Sunday, January 11, 2015

If you're a stroke survivor...

...This is a good place to be. I notice this blog still get's hits. For you new visitors (and some old) feel free to peruse this blog if you are wondering about the first year or two after a major stroke. The first entry on this blog was written a week after his stroke in February 2008. This is good information-- I know cause I wrote it- hehe.

Not really it's good because my husband is an amazing man and he has climbed so many mountains to get to where he is now. We moved blogs a year ago, and you can follow us on our continuing journey at

And if you or someone you love is recovering from a stroke. Don't give up and don't get sad! There is so much you will learn about life and love that one day you could be glad instead of sad for such a difficult trial.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Space to grieve

I've noticed from the beginning that Will's grieving time frame always looked quite different from the way and time I grieved. I thought our time frames would sync back up after he regained his short term memory. It's been at least a year now that I feel like his short term memory is pretty much pre-stroke levels, and my hypothesis that we would sync up has fallen straight on it's face.

I'm sure this is not a surprise to many of our readers, but we all grieve differently. The other night something was really bothering Will. I threw in some assumptions about his sadness and then moved on to feel angry that he was sad-- I felt like, we don't have time to focus on the past, we have so much to do and need to move on. Well I was wrong. Will had already "grieved" over the loss of not becoming a doctor(for now). He was grieving about the new mess this solution has presented "who will take him in now?"It's really hard to get a job as a doctor, in another career field.

I guess my point is: First it is never OK for us to tell someone when they "should" be done grieving. We all need to move through our emotions in the timeframe that is right for us. Second, we should be aware of what is really bothering the said person. Problems and losses that we face are more complex than- "just get over it" or "just move on." We need to give people space to grieve so they can move on when the time is right for them. If that grieving process looks different than our own grief or lasts longer than our own grief than we need to be patient and understanding. I don't know if any of this information is earth shattering to you- but it was for me. It feels like something that is obvious but it is so hard to let people live and learn and not to step in. We all need space to grow. The best advice I can give myself is to "trust that the ones you love will make the right choices." As they are given that space to grow and experience loss and trial, they may have more self confidence because they "solved" their own problems. We can do hard things, and so can the people we love. Trust me ;)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Bringing hope

I've been thinking lately a lot about unfair stereotypes and judgements that keep people like Will from getting a job. I've had moments where I've wanted to take on all of the employers who have brushed past Will's resume.  I am convinced that we all have hidden insecurities that cause us to reject those less fortunate or less able. I wish I could wash that all away-- in fact I wish I could say that because my husband is at times unjustly judged, that I don't judge others unfairly.There is more need than ever to treat others fairly. Too many people live under a covering of misplaced labels and under-appreciated abilities. I know we can do better.  The next time you look the other way when you see hunger or misery- instead see value and bring hope. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Lost in the mix

There is the before and the after. Before Will did or was like this… after the stroke Will did or was like this… I admit that sometimes I obsess over what he was like before the stroke.

Will has always been an incredibly secure person. He never puts people down and he doesn't feel the need to boast about how he is better than any one. One day I was driving in the car with my honey and asked him-- have you ever had an identity crisis?  He laughed and said he didn't remember any growing up but that he was "having one now if that counts."  So much of who we are and how we treat one another stems from how we feel about ourselves. So much of what we feel about ourself can be influenced by how we perform in crowds, or scholastics, or sports, or you name it. So for someone like Will- who was a doctor and who now is not a doctor and not working in the medical field or any real field of worldly significance-- what must he feel? How must he feel? I  have to tell you my heart has broken more than once at some of the responses he has given me to this question. When I say this I'm not saying he hates himself or puts himself down-- but lets be honest sometimes he feels like he did something terribly wrong to deserve a stroke. Or sometimes he feels bad that he can't provide more for the family. So at the end of the day what really matters?

The more I live in this world -- with so many surprises and so many heartbreaks-- the more I realize that so many people feel very badly about themselves. The stroke, five years ago, could have been the beginning of a lot of anger and despair. I admit, unfortunately, it has caused some of that, but we are learning. Will is learning, to see his value in different ways than he saw it before. I think this takes courage. I hope that anyone reading this blog who feels torn down might learn to see themselves in a different way-- not in the way the world sees us, but the ways God sees us. We are wonderful. We are beautiful.  Stroke or no stroke, job or no job, single or married, married or divorced, content or depressed-- these things change us but they don't have to ruin us.  What really matters is you. Rise up to the challenge - and you'll see extraordinary things in your life.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


I want to talk for a minute about gender roles; and when I say gender roles I don't mean boys shouldn't cook and girls shouldn't play soccer. I'm talking about something that goes way back. I'm talking about the man who went out into the forest to hunt beasts, while his wife stayed at home and nourished the children. Physically and emotionally we are hardwired for certain roles. My son hardly notices when his younger brother is crying, but the minute my newborn spills a tear my niece, who is 18 months old, is so concerned. You're probably wondering what gender roles has to do with Will's recovery. Sitting in year five from the recovery -- I'm going to tell you it has a lot to do with it. If this would have happened to me, "a stay at home mom" the drama from the injury would have probably burned off about year two. The injury would only rear it's ugly head every once in a while after that. For Will, however, it is so much more difficult. He is hard wired to want to provide for me and the children. His identity is on the line. He said to me the other day… "I just don't know when this will be over…" I quickly recoiled with "It is over-- you're memory is back- your planning and functioning is restored. It's a miracle!"  I've learned, though, no matter what I say- until he can fulfill his provider role - he will never really feel complete. Society is also married to theses roles. I can't tell you how many new conversations start with "what does your husband do?"

I'm not putting down gender roles. I am especially not putting down roles we play in the family. I am so glad we have them. I am so much more complete as a mother and wife than I ever was as a single woman. I know Will  is happy as a father and husband, but he still feels the weight of the world whenever it comes to providing for the family. I can't take that away-- I wish I could. I'm glad he feels so strongly about his role and pray everyday that his desire can be filled. I am grateful, we can both work during the night so we can both work towards our more important roles during the day. Will in his strong desire to return to medicine in some form or another and my strong desires to raise children who love the Lord.

On this final note I want to wish you a Merry Christmas! I want to acknowledge the Saviors crucial role in the fabric of our society. In doing so I'll reference one of my favorite Christmas carols. The songwriter was inspired by the true story of a solider who had been injured in the civil war, and had recently lost his wife due to an accidental fire.

I heard the bells on Christmas day-- "there is no peace on earth," I said; 
For hate is strong and mocks the song 
Of peace on earth, good will towards towards man. 
Then Pealed the bells more loud and deep
'God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail
The Right prevail
With peace on earth, good-will to men"

I know feeling and having peace at this time, when so much is wrong in the world, is only possible because of our Lord and Savior. This Christmas Season I praise Him for His lowly birth and infinite atoning sacrifice.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


My dear friend's mother is currently recovering from a hemorrhage in her brain. Everything is so new for their family. Everything is so unknown. When I read about her recovery, I can see with renewed clarity my husband's earlier recovery. The things that really bothered me at first - don't really even seem like issues now. I would get so frustrated, for example, when I would tell him something and then an hour later it is like the conversation never happened. I put pressure on him (aka myself) to make him all better. I pushed him and at times lectured him to work on his memory or executive function or planning. Sometimes this pushing lead to disagreements and ended with us in tears. Often it seemed like, the very next day the cycle would repeat itself "Will I told you to work on this..." or "Will we talked about this…" I guess I'm saying these things for a few reasons. First, I found out really quick that as powerful as individual my husband or I am- you can't rush recovery. You shouldn't rush it either. Secondly, you can help recovery. As I watch my friend's family struggle, I pray that they might know that it's only a moment in time. That the best way to help a recovery is not push it- but support it.

When I was really negative about how things were going- Will's recovery seemed to slow down. But when I was positive and reassuring-- things seemed to pick up. I think these are really good principles to live by even if you're not recovering from a stroke. There is nothing a bad mood won't make worse. I believe faith is such an integral part of the scriptures for this very reason: If we believe and then act upon these beliefs the Lord can and will support us in our trials. But if we lack faith than he cannot bless us with those things we desperately need. I wish having faith was a lot easier than it is. It is so much easier to give into doubt and disbelief. Easier to feel sorry for yourself than it is to love yourself. Rising up and believing against the odds have brought me more blessings in my life than I can count. I love my Savior. I love Him for all that He has given me. I love my husband for the faith he shows everyday in the face of such difficult times. And of course I can't help but count my other two great blessings, Ben and James. They are my everything. These are truly great times. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Recovery: the regaining of or possibility of regaining something lost or taken away.  

I think of the definition of recovery and I feel like it really applies to more than just health. Sometimes Will and I feel cheated- like his career as a doctor was "taken away," and as we talk about his recovery we are really talking about restoring his career before the stroke. His mind before the injury.  But when we think of things in this way- sometimes we're angry or hurt about the "recovery" or maybe lack thereof. Don't get me wrong-- Will has and continues to experience a miraculous recovery. We are thankful everyday for his working memory and planning abilities (because at one time they were non existent). But as far as recovering a career and a means to provide for his family-- we're still working or hoping to regain this. 

I guess I'm saying this today because I realize it is easy to be angry. Angry that five years after the stroke we are still in survival mode, and not "flourishing" in a career. But five years is a long time to be angry and hurt, is it really worth the energy? If I could give some advice to individuals in similar circumstances it would be, move through your anger and grief at the things you have lost when you need to, but spend more of your time focusing on the things you do have instead of the things you wish you still had.

As for Will and I we're happy as clams with our two boys and little apartment. Ben is talking up a storm and James is smiling everyday. I'm grateful for our boys, I'm grateful for Will. We're grateful for our jobs and we're glad we are together-- these realities make the harder realities bearable.