What My Stroke Taught Me – Part 2

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May is National Stroke Awareness Month, so it feels like the right time to talk about what I learned from having a stroke – someone with zero risk factors. In part 1, I shared the moment the stroke happened. Here in part 2, I’ll share what came after and what I learned from being a stroke survivor.

So where were we…

I had a stroke in the parking lot of Whole Foods 42 minutes after a great 10-mile run on my favorite trail. I had been training for a half marathon. I painstakingly made my way back to my truck. The symptoms seemed to subside. I drove myself home. In hindsight, not the brightest idea of mine but we’ll put that in the bucket with the rest of them.

I walked into the house feeling out of sorts but keenly aware that my kids were home. My 19-year-old son was on his way out the door to work. I waved bye and told him to have a great day with a new lopsided smile. My 17-year-old daughter came around the corner and asked how my run went. I said, in what was I hoped was a neutral voice, “I think I had a stroke. I’m going to call an Uber and go to the hospital. Just to be safe. Nothing for you to worry about. But I have to shower first.”

Needless to say, she said absolutely NOT to the Uber and insisted on driving me. I didn’t argue with her. But I did shower. I’d just run 10 miles in 65-degree weather. I figured I had time, I remembered reading you had 3-4 hours to get to the hospital and get the “stroke drug.” Rightly or wrongly, as a runner, I am extremely dialed into my body and trust my instincts. I knew and felt in my bones that I had at least time for a quick shower. (If, in fact, I was even having the stroke that every fiber in my being told me I was having, which seemed inconceivable, given that I ate healthy, ran 30 miles a week, and did all the right things.)

Taking time to shower was a bad idea, as I was later told by the healthcare professionals who treated me. If you even THINK you are having a stroke, get your ass, no matter how sweaty, to the hospital ASAP. Call 9-1-1.

Duly noted.

The Hospital

It was a reality TV montage of moments forever seared into every fiber of my being that I can never run fast or far enough to forget.

Continue reading “What My Stroke Taught Me – Part 2”

What Having a Stroke Taught Me – Part 1

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Grateful to be here with these goofballs

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. The COVID-19 pandemic is at the forefront of the world’s concerns at this moment, rightly so, and all the more reason to highlight how important it is to listen to your body when you are not feeling well or right.

As they say, life is what happens when you are making other plans.

It was Saturday, August 10, 2019 and my plan was training for my half marathon in October. I had just finished a 10-mile run at my favorite trail. I had been traveling a lot for work domestically and internationally. I had a million things to catch up on now that I was home for a whole week before I had to fly out again. I was elated to be home with my kids and my dog, out running on a beautiful sunny day, surrounded by trees and blue skies.

It was the bestest day. 🙂

I sat in my truck afterwards, like I always do. I drank the right amount of water, consumed my favorite gluten- and dairy-free Evolve chocolate protein shake, ate my banana. I was doing all the right things. I was happy with my run. I even posted this on Instagram:

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W4D6 Fall half marathon training. Slow, easy, intentional miles today. Observations from the trail: keep your 👀 peeled for horse 💩. Don’t breathe in when the pack of sweaty, stinky, shirtless high school boys run by. Hold your Intended pace even when everyone else is running faster than you (which for me is almost always😊). Needed these miles in this place today. I’m traveling a lot for work. It’s crazy busy. I’m stuck in rooms with no windows. I’m worried about two of my dearest people. My house is a mess and we are out of groceries. Again. I miss my friends and dancing and being out on my bike and summer is winding down and I’m not ready, dammit!! So I went for a run. I let my mind focus only on the mile at hand. I walked when I needed to and ran fast when I wanted to. Later I’m going to take my best girl shopping for cute back-to-school clothes and out for a nice dinner. Maybe we’ll even see a movie. The rest can wait. But first, an ice soak for my feet. 😏 Happy Saturday everybody!! Do what you love most today. ❤️

A post shared by Christy Miles (@cmileswriter) on

Twenty minutes later, I drove to Whole Foods as I always do after a Saturday long run. It’s my reward – once a month I splurge on my favorite organic vegetables, fruit, salsa, and pre-prepared meals like grilled rosemary chicken. It’s nice to have someone else cook for me. 🙂  I had a craving for organic oranges that day.

I parked, put my glasses on, got out, and began walking toward the store entrance. The sun was so bright it hurt my eyes. I felt like I was standing in a lava lamp. The world shifted and morphed in goo. If you’ve ever had vertigo, it felt kinda like that. But different. Worse. Sickeningly worse.

I thought – oh. Maybe I put my glasses on too fast and the change in perception is making me nauseous. I went to take my glasses off. But nothing happened.

“My arm won’t move. That’s weird.”

Continue reading “What Having a Stroke Taught Me – Part 1”

New Year Wishes and Other Lamb Tales

sheep-1822137_1920As the year draws to a close, I find myself not thinking about the usual things: resolutions, themes, goals, expectations, things I’ll do or change, things I’ll give up, lose or find. I am thinking instead about acceptance.

While I’ve focused a lot on letting go in previous years – letting go of a marriage, a job, behaviors, things and people that no longer work for me – I’ve found that this year, I’ve had to learn to accept a lot, too.

This hit home for me recently as I sat on the couch across from Yoda (code name for my trusty therapist). I was lamenting why I couldn’t be tougher in a particular situation, as tough as the others in it seemed to be. Yoda resorts to his lamb/wolf analysis – that some people are lambs, more gentle and sensitive in nature, hating to let others down or see them upset, while others are wolves, more driven, aggressive, direct, challenging, not caring as much about others as the lambs, etc.

The conversation went something like this: Continue reading “New Year Wishes and Other Lamb Tales”

Losing Weight, Getting in Shape and Living the Life You Deserve

 

I remember the day I decided to commit to getting back into shape. It was March 18, 2011, a day like any other day, except that on THIS day, I sat up on the couch, put down a box of Lofthouse Sugar Cookies, and silently said to no one in particular:

“I’m so sick and tired of feeling this way! ENOUGH!!”

I was 41 years old, 20-some pounds over my ideal weight – ideal being what my doctor suggested at my annual checkup earlier that day – and I felt miserable. I told him how tired I was all the time and felt old AF, everything hurt, and it felt like I was wearing a heavy blanket of sad, anxious and…meh. I remember saying – I’m too young to feel like this. Right??

My doctor said, “Well, things do start changing in your 40’s.” We talked for a while as he wrote up an order for all the regular blood tests, including checking my thyroid (I’ve had Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis since I was 23; weight gain and sadness/anxiety/meh are often symptoms). Then he handed me a prescription for an antidepressant. As I stared at it in disbelief, he said, in a kind, non-judgmental way, “You know, you always felt better when you were working out.”

When he left the room, I sat on that exam table and tried really, really hard not to cry.

This was the first time I had ever opened up to someone about this particular struggle. It’s interesting how, when someone tells you (however kindly) what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear, it strikes a nerve chord. On the way home, I thought about how I’d gotten here. Sure, I’d been busy with life like everyone else. And I’d always been a six-month on, four-month off kind of workout gal. I’d get good momentum going, but then life would happen and working out became a “nice to have” and disappeared from the list of priorities.

And Yet…
I knew the exact moment that I’d fallen off the health/fitness wagon hard this time. Continue reading “Losing Weight, Getting in Shape and Living the Life You Deserve”

Finding Your Fire: How One Little Thing Can Change Everything

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Tonight I lit my first fire in my second rental house since my divorce four years ago (looks good, yes?). Not a big thing on the surface. But it’s my first house with a fireplace in 11 years. I was married then. I grew up with a fireplace. In both homes, either my dad or my then husband always lit the fire. My dad did it because, well, I was a kid. My ex did it because…that’s the way it was. (Yeah, yeah, I know – that’s for another blog post.)

I’ve been ready to light this fire since I moved in last June. One of the first things I did was get the fireplace inspected. Safety first! When fall came, I went to Home Depot and got the fireplace tools, a screen, built the tool rack with that stupid little gadget thing they always give you in DIY kits. I picked up a bundle of wood. I was READY. And then…

Christmas came and went. No fire. 

I kept telling my kids, “Hey! Maybe we should light a fire tonight!” But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I told myself it was because I was afraid of looking like an idiot in front of them if I couldn’t get it going (our first campfire fiascos and my ineptitude with cooking over a fire are still fresh in my memory – suffice to say the hamburgers melted through the tripod grill thingy and we ended up eating potatoes for dinner.)

Except there is a YouTube video for everything these days, as I realized when my radiator went out on the road last summer, and duh, DuraFlame. So…why am I waiting to light my first fire on Easter? April Fool’s Day, no less? But it is 32 degrees in Chicago tonight…and then it hit me:

This is another first. 

I thought I was done with those, but I am coming to learn that those never end. They just Continue reading “Finding Your Fire: How One Little Thing Can Change Everything”