So, I want to write a bit of a general post sort of filling in the rest of the Summer of 2012, then I think I will switch to writing on specific topics rather than continuing a chronological story because, continuing any further with this blog means talking about something I live rather than something I lived. I haven’t quite decided how I’m going to approach it yet, but first things first.
My first public appearance after getting out of the hospital came the day after my release when my middle son graduated from Safety Town, a program for soon-to-be-kindergarteners that teaches about police and fire safety. It’s terrible for me to say that I have very little idea how my son had been attending the class for the previous week. Someone took him. Someone picked him up. I attended the graduation in a high school gym. It was my first experience with crowds. I did not enjoy it. I remember the scarf kept slipping off my head and I was self-conscious. But I was there.
The day after that was a Saturday and we took a drive . . .a long drive . . .to Springfield about an hour away . . .to see a puppy. The little bit of a puppy who would be our Duncan was not ready to come home with us and we weren’t ready to bring him, but we wanted to meet him. I’m not sure what the breeders (an older couple) made of me looking so obviously sick with my sunken chest, my head scarf and my leg brace. I think we gave them a very abbreviated version of my story. Then we visited with the little ball of fluff for half an hour. My eldest and youngest were quite taken with him. My middle son was more taken with the pinball machine in their basement.
In early July, I started outpatient Rehab. I don’t have much to say about it. I had only one Speech Therapy meeting. She gave me the go ahead for staying home unattended with the kids. We still used the sitter on the nights Matt taught through July. I can’t say I enjoyed having her in my space and I also remembered from my own days as a babysitter how awkward it was to try and watch the kids with their parents around, but we stayed out of each other’s way. Her name was Maria and she was a sweet thing, but I really just wanted to get back to me and my kids even though I wasn’t quite up to chasing after them for dinner and bedtime by myself those nights.
OT focused on strengthening my left hand and “driving skills” which was apparently showing me a bajillion bizarre line drawings, then breaking them into pieces and turning them different directions and asking me to identify them. Not my favorite thing. My PT focused on my gait. My biggest issue in the eyes of my PT Karen was that I hyperextended my knee. This would cause trouble down the road, she insisted. To be honest, I can deal with a knee replacement in twenty years. I could tell, though, that much of that hyperextension was the result of the AFO. It helped stabilize my foot and ankle, but hindered my knee. So, in late August or early September, I simply stopped wearing the AFO and continued Rehab for my last couple of months without it. I’ve never gone back to the AFO, although there are times I wish I hadn’t lost it. My foot drop flares and I’ve been told that if I put the AFO back on when it did, it would help. Oh well, losing it was fallout from our other major event.
We had tried to get “back on the wagon” with showing the house, but it had been up for more than 3 months without an offer. That area of Columbus is still depressed real-estate wise and it was looking like we would have to take a loss and bring money to the table if we wanted to sell. We didn’t have the money to do that. In theory, if the house didn’t sell, we were going to stay put for another year, but all of this had just reinforced how much we wanted and needed to be in Clintonville where are church and school community (who was still feeding us on the two nights a week Matt worked) was located. So we did something we had agreed we absolutely wouldn’t do when we first talked about selling (before brain tumors and strokes changed everything). We decided to keep the house and rent it out. We juggled the financing and went FHA instead of traditional, put an offer in on a much less expensive house in Clintonville than what we had been looking at previously and ended up in our current house. We closed at the end of August and moved over Labor Day weekend.
I wish I could say things went smoothly at the old house, but they didn’t. We had originally wanted a property management firm to take care of it, but they weren’t motivated to find a tenant and in the 60 days they slacked off and let it sit vacant while we paid two mortgages, our front door was kicked in and all of our copper was stolen. So, we ended up posting on Craig’s List and finding a tenant who was willing to move within 2 weeks. She signed a 2-year-lease and has worked out great. Managing two properties is not what we planned or wanted, but it will work as long as we need it to.
I did not go back to teaching Fall 2012. Our semester starts in mid-August and I didn’t have clearance to drive yet. My meeting with the neurologist who could give me the go ahead was around Aug. 21st and I believe the kids’ first day of school was the 27th. I was terrified that he would make me take some sort of test. It was bad enough that my license had expired on my birthday in early August, forcing me to renew when bald and braced. I about had a heart attack when I failed the vision exam on the first try. It was my peripheral vision on my left that kept getting me. The BMV didn’t know I had a stroke. They didn’t know I had struggled with left neglect. They let me try again. The second try, I looked up and over my new glasses for half of the exam, realizing that the armbands of the glasses were interfering with my vision. I passed. Phew. Then I had a complete emotional meltdown in the car with Matt. Par for the course.
Anyway, I was afraid the neurologist would make me take some sort of extra test or training, but he simply asked if I’d had any seizures since my release, gave me another prescription for keppra and gave me the ok to start driving. I had a week to get used to driving again before my kids’ started school. Then I had three days, I think, of picking them up (my second son had started K) and driving them before we moved over Labor Day weekend and my pickup time dropped from 15-20 minutes to 2 minutes.
With the move to Clintonville, we re-oriented our entire lives to this side of town. After a couple of months of half-assed attempts to get back into it, we pulled our eldest son out of martial arts. No more Martial Arts Mom. He played soccer through the school and basketball through the Community Center like all of his school friends. If he misses martial arts, he hasn’t said much about it.
So that’s where we were as Fall 2012 began. I want to write about my changing social circle, about my withdrawal (somewhat forced) from longtime “real life” friends who knew the “old” me and my immersion into the land of Facebook friends and groups where they can’t see my anxiety and my physical/verbal awkwardness. I will write about how that came back to bite me in the ass and resulted in the creation of an entirely separate secondary Facebook identity. I will write about anxiety attacks and being nearly crippled with fear. I went back to teaching for the Spring Semester of 2013 and I will write about that, too. I will write about the love/hate relationship I have with my handicapped placard. I will write about the nightmare that was potty training a puppy and an obstinate 2-3 year old at the same time. So stay tuned, loyal readers, we aren’t done by a longshot.