It was almost a year ago while minding my business and at the end of what seemed to be a normal day, I was stricken with a stroke. Doctors said it was a “small” stroke but it has made a major difference in my life.
I was blessed to not have most of the issues that stroke victims have – no headaches, no speech problems, no vision problems, and no notable facial drooping. I did have weakness on my right side and the inability to use my right arm and leg. When I woke up that day I did not imagine how it would end or that I would spend almost the next 8 weeks in hospitals and rehab facilities.
Wheel chair bound and having to ask to be taken to the bathroom was my start. Hard headed I listened to what doctors were saying but I never imagined being less than what I was before the stroke. When I was wheel chair bound I imagined being able to walk with a cane. Each day I pleaded with the therapist to leave one in my room so I could practice. Eventually one day she “forgot” and left one there. Once I became comfortable (in my mind) with the cane and before the therapist thought I was ready I started taking steps without the cane. Scolded for walking around the rehab center without the cane I became more frustrated but more determined and somewhat sneaky. I felt that it was my body and if I fell it was my business. Fortunately, I never fell at the rehab. I could notimagine being cane bound.
Now I am almost 11 months post stroke. I go where I want to go on my own 2 feet. No cane or wheel chair! My walk is not pretty yet. It is getting easier and easier to walk up and down hills and to climb on and off metro buses and the subway. I am also a professional photographer taking pictures again – probably better than I did before. People see me on the streets and probably feel sorry for me and think I have it so bad but they have no idea what I looked like a few months ago nor can they imagine how great I will be walking next month which will be 1 year post stroke. I can imagine it!
Do you have an ailment or situation and know that you are going to do better? You just can’t imagine anything less!
Lonnie Dawkins is a portrait and event photographer based in Washington, DC