovering for the rest of my life, I’m just simply talking about the emotional part. The emotional part is no longer as raw and my feelings can be processed logically now.

And so maybe that’s why I feel like it’s a good time for me to be “back”. I ask myself why I’m getting into this again but there is no answer other than to say that I like to make things with my hands. And it’s great therapy for me. Eventually you have to re-start your life again and that’s what makes a survivor. Ask the survivor in your life and hug them today. We’ve all survived something – cancer, an accident, a disease, a loss of a loved one, a divorce, an assault, a broken heart – so hug yourself today, too, and know that you are a better person because of it.

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