I was extolling the virtues of my blog yesterday, just as a way of recording progress. So it seemed a good idea to actually record some!
I look back and the time after the stroke felt "foggy". With hindsight, not at the time. This feels quite clear now - although as I say, at the time, it has always felt pretty clear. The stroke obviously damaged me physically, but mentally, I feel healed. I'm just on 2½ years downstream.
Physically, I'm getting quite near to full range of movement back in my bad arm. By that, I mean that I still need to use my good arm to lift it, but I can quite happily put it on and behind my head before it starts to hurt. I obviously use the bad arm less and naturally, your body has a tendency to seize up if you don't exercise it. So I do e.g. stretches every day to maintain suppleness.
With my walking, I can't put my finger on anything specific, but I'm sure my walking has improved. My stamina, in particular. And I'm quicker - I have a walking pole, and when I use that, I'm quicker still - I can use it just like a ski pole to push myself along. But I don't like to use the pole because I want to get back to how I was, which includes walking unaided.
My stamina has improved. Really, the first trick of the recovery is knowing that when you run out of puff, you just need to stop for a minute, then you can carry on. When I was first ill, for example, I would walk to the end of the road, one seat at a time. Now, I'm able to stay standing, and take fewer breaks (though usually not no breaks, yet). But by doing that 50 yards at a time, I can get myself 100, 200, 400, 800 yards etc. eventually.
My overall health has improved to the point where I'm starting to think of the "little" things once again. I went to the opticians last week, for example. I'm probably going to get to the dentist next. I mean, opticians and dentists will no doubt argue that they're not little things, but given that I was once at the stage where the option was life or death....
In terms of life, I have been deliberately sharpening myself up technically. I have 20 years' experience in IT, and realistically, that's the only area where I could still command a premium. My other qualification, as a bike mechanic, didn't really give me a comfortable life even before I was disabled. To that end, I have spent my working days trying to be disciplined, sitting in front of the computer all day, doing "work"-type stuff, with the tv off, until 5 or 5:30pm. Of course, distractions get in the way, for example we go shopping every Monday, but in general...
At the moment I'm looking at the Entity Framework, by the way!
I mean, none of this has as much value as when you're working on a commercial project and get to know all the ins and outs of something, but at least it means no blank stare when somebody starts to talk about it. In truth, I have looked at EF commercially too, but the conclusion back then was that it wasn't a sufficiently mature technology at that time. And my experience of commercial projects was that different resources (e.g. database and application resources) would frequently work on a project at different times, and unless you had someone who had a bird's-eye view of what was required, there was often a disjoint. I remember working with one particularly poor analyst once, who specified things sufficiently badly that we had to ask the database resource to do everything again. She (the resource) was unsurprisingly miffed, but what can you do?
So alongside this sharpening process, I've also got my CV live and am looking daily for jobs. The trouble is, in Salisbury there was never much IT to speak of, and what there is will probably be nowhere near as leading-edge as I was used to. From an employer's perspective, I could well imagine them thinking, "holy crap!" when they look at my CV. And possibly thinking that I'd want to walk in and take over the place! Of course, there is a flip-side in that somebody will ultimately get to use my skills quite cheaply, if they're prepared to take the gamble.
I have also said I will spend a half-day per week helping Age UK with their telephone befriending service, although I will get some of that time back because I've decided to stop going to the stroke peer support group. When I first started going around the hospital ward, I was amazed that people got any value out of some guy just going round and chatting to them informally, but they did. I'm kinda similarly amazed that people see value in my picking up a phone and talking to them, but at the same time, I'm not, because it is basically the same thing.
The danger is, of course, that the charity work and the job aspirations will come crashing together at some point, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
Anyway, for now, I need to wrap this post up because it is 9am and time to start work!
BEFORE YOU START: Please note that although I currently volunteer for both the Stroke Association and Age UK, the views expressed in this blog are strictly my own. I am not a spokesperson for either (or, indeed, for any) organisation, and I accept complete responsibility for the views expressed herein. I've tried to use the Glossary to explain any ambiguous terms, but if you think there is anything I've missed, please message me.