one year ago today

On Sunday 31st January, 2010, I rose early, and went for a run. Then Mel and I drove up North to have lunch with an elderly relative of hers, and pick up Mel’s new spinning wheel. We had a very pleasant, crafty time. I was dealing with a disagreeable situation at work, and it was good to have a few hours in which I wasn’t preoccupied with such things. I came home, had supper with Tom, uploaded a few photos, wrote a short blog post, and went to bed.

On February 1st, I got up at 5.30, as I normally did on a Monday morning. I felt nothing peculiar, except that I was, in myself, considerably more edgy than usual, because of two difficult meetings that I had to face that day. At 6.20, I put on my coat, slung two bags across my shoulders (one full of work, the other full of knitting) and set off on the two-mile journey to Waverley station. Outside, it was dark and bitterly cold. I quickened my pace. As I walked along the cycle path, I reflected on the day ahead. My first meeting was going to be particularly problematic because of the presence of an unpleasant individual. I reflected on previous meetings involving this individual; I rehearsed, in my mind, our forthcoming exchanges. As Tom or Mel or my parents will attest, over previous weeks, this person had pretty much made my working life a misery. I repeatedly went over the situation, the meeting, its difficulties, its possible outcomes. Useless, pointless, thoughts went round and round and round in my mind. I was extremely tense and agitated.

Then, suddenly, I felt as if a gun had gone off in my head. This is not to say that I heard a noise, rather that I felt a severe jolt from behind, a massive physical kaboom. My legs collapsed underneath me, and I fell to the ground. I immediately became aware of a peculiar and very powerful sensation, as if the whole world was fizzing or buzzing, but, at the same time, I felt incredibly distant from my body. Indeed, everything seemed weirdly detached, and the peculiar buzzing simply added to the detachment, blocking out the world like the white noise of a radio. I did not panic. I did not think: holy shit, what on earth has happened here? I felt very strange indeed, but I also felt strangely calm. I had landed rather awkwardly on the frosty ground. I tried to move, but I couldn’t. Ah, no worries, I thought. Someone will come along soon enough and give me a hand. In front of me I could see a lamp-post. and behind it, a bend in the path. I waited. I started to feel rather cold. Then, after a few moments, a man in hi-vis running gear, and a black spaniel with a flashing collar, appeared around the bend. I tried to call out, I tried to say, I can’t get up, can you help me? But my tongue seemed too big for my mouth and I just burbled uselessly. No problem, I thought to myself, I’m obviously just getting really cold. The man stopped, and bent down to help me. I reached up toward him with my right hand, and he reached down and pulled. It was at that point that I realised that there was something terribly amiss, and that, just like my mouth, my body appeared to have stopped working. The man gently helped me to lie down. There was the lamp-post in front of me again. And there was the dog with its flashing collar. It investigated me in the lollopy, snuffly way that spaniels do. It burrowed its head under the crook of my arm. It licked my face. Its collar flashed off and on. Off and on. It was a nice dog. Everything was all right. I don’t think I lost consciousness, but my recollection of things from this point on is rather hazy. I felt extremely cold, and this seemed to be all that I could think about. The weird fizzing and buzzing was now incredibly intense, and was accompanied by a violent, physical shaking. The man said “Don’t worry. I’m a GP. They are going to take you to the Western General.” I could hear fear in his voice, but I did not feel afraid. Some other people arrived, and covered me with their coats. A woman’s voice said “I’ll get off now that the ambulance is coming, is that alright?” The dog was there. Its collar flashed off and on. Everything was fine.

I had suffered two serious strokes, but I didn’t know that yet. For why on earth should I, a healthy thirty-six year old woman have a stroke? I walked everywhere, and was fit and active; I had never suffered any sort of serious physical illness, and my blood pressure had always been on the low side of normal. But I was unaware that I had an atrial septal defect — a hole in my heart — that had failed to close up after I was born. While I slept on Sunday night, my blood generated a couple of perfectly ordinary clots in my legs. Then, as I began to walk briskly to the station that Monday morning, my heart began to pump away. Meanwhile, I was reflecting on an extremely stressful situation, and winding myself up with anxious thoughts. As a consequence of this, my blood pressure, from its usual low point, rose very swiftly. The clots in my legs became dislodged, and, because of the dramatic rise in blood pressure, were diverted from their usual journey around the venous system (where they would have been broken up by my lungs). Instead, the clots pumped through the hole in my heart into my arteries, and were then carried up toward my brain. One clot ended up in my right temporal lobe, messing with my ability to apprehend and process sound. The other blocked off the blood supply to my right frontal lobe, severely damaging that part of my brain. The memory map of the left side of my body had been erased, and I was now half-paralysed.

Sudden rises in blood pressure present a very serious stroke risk. In fact, recent studies have shown that dramatic fluctuations in blood pressure from low to high are just as pertinent a stroke risk as persistent hypertension. There is also some evidence to suggest that, just like heart attacks, in people of working age disproportionate numbers of ischemic strokes occur on Monday mornings. I was a young woman with low blood pressure and apparently excellent physical health. But I was also unlucky enough to have a leaky hole in my heart about which I knew nothing. On that Monday morning, my blood pressure spiked dramatically because of stressful thoughts about a work-related situation that seems, with hindsight, completely inconsequential. But this inconsequential situation had devastating consequences. I had a serious stroke because of two random blood clots, some annoying stressful thoughts, and a congenital heart condition.

On that Monday morning, a bulldozer rudely and abruptly ploughed through the middle of my life. I was transformed from an able-bodied, energetic, active woman into a wonky, exhausted, brain-damaged one. One moment I was a lecturer, walking to work, and worrying about the day that lay ahead. The next, I was a paralysed lump in a wheelchair, having her own shit wiped off her hands. At about 6.30am on the morning of February 1st, 2010, I became a person who was recovering from a stroke.

In English, the word “stroke” is a strange one, doubly suggesting (as it does) a gentle gesture and a catastrophic blow. I can assure you that only the latter sense of the word prevails when a couple of blood clots end up in your brain. A stroke casually smashes up your sense of self. Most people who’ve written about the experience say something similar, and I think that because it is so damned sudden; because its effects are so evil and disabling; and most of all because it involves the brain, it messes with the basic concept of who you think you are. It draws a line across the sand of your identity. That was who you were then, it says. So, who are you now?

One year later, I am still a person who is recovering from a stroke. For the foreseeable future, I will continue to be a person who is recovering from a stroke. Believe me, there is nothing histrionic in the statement that my life has changed forever. I feel a little peculiar all of the time. If I didn’t constantly ‘manage’ my energy, I would be in a state of permanent exhaustion. I still lose two days out of every ten to post-stroke fatigue. I have a droopy left shoulder, a weak left arm, and a left leg that, despite what I regard as its pretty much miraculous abilities, refuses to move when it is cold, and spasms uncontrollably when I am standing still. I find it difficult to filter out foreground from background noise, and simply cannot concentrate in situations where lots of people are talking. An evening in a noisy pub, or among a group of chatty knitters, has become a form of minor torture. My relationship with sound and music has altered radically, perhaps forever. Though Tom no longer has to turn me over in bed, get me in and out of the bath, or plait my hair (badly), I am still far more dependent on him than any ‘normal’ partner would be. Looking at me now, you would see someone who seems more or less the ‘old’ me, with a limp and a wonky leg. But you might not see the new me, the one who is totally knackered all the time, who can’t really hear what you are saying, and who is still dealing with a serious brain injury.

But the ‘new’ me is a newly appreciative person, too. To be frank, I am more proud of myself for getting through this crappy time than I am about anything else I have ‘achieved,’ academically or otherwise. I would rather not have discovered in quite this way that I am a stupidly determined individual, but I am still very glad that I am one. There is certainly something in the cliché that being close to death makes you appreciate life much more intensely. Personally, I have found that there is nothing Pollyana-ish about this: rather, it is the stubborn clinging to existence of a character in a Beckett play. One must just keep clinging, keep on going. And one must cling to those who are close to one as well.

I could not have clung to anyone better than Tom. He is a wonderful, truly lovely man. There is a terror in the prospect of permanent disability and brain injury, but if you love and are loved by someone unquestioningly, then you feel much less afraid. This fearfulness is seriously one of the worst things I’ve had to deal with in the past twelve months (trust me, the effects of neurological damage are very frightening indeed), but the only way to fight it is to draw strength and encouragement from those around you, and put everything you’ve got into getting well. Because I was so utterly desperate to knit and walk and read and be me again, I found recovery to be largely a positive process, (albeit an uneven and incredibly difficult one) and it has felt like a genuine privilege to see the way that the brain adapts and works from the inside, as it were. Seeing a dead limb – a limb that has completely lost its brain-map – flicker into life again for the first time, and knowing that some neurons have fired in your head in a way they never have before to make that movement happen, is a quite miraculous thing. Gaining insight into the basic operations of my grey matter made me reflective and philosophical in a completely new way. Now, I really do think that there is only the brain.

I can’t tell you how much I wish I hadn’t had a stroke. But, in many ways, the experience has been both salutary and instructive. Unless we have the great good fortune to go suddenly, while at the crease (like the father of a friend of mine), every single one of us is going to have to deal with the effects of a stroke, or serious disease, or disability, at some point in our lives. We are going to struggle, and see those we are close to struggle alongside us. We will need help from others, and we will have to draw on what reserves of strength we have to help ourselves. Tom and I have often reflected on how very like bereavement dealing with my stroke has been: being bereaved doesn’t make a subsequent death any easier necessarily, but at least you sort of know what to expect. Having been through this shit once, I think we can probably deal with it when life throws it at us, as it inevitably will, again.

I’ll conclude with some lines from Adrienne Rich’s brave, spare, poem, Shooting Script which have often been in my mind over the past year.

“Whatever it was, the image that stopped you, the one on which you
came to grief, projecting it over & over on empty walls.

Now to give up the temptations of the projector; to see instead the
web of cracks filtering across the plaster.

To read there the map of the future, the roads radiating from the
initial split, the filaments thrown out from that impasse.

To reread the instructions on your palm; to find there how the
lifeline, broken, keeps its direction.

To read the etched rays of the bullet-hole left years ago in the
glass; to know in every distortion of the light what fracture is.

To put the prism in your pocket, the thin glass lens, the map
of the inner city, the little book with gridded pages.

To pull yourself up by your own roots; to eat the last meal in
your old neighborhood.”

314 thoughts on “one year ago today

  1. Kate,

    I just wanted to say what a priviledge it has been to be able to share the last year with you through your continually interesting and challenging blog posts. And although I continue to wish that you hadn’t had to go through it, your persistance, and determination to keep getting better has been an inspiration and a little bit of hope in my very difficult year. Thank you.


    1. I am just discovering your wonderful blog after a friend shared a recent post with me. All I can say is “wow” and I am so very glad you survived and that you have the generosity of spirit to share your recovery and continuing journey with us. I feel privileged. Thank you so much and may only good things come your way.

  2. I’ve been reading you for a while, since just before your stroke, and I don’t know if I’ve commented before. I’ve never known quite what to say. Like you say, you dearly wish this hadn’t happened, but it’s inspiring and encouraging to watch your progress nonetheless. Sometimes the bravery and strength is in how we deal with what is put before us, not in what we seek out.

    I’m glad you’re here, a year on, and I hope you continue to heal.

  3. I continue to find inspiration from your walks. I love to hear of where you’re going, how far you’ve gone, what you get to see, and the history you’re living with. I’m thankful you’re who you are! Push on, push up!

    1. Thankyou so much for sharing your experiences, you are an incredibly brave young woman who enhances the life of all of us who share your experiences, so eloquently written here.
      This is an anniversary I wish you didn’t have to remember, and you are still striving for wisdom and learning through this time, much respect and knitterly love is due to you.
      Sending you much love and energy.

  4. Kate,

    I have learned so much from you this past year. Previously I had been reading your blog and marveling at your knitting/design skills and your keen intelligence, but that first email from Tom was so utterly shocking that I still remember being riveted in my seat. I said a quick prayer and spent the next days checking the blog for updates on you. It was such a relief to finally hear that you were progressing, but so unbelievable to think you at 36 had a stroke (actually two).

    To read your words one year later is a landmark event not just for you, but for those of us who have come to care greatly about your good days and bad days (perhaps when you need us most). May you continue to progress, grow and learn in body and mind. I wish with all my heart that you had never experienced this terrible event, but your recovery and articulation of these events, has been nothing short of miraculous. I wish you many more small miracles in your recovery.


  5. hi. i’m not sure how i stumbled upon your blog, but i did, and this is such a moving post, i’m trying not to cry. i am one of the people reading from the interwebs, occasionally leaving a comment. i had no idea of the “what” behind the fatigue that i’ve read about in previous posts. i didn’t want to be nosy and be like, yo girl, what happened, you know? you are so fortunate to have friends and family in your life that have been there with you through this rough year. the fact that you shared this publicly is a strong testament to your willpower and strength. i can’t put into words how much this has moved me. i’m so happy for you. obviously not that you had to go through this, but that you are coming out the other side if that makes any sense. and i love your patterns:)

  6. Dear Kate, your posts over the last year have been heart-breaking and inspiring in equal measures and I am very thankful that you have chosen to let us come along with you in some small part on your journey. I hope that this next year is smoother for you.

  7. I can only hope that if (or more likely when) life throws me such an awfully curved ball, I will be able to deal with it so thoughtfully. Perhaps it’s the mark of your academic brain that not only have you dealt with your recovery physically, but you have thought and written a great deal about the intellectual and emotional aspects of your recovery too. For that I am very grateful, because it helps all of us to be more understanding and helpful to those of us we encounter who cope with similar life-changing situations. The last year may have changed you, but it has also changed many of your readers too.
    Bravo Kate.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing your journey over this immensely difficult year. I thoroughly wish the stroke had not happened. Given that it did, your determination has been intensely inspiring and a gift to us all. Best wishes for more progress, more healing, more success for the “new” you.

  9. Oh Kate

    What can I say?…without wishing to sound like Neil from The Young Ones…this is heavy stuff indeed man….you have been where I have not….it is important to record, that is for sure and feel free to get it out of your system…..if nothing else, I am prepared to read it and to listen…difficult thought it may be for both of us…me trying to even get a glimpse of what you must be going through…you trying to give me a glimpse. Change is f….g hard…particularly when it is not of your own choosing….I marvel that I have only known you since the stroke…..I marvel at what you have achieved since the stroke….I feel, frankly, quite inept and f…g useless with all my able bodied capacities…you are miles and miles and streets ahead of me which must make it more of a torture for you ….I remember being gobsmacked going to a conference in New Zealand 20 years ago shortly after my mother died, when an older wiser person than me said something along the lines of “those that know, stay at home,…..those that don’t, travel.” I felt so insulted. Here I was moving outside my boundaries, exploring unknown territory and someone was telling me I should have just stayed at home. But maybe he was right….maybe the biggest territory that we have to explore is within us…and that is what is so frightening….I’ll shut up now.

  10. Your courage and fortitude is amazing and heartening. You share with us these personal moments, allowing us to think, reflect, be self aware, and offer encouragement. You’re educating us all and letting us see that the way to get through anything is determination and a ton of hard work.

    Keep up the attempts, we are all rooting for you and cheering for your cheerers, Tom and Bruce.

  11. Your last three posts have brought tears to my eyes–two days ago, the absolute beauty of your photos and the land, yesterday, the love shared through this virtual community, and now today, the eloquent strength of your experience.

    I remember when my youngest was in the hospital as an infant, and folks saying how can “God” let this happen. I learned then as I can see now that nothing is wasted. We are all connected and although none of us want the bad, truly, nothing is wasted.

    Thank you for including us in your journey. It means a lot to us to be able to be with you.

  12. What a post! I am going to have to read it again, more than once probably. I started reading your blog just before your stroke and thought that I knew something of your journey this past year. This post, however, makes clear, that no matter what I thought I knew, there was still so much more to it from your point of view.

    Thank you for writing it, you are truly inspirational. I am glad that you had this space to share your story, for your own sake as well as for those of us who read it.

    All the very best, Kate, may this year bring more recovery and less fatigue. And a salute to Tom, a jewel.

    Dawn in NL

  13. Thank you so much for sharing your life so candidly. You inspire me to be better, stronger, smarter and of course a better knitter. You have been a positive influence in my life. Thank You.

  14. Thanks for sharing on what must be an incredibly important anniversary in your life. Your blog inspires and encourages me and many many others on a daily basis, and it’s a privilege to be able to ride along with your journey.

  15. You write so eloquently, and your achievements over the last year are incredible. You really are quite inspirational you know.

  16. I lurk all over this blog, but today I wanted to come out of lurkdom to say thank you so much for sharing this and for all your stories of recovery over the past year. It is my job to interview people working in and receiving healthcare and so often individual stories are silenced behind the cacophany of medical process. Or the stories are short and far too sweet.

    I’ve never read anyone else write so eloquently and thoughtfully about their experience of living with a new body…or actually, come to think of it, anyone writing in that way about living with their body at all. We able bodied people take our bodies so much for granted so it’s like they aren’t there at all.

    Thank you for reminding me.

  17. I only found your blog yesterday from a link from another blog. I came as a knitter visiting another knitter and found someone who was strong and fighting. I too had a life changing cataclysm, but the effects on my body changed slowly getting worse and worse each year. It is so hard to find that the life you had planned can no longer exist outside your own wistful dreams.

    But through the worst thing that ever happened to you, you can find some of the best things that will happen to you too. You find depth in your relationships you never reached before, you see your own strength and worth and above all you find what are the most important things in your life. Sometimes it is surprising to find out what they are.

    Each day remains a challenge, but each day contains some joy too. I wish you all the strength you need and love from those around you, to continue your fight to regain the life you want.

  18. Kate, your posts frequently move me deeply and this one is no exception. I continue to be so very impressed with how you are dealing with this.
    I have a friend in the US who had a severe stroke several years ago. When I learned that about him, I was stunned, as he is a lively, energetic, tireless person with seemingly not a care in the world. He has travelled a very long way down a similar path to yours, and with similar success. I’m not sure what the point of telling you this is – just, I suppose, that the present is better and the future holds a lot of promise?
    Every time I read one of your articles somewhere, I cheer!

  19. Kate, you’re so eloquent, thoughtful, courageous, inspiring. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. Much food for thought here.

    May the next anniversary bring more energy, vitality, health and ease in your everyday life.

  20. I remember clearly Tom’s post last year and the shock I felt. I remember trying to explain to my husband why I was so anxious about someone I didn’t actually know. But over the course of this year we’ve both learnt so much about strokes and have been amazed by your strength, physical and emotional. Much love to you and also to Tom, the unsung hero! xx

  21. I got here via the Mason Dixon Knitting blog that I follow. I’ve added you to my faves and will be back regularly.

    Your story is insirational and beautifully written – just wanted to thank you for sharing.

  22. Hi, my name is Chiara, I’m 37 years old and I live in a little village of North Italy.I had a stroke three years ago…I was paralized to the right side: my right arm, my right leg and the right side of the face…I fighted this situation for two years and I won. Now if the person in front of me doesn’t know what happened to me…all seems normal.I say “seem” because in my mind every day is “24 april 2008″…one part of me is dead that day…but another is born,and truly my friends (few) say that I’m a better person.Now I live a normal life, thinking about two children and one husband and my passion is knitting: a normal life, a normal person…but what mean normal?

  23. Kate,
    I too marvel at your accomplishments in the past year! The day that I read Tom’s post on your blog, I was devastated. I was in shock, disbelief and very sad. I kept saying how could this happen to such a health young woman? Watching your recovery has been so amazing and reaffirming. All of the best to you and Tom!

  24. Kate,

    I stumbled across your blog after downloading the amazing o w l s pattern and have been hooked (pun not intended) ever since. Your posts are inspirational to say the least whether it’s through pictures or words I find myself leaving the blog with something, something good. This post has left me humbled and once again blown away by your gift for creating such spell binding posts.

    Even though I don’t ‘know’ you and have only been following you for a relatively short amount of time, I sincerely wish you well in your recovery and think your tenacity and attitude towards life is admirable.

    Thank you for your wonderful posts.


  25. Dear Kate:
    Although I friended you on Ravelry, I don’t believe I’ve ever commented on your blogs. I read them faithfully and hold you in my prayers for a full recovery. Thanks for sharing your journey and teaching us as you face each day.

  26. very moving indeed…some thoughts I can relate to…had sepsis in 2008 and the recovery was extremely difficult for me but I so appreciate life and living now…sending you positive vibes and continued better health

  27. I had just started reading your blog regularly last year when Tom posted the note about your stroke. It has been an astonishing journey since then. I had no idea what to expect and your recovery so far has been amazing in spite of the setbacks you still experience. Tom and you are an exceptional couple of people, I wish you both nothing but the best. Thank you.

  28. It is interesting to read to read your post. In 2003, I was on the phone with my mother when her sentences began to make no sense. I had her put my sister on the phone and told her that Mom there was something wrong with Mom. At first she did not believe me, but called back a couple of minutes later after calling an ambulance. Mom had a stroke that affected her speech. Apparently, to get her point across to my sister, she punched her in the arm! Luckily, the lasting effect of the stroke is a mild speech problem and at almost 95 years old she is doing well.

    I cannot even imagine having two serious strokes at such a young age. Thank you for sharing your story. I agree with the previous poster that Tom is quite the hero, and of course, Bruce deserves some recognition!

    May the good days of healing continue. I send you a ((hug)) from across the big pond.

  29. Thank you so much for sharing your life, both good and bad, with us. Not to be a Pollyanna myself, but you are such an inspiration to me. I know this year’s been incredibly hard for you, but you’ve come through it, and done it so well. I know I could not have handled a similar hardship with such grace and determination, and I wish you continued success in your recovery.

  30. Kate,

    As others above have said, I don’t even know you, but I feel that I do. I am so very touched and impressed by your journey and your words and your strength through the past year. I think you are an inspiring and thought provoking woman who sees past the scenery on a hike or the fiber in a project – always looking into the history and meaning of the objects and events around us. Your intelligence, your quest to see beyond the obvious, your appreciation of the beauty in things, and your incredible talent are as strong as ever. I’m wishing you all the best, and a smoother year ahead as you continue on your journey, Thea

  31. I’d also like to thank you for all your posts over the last year – well, I’d like to thank you for all your posts, full stop, and the patterns…

    Your insight and intellectual curiosity are really heartening, and I’d like to thank you for expressing them too. They’ve certainly helped me to understand stroke and its effects a lot more.

    best wishes!

  32. Thank you for writing this. Friday I will have yet another hip replacement (my fifth) and I am very angry about it. I have been ranting and railing against the corporate giant that manufactured my current implant who knowing made a defective product that is now leaking heavy metals into my blood and causing terrible pain. This ranting does me no good (except as an impetus for a lawsuit) and increases my anxiety about the situation.

    Your post of reflection, life change and all the emotions and ups and downs of acceptance of your situation are very helpful to me. You speak to the emotional place that I strive for. As I enter into the surgery and rehab I will think about you and draw strength and peace.

    Thank you,

  33. Thank you for sharing this. I, too, am a stroke survivor. My 2-year anniversary is approaching on February 28 (2009). I suffered a hemmorhagic stroke, and at 34 and healthy, never imagined anything of the sort. We are both lucky.

  34. Dear Kate,

    Your determination and courage has seen you through I think. You should be very proud of yourself to have got this far.
    The unexpected always makes us more appreciative of the small details of life.
    Where would we be without those that are closest to us.

    All my very best for your ongoing recovery.xx

  35. Please feel all the strength and support being send to you from all over the world and continue to heal. In so many ways, you continue to be my inspiration. Thank you for this.

  36. I’m so glad you’re here one year on, writing, running and knitting. It’s especially affecting to read this post about your stroke the day it happened (and why you remember the dog so clearly!). Don’t know if you’re an old Hollywood fan, but I’m reading Patricia Neal’s autobiography As I Am. She had a massive stroke at 39, when pregnant, and her obituary appeared in the papers even though she was still alive. She eventually made a full recovery and returned to acting, but she had to learn to walk, talk, and even think again. Much in her life is inspiring, but this is one of her greatest accomplishments. You’re both unbeaten.

  37. I found your blog just before your stroke because I had recently discovered knitting and knitting blogs. I remember reading your first post after the stroke and how it effected me. I have been very inspired by your journey. You are incredibly strong even with your bouts of fatigue. I wish you all the best.

  38. Congratulations on making through the first year! By the way, have you already met the mysterious man with the spaniel dog who was the first one to find you?
    Your strength is truly inspirational. And so is your blog.

  39. I admire you in so many ways – first it was for your knitting and writing, and in the past year it is also for your determination and your courage in sharing the experiences of your recovery. Thank you, again, for all of it. I hope it helps to know you are often in the thoughts of this stranger “across the pond.”

  40. I think you can tell from the comments here that you are kind of a big deal to all of us:)

    My dad had the quote from Socrates ‘An unexamined life is not worth living’ plastered to our kitchen fridge. It comes to mind as I reflect on this past year. I regret so much that that particular gun went off in your head on that cold morning, but am so grateful for that stubborn determination that has motivated you to examine and record this past year.

  41. I think back at the difficulties ( that is such a weak word for what I am talking about) in my own little close family here in the last 10 years and believe fear has to be the worst emotion we feel/ go through. Each time bravery kicks in strides are made…if this makes any sense at all…determination, will power, courage…what heroes are made of or maybe it is me talking shit. Taking fear and putting it in it’s rightful place – to keep us from harm. You give me inspiration, some understanding at a different level, admiration of your courage and I champion your determination and sheer willpower. I wish you well and hope that strength is yours for the taking. Your attitude towards this part of your life is exemplary and you are “amazing”, no other way to say it.

  42. Thank you so much for your description of the past year. I am not a long-term reader, but I have gone back and read your blog. I am glad you are realizing the truly remarkable woman you are and that you have such a wonderful family to share your triumphs with! I am a 14 year breast cancer survivor – somethings are similar. You do learn what you are made of and you do not take life for granted. I will follow your trials and triumphs for as long as you wish to share. Peg in Canada

  43. You are an inspiration and a triumph! Your words are poignant, vibrantly crafted and clearly reasoned, pained and full of hope. There is much more joy to come as your brain continues it’s journey to health. Ten years of progress you will see. I am finishing the fifth year and the progress still comes in little, almost unnoticeable ways. Like you, I have walked a new road from traumatic brain injury and trauma. Nothing is ever the same and there are pains, sorrows and frustrations, but the joy and gratitude are profound. All wise humans are wounded healers and their wounds give enormous power to comfort, heal and help others see the wonder of life. Congratulations, wounded healer!

  44. Kate,
    I rarely comment on your blog (I may have once) because I’m not sure what to say, but I just want you to know that you are one of the people who I admire most. I wish you the best for this new year.

  45. Kate – Once again, thank you for continuing to share your story with us. I wish that you did not have to endure it, but I’m glad that in this day and age, you can share your story in such a meaningful and transparent way. I wish you continued strength, perseverance and positive outlook going into this year. You are an inspiration.
    – Katie

  46. I’ve just found your blog.
    I have been sitting here, reading voraciously.
    I felt it coming on, the sobbing, and part of me said to stop reading, but I didn’t listen.
    There are so many things I want to “say” including I am so glad you have discovered the love of dogs.
    As an RN, I am proud of your knowledge of the pathophysiology of your stroke and your relating of it here. Bravo.
    I would love to be as eloquent a commenter as you are alive.

    Thank You for sharing your story.

  47. Continued recovery and wellness to you. You wrote in the previous post about the world of knitters and the expansive support and strengthening which is present. By sharing your story, you have strengthened that network, deepened it with reality. We are all better for your sharing, both about your stroke & recovery and your (marvelous) knitting. Thank you.

  48. Here’s to a triumphant anniversary, and many many more!

    PS: Even though I cast it on months ago, I have only just begun to cable my o w l s. I am SO excited! And you know what? Everyone who I’ve shown the pattern to (and I imagine everyone who will see me wearing the jumper) always asks where I got it, and I always tell them it’s by this amazing woman on Ravelry who writes the most astonishing blog which always makes me cry and feel brave and determined at the same time :)

  49. Dear Kate, We all wish you had not had the stroke but thank you for all the insights you have given. Living with a person who is suffering from Alzheimer’s you have given me encouragement in the small ways I can help him. As always healing thoughts are sent your way.

  50. As the others have noted, I was so moved to hear that news a year ago, moved to tears for a person I did not even know. I believe it is your amazing language – your ability to communicate – that makes us feel as if we truly do know you as a dear friend.

    I cannot relate my secret and deep thrill when your words reappeared and the stroke hadn’t taken your wit from you. I was so afraid that your words might have been taken, too. Your journey needs to be a book. You know this, too. It will aid others who have no idea this gentle bloggy place exists.

    Take care and stay strong. We’re all so very proud of you…

  51. Kate,
    Thank you for sharing this memory and your observations with me. I feel incredible privileged to have this insight. Keep being stupidly determined, it’s served you well.

  52. ‘One must just keep clinging, keep on going. And one must cling to those who are close to one as well.’

    So beautifully put. Thank you for all the inspiring, eloquent and frankly amazing posts this year. It’s been a privilege to cheer you on.

  53. I remember that post, written by Tom, telling us you were not well. I remember checking back here, nearly daily, for a whole year now wanting to know how you were, how you are, wanting you to get better. Some time in April, my father became ill and even though you had written so much about your stroke, about what learned of stroke, I did not make the connection between what you had written and what my dad was describing. He was sent home with a diagnosis of a sinus infection and we believed it. Later, in October, the same thing happened. This time they struggled to connect it, again, but finally decided he had a TA. He spent two days in the hospital. He seemed fine. He seemed tired. He was sent home with directions to see a GP. I was still reading you and still not making the connection, completely. On a rainy day in November, November 17, my mother and I were headed to NCTE in Orlando. We were an hour and half north of town heading to Kansas City to catch our flight. The cell phone rang, I heard something about my dad, the hospital, going, he feels weird, something and more something. I turned the car around, illegally, and headed south, headed to home. When we walked into emergency, he smiled, apologized for interrupting the trip, and seemed like before. The doctors looked concerned, they admitted him. He transferred himself to his bed but two days later was completely out of it, paralyzed on the left side. He was not my dad. I thought he was going to die. He did not. Two months later, he is now in acute rehab away from home. He has a PEG. He has a crooked smile. He is not the same. He is learning to walk but it is more like leaning to the right and learning to swing a dead leg. He is not moving his left arm, yet. Every day is different. Some days are good. Some days are not as good. We all cling to each other and love each other. You have helped me through. Thank you. ~Kelly

  54. Kate,
    you’re often in my thoughts and I hope that this year you’ll continue to make steady progress and manage to shake off some of the enforced caution and anxiety that emerge following such a trauma as you had.

    Tom and Bruce are lucky boys!!

  55. A beautifully written and thought provoking post, Kate. You have come a long way and you and your family are right to feel a sense of achievement. Keep going. x

    PS YOu may not have read it, but I have found Michael J Fox’s account of his developing (at 29) and living with Parkinson’s unexpectedly moving and inspiring.

  56. I applaud your courage and positive attitude. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You have touched me today and I pray that you continue to touch others for a long time to come – blessings to you –

  57. Dear Kate,
    You have such a gift for getting to the truth of a situation, and then being able to communicate it brilliantly. I am so sorry that the stroke happened, but I feel so privileged to have been able to follow your progress. Your posts have enriched my life, and helped me immensely in dealing with my aging parents and my own physical decline. Thank you!

  58. Kate you are a complete inspiration. Congratulations on all that you have achieved over the last year. Your determination and perseverance are truly amazing. And thank you for sharing it with us through your blog. Here’s to even more progress, fabulous knitwear, and walks with Tom and Bruce in the next year.

    Liz x

  59. Dear Kate,

    Your voice has not changed. It is as lucid and intelligent as it ever was, and I have marveled at your progress over the past year. I want to say “Happy Anniversary” to you and Tom because you have both fought so hard to find yourselves where you are today and because, whether you like it or not, this will always represent a milestone in your lives. You have my utmost admiration.

  60. I have little of eloquence to say that has not already been said, and far better than ever I could. Your courage and determination in the face of such terrifying adversity, and the love and support given by Tom are a totem in this world of self pity and selfishness.

    You are right to be proud of your achievements. I am honoured to be able to follow your journey in such a small part, and take inspiration from your progress, your love, your walks and your knitting.

  61. I only just “met” you today through Mason-Dixon knitting. I feel for your struggle, past and continuing. You moved me greatly with your post.

  62. Thank you for sharing this with me. Your words are touching and brave, and I will continue to send good, healing, knitterly thoughts in your direction.

  63. I, too, linked here from Mason-Dixon… so glad I did. Thanks for sharing your story. I am moved to thought and thankfulness. All the best on your continuing journey.

  64. Dear Kate,
    Thank you so very much for sharing your experiences with us, your loyal readers. It is not sombre. It is an honor and privilege to read. You are so eloquent and thoughtful. I treasure your writing. And I keep you and your healing and recovery in my thoughts and prayers. Although I am a recent reader, please know that I am with you in your fight and struggles and that I am cheering you on. And thank you for Adrienne Rich’s poem.

    I work in the field of disability rights in the U.S. Here is a possibile resource for you: the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) at and their information – accommodation ideas for stroke: Also, here is information about tools for accessibility of websites and computers for those in the academic community:
    All the Best to you and Tom!
    -Peg in Washington, DC

  65. Congratulations Kate; not only on your wonderful courage and determination, or your ability (denied to many ) to be able to pick a truly fabulous life partner, or even your geniosity with the needles but also in being the only person who has moved me to leave a comment on a blog – TWICE! You are an inspiration, long may you continue to touch the lives of so many in such a positive and generous way.

  66. I actually began to read your blog a few months after your stroke. Thank you for sharing so much of your journey through your words and pictures.

  67. Dear dear Kate,
    This bloggy place is a soggy place today. The depth of my response to this post, to you, staggers me. I could hardly read through my tears- not tears of grief today, but joy in your recovery and the connection you have forged to thousands. Knitter magazine brought this blog to my attention just under a year ago and I’ve learned to keep tissues by the computer as you touch my heart again and again. So another shy lurker, one of many, emerges as your champion, to say Huzzah!
    In appreciation, Marilyn

  68. Another reader finally de-lurking to say I’m so moved and impressed by your thoughtful and eloquent writing. Thank you for writing this – it is inspirational.

  69. Dear Kate,

    I’ve been one of those silent ones, following your blog for about two years (I can only imagine how many more silent admirers you have). At first, your blog had been a source of joy and inspiration–I don’t knit, but enjoyed so much your creative spirit and your academic interests fascinated me. But the last year, afer your stroke, your struggle, your spirit, this rare ability to remain real and rational and, at the same time, very deep taught me a lot. I will continue silently wishing you the best in your recovery. And this poem really touched me.

  70. Kate, you truly are an incredible woman; both for what you have achieved over the last year and for the way you continue to share it with all of us. I really do feel privileged to have been able to share your progress towards recovery over the last year. Thank you.

  71. You are such a strong, amazing person and I have to say it’s been amazing watching your progress this past year. I admire your thoughts and steadfast will through this whole thing.

  72. This moved me to tears – thank you for your writing and your inspiring knitted creations. I will wear my Lyttleton Shrug as soon as it warm enough as a gentle reminder of the power of love, the suddeness with which life can change and the resilience of the human spirit.

  73. It has felt like such a privilege to be allowed to share your epic journey and wonder at your progress over this last year. Your amazing attention to details and thoughtful reflections on so many things have made all your readers so much more aware of the tiniest things in life, and you have made us all richer in spirit because of that. What an incredible gift to us all – and to think it has come out of such a bleak event for you. You are truly remarkable! Thank you.

  74. Just wanted to say – thank you!! Your writing is inspirational, and I’ve been (silently) applauding your blog for over a year now. All the best for your continued recovery, and please keep writing!

  75. Let me join the 97 folk who have commented before me – I too found you before your stroke, and was stunned, then sad, when I read the first post from Tom who told us what had happened. You have been brave, courageous and determined, your progress back has been a wonder for all who have followed your recovery. I have enjoyed the pleasure your dog has given you along the way, and inwardly cheered each time you walked another hill again with that lovely man, or achieved something which had been difficult. Above all, your willingness to share the experiences, both good and lousy, and your articulate writing has been an inspiration to us all, and puts so many things in a different perspective. I send my very good wishes to you and your Tom, for your continued recovery.

  76. That was a fascinating read, very vivid descriptions. I hope you continue to recover and that one day you make it back to knitting group so I can say hello in person.

  77. This post made me cry a little bit too. But not really in a sad way – in the same way that stories of extreme bravery, of adventurers and explorers, for some reason often make me cry. Wishing you all the very best for your continued recovery.

  78. It feels so important that you have written this, marked this moment in time. You are absolutely right that it is not a gentle thing, a stroke. As a child, I thought the word was “strike” because it seemed to fit so much better as a description of the blow wrought to our family by my father’s cerebral haemorrhage. I did not know that poem – I must explore further. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, everything. All the best, Kate – you deserve the best!

  79. I have only discovered your blog recently, but have been inspired by your story and your courage in the face of difficulty. Thank you for your honest sharing of your experiences. And thank you for your beautiful photographs! They brighten my days.

  80. What an incredible year it has been for you – thank you for sharing your recovery with us. It is so heartening to read about all the improvements you make. I have forwarded several of your posts to people who are going through difficult times – they are very inspiring, and you are giving lots of people strength through your writing.

    Also, not as eloquent this, but it really seems that your determination is kicking the stroke’s arse in this fight! Long may it continue!

  81. Kate-
    I have rarely commented but have been following your blog for quite a while. It’s not easy to find such an honest and genuine voice in the world today; regardless of the topic there is something about your writing that reminds me to pay attention to the world around me and enjoy wonderful day-to-day joys of life. I think your writing is a greater gift than our humble good wishes.


  82. i have tears in my eyes. you are such an inspiring person and amazing role model. i wish you all the best in this second year as you continue to heal and share with us. thank you for continuing to blog about your experiences, walks and knitting.

  83. Thank you for sharing your experiences so eloquently, intelligently and beautifully. Your writing is so intuitive, I leave off commenting because anything I say would pale in comparison. The way your life has been interrupted horrifies me but your bravery and strength floors me. And the way you still write with the same voice is so heartening. Thank you so much for your posts – and perhaps one day I will be able to attempt one of your beautiful patterns!

  84. It is a privilege to read your story, Kate. Your journey, your reflexivity, your honesty and your bloody determination has been one of the most important things for me in my world this past twelve months. Thank you.

  85. I have just read a remarkable piece of writing – raw and searing, honest and open. To be able to write the way you do is a gift indeed, to be able to ‘pull yourself up by your own roots’ is heroic. Today, this day, may it be yours.

  86. It must have been pretty emotional for you writing this post, but you write with your usual humbling articulacy. In the public chronicling your recovery, I feel certain that you have done A Good Thing. We have gained insight and inspiration from you at least as much as you have from your readers. Thank you.

    May this anniversary mark the end of the worst of times for you and your loved ones, and the beginning of the best of times.

  87. Nothing new to say, I don’t think, but I want to echo the sentiments of so many others: you’re an inspiration. Not for being a superhero, but for being a *person*, with talents for observation and writing, who shares your story. (It’s a bit harder to be inspired by someone if we never find out she might exist!)

    Best wishes for your continued recovery. I hope this has been a happy anniversary in its way.

  88. I was wondering what today would bring from your blog. Such eloquence and resilience as always Kate. What a journey this is, not a path you would have chosen but certainly an unexpected opportunity for personal growth. And how marvelous to have such unconditional love from Tom throughout all this Bravo to him.
    Love, strength and admiration to you both.

  89. You have been such an inspiration – in so many ways – your knitting, your photography, your writing, your intelligence, your insights, your strength and your courage. And you have inspired others, as evidenced by the outpouring of knitterly love that is an inspiration to all of us. I started reading knitting blogs for free patterns and I have found inspiration not only for knitting projects but surprisingly also for how to approach challenges in life.
    Thank you for sharing.

  90. Dear Kate, thank you for this post. “À quelque chose malheur est bon” goes the saying in French, and it has been put differently by another commenter, ‘nothing is wasted’. Somehow this, and your thoughts on bereavement, made me think of inheritance : that a beloved person has to die so you may inherit from them. So you are grieving, because you miss the person and at the same time, you have gained something to be grateful for, even though you’d much rather have that person alive. And you have grown a lot in the meanwhile, so you know both sides of the coin, grief and growth.
    You have grown so much during this past year. I loved your blog before you had the stroke, and remember having been so worried when we got the news. But what you turned it into this past year ! The designs you have offered recently are wonderful, your pictures are beautiful, but the depth of thought you have shared with us and provoked is something else. So while I do wish you’d never had the stroke, the person it is making out of you is such an admirable one that I find the truth of “à quelque chose malheur est bon”. And that is entirely because you decided not to let the stroke get the better of you. Congratulations.

  91. Thank you so much for continuing to share your thoughts about this journey you have been on for the past year. Your posts are inspiring and uplifting, especially as I see two dear friends who have suffered immeasurable loss this year. Like you, they inspire me with their grace.

    When I see a new post from you, I always know I am in for a treat–thank you so much for your thoughtful writing (and also for your knitterly inspiration!)

  92. Thank you for sharing this journey.
    My partner deals with my own disability on a daily basis. He is a hero like your Tom, and yes, all the stages of grief ensue when life changes without your leave.
    My father is recovering from a stroke he had a few years back, and despite his grim prognosis he continually makes progress (they told us after the first year little progress should be expected). He too is a very stubborn person, as is my mom who cares for him. I am so glad I inherited those genes.

  93. Well done, Kate! I stumbled upon your blog a little more than a year ago, and I have followed your journey avidly since then. I went from worried, to hopeful, to pleased and admiring as I read first of your stroke, then of your amazing work and perseverance during your recovery so far. I have rarely commented, because I usually find that others have already said just what I wanted to tell you–only better–but I want you to know that I am also here cheering for you. I look forward to reading where you go from here!

  94. Somehow the word ‘blog’ seems too small for the strength, beauty and insight that you bring to the world. Much love and gratitude to you and Tom for sharing pieces of your lives with us.

  95. Bravo, Kate. Once more your writing draws me in. I’ve been reading you since shortly before the stroke. In fact, it was at first perplexing when Tom wrote the entry advising us of your situation. Wasn’t this a knitting blog? But, it is about life and therefore, supremely interesting, especially when so engaging written.

    Thank you, for telling us more.

  96. Thank you for writing that, Kate. You’re a very brave person, and it’s very good of you to share your thoughts with so many of us. You help me remember how blessed we all are, even in the midst of trouble, and that few of us have troubles that are anywhere near as big as the ones you and Tom have overcome in the past year.

    You also design some of the most gorgeous and “me” knitting patterns ever, and constantly remind me that I need to get to Scotland very soon!
    May the goddess of knitting keep you safe, able to knit, and inspired for many year to come!

  97. A powerful, vivid, personal posting. You have astutely shared so much of your recovery and strength, but we can only imagine the further fortitude and bravery within for all that you chose not to share with us. You are an amazing woman. I’m so glad you have Tom and Bruce.

  98. I told you yesterday how wonderful you are, so I won’t blub on your shoulder again. Today I suggest you might enjoy reading “Soul Made Flesh” by Carl Zimmer. The subtitle is, “The discovery of the brain – and how it changed the world.” Zimmer is an excellent science writer who makes each topic he tackles read like a good novel while accurately translating current (and in this case historical) research. And we know you enjoy research!

  99. I just spent the day – really, a lot of hours – reading your “year”. It seems redundant to say, something spoke to me.

  100. Thank you, Kate, for sharing your life and trials with us all. I appreciate your honesty and intelligence. And I can’t wait to see what happens as you pass this anniversary and move forward into the future.

  101. I generally sit back & lurk here, enjoying the displays of your expertise with words & fiber, but today I want to tell you … I want to tell you how in awe I am each time I read of your accomplishments since the stroke. How impressed I am with your tenacity in the face of obstacles. How grateful I am to read your honest accounting of the hard times right alongside your excitement over the good times over the past year.

    I don’t know if you feel like a role model, but you kind of are. Thank you for sharing.

  102. You are amazing.
    And it´s interesting about the blood-pressure. For a couple of years ago I did a course in internal medicine and the lecturer told us that the bloodpressure is always highest in the mornings and along with some other factors long forgotten he advised us to stay in bed until lunch to be on the safe side.
    So keep up the pace, I sure can´t keep up with it.
    Krya på dig.

  103. Thank you for sharing so eloquently. It must have been painful to write this post, but like so many of your post-stroke posts, it is brave, intelligent and, I have to say again, inspiring. That’s a frequent word in these comments, but you (and Tom) have been truly amazing this past year.

  104. Congratulations on your first birthday in your second life! Many people have a stroke, but not many are able to write about their experience (trials, failures and success) so eloquently. Thanks so much for letting us be part of your (brain)challenging process, which shows that there are other people – apart from the little self- outside fighting as well. It is very encouraging! Wishing you a continuous happy axon-growing in your second year!

  105. KBO, Kate! You’re fight and courage embodied. This must have been a demanding piece to write.

    Thank God for people like Tom, and those who cross your path at the right moment!

    Rest well, Cate

  106. I have followed your knitting, your writing and now your recovery for a couple of years – often with admiration and enjoyment and now with awe too. The rigorous way you’ve approached the whole process of healing yourself is inspiring. To be where you are now, just a year down the line from what happened, really does seem amazing. I loved the brave and honest post you wrote about it, the details you included that convey so vividly what you experienced.
    (Have just skimmed up through earlier comments and found the words “amazing”, “awe”, “inspiring” leaping out again and again. Well, sorry to be so unoriginal but you obviously have the same effect on rather a lot of people.)

  107. Kate, I might have said this in a comment some time previously, but your thoughtful and insightful posts have provided me with so much understanding of what it must have been like for my dad when he had a stroke some time ago. He was never able to regain his speech or writing ability properly so wasn’t able to share as you have been able to. Your words have truly been a gift to me, as well as an inspiration. Thank you.

  108. I decided to comment without reading any of the other comments as I usually do as I don’t want to be affected by anything other than your words. I am going to send a link to this post to all my friends, including the person I saw a film with last night, who said he had come off his medication for high blood pressure because it made him feel funny, and wasn’t going to go back for something that suited him better. It is not as though you could have done anything to help what happened to you. In that way, your stroke was so unfair but maybe it can help other people, who might live their lives a little differently, and be more motivated to do so, by understanding the devastating effects of such a massive medical catastrophe.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings, which must have been difficult. I so admire your positivity, creativity, intelligence and sense of style. I came across you because I’m interested in knitting and crafty things but I have been given so much more.

  109. Kate – a year into my young man’s illness, we’re just off this minute to the hospital to learn if the hideous treatment has fixed him so far or not.
    I never read your blog before. Thank you for what you say about being loved, and how it helps. Your saying it has given me the little bit of extra strength we need today.
    Good luck –

  110. Thank you so much for sharing your memories and reflections of a very traumatic experience. I just recently discovered your blog and hadn’t had the chance to read as many of the past posts as I’d want to. Now I feel like I’m all caught up.

    You have faced this with so much grace and strength. Your point that most of us will be “disabled” at some point in our lives is a stunningly honest one. You are right. I’m 51 and I’ve never been seriously ill or injured. But I’m likely to experience something in the next 20 years. You’ve got me thinking about things that need to be thought of.

  111. Tears. Thank you Kate. You and your blog have been an inspiration both before your stroke and especially now. You are so wonderfully articulate. I am grateful.

  112. Well done for getting through the last year. Although I can’t comprehend the impact of a stroke, you seem to be making great progress, in leaps and bounds and seem very determined that it won’t get the better of you. I hope that determination never leaves you and your recovery continues. You’re right to be proud of yourself!

  113. An epic post indeed about a life-changing moment. Your writing allowed me to see the situation so clearly. You and Tom are lucky to have such a strong bond and, with your grit and determination, together you will get through this.

    I thought of you this morning as a Barn Owl flew overhead when I was feeding the horses. Love and best wishes, Susie xxx

  114. Thanks as always for your wondeful courage and beautiful writing. As a fellow knitter i admired you patterns from afar. As a doctor I have read your words about acute and chronic issues after the stroke with sadness first and the with joy and hope. You are inspiring.

  115. Thank you for sharing this brave, honest story. I’m a brand new reader, and just blown away by your beautiful blog, your knitting prowess, and the quality of your writing. I’m looking forward to returning here again and again for a healthy dose of inspiration.

  116. When we see Tom’s photos of you making your way uphill, it’s all too easy to forget what amazing progress you have made since those early days of learning how to plait your hair again. Gently and stubbornly onwards with lots of cushioning love…

  117. Dear Kate, You and I should meet, I had a stroke 3 years ago and am organising an exhibition called the ‘Stroke of Genius’ you should be in it…my little web site is on and I am on youtube under charlotte marais….look forward to hearing from you…wonderful lady thankyou. best regards Char Faber Marais

  118. You’re a testament to tenacity and grace. My continued best wishes for your continued healing. SO glad you are surrounded by such love as Tom (and Bruce) provide.

  119. Thank you for sharing so much of what has happened to you with us. I hope I can introduce some of my patients to what you have written here, for I know they will gain hope and strength from your words. I think the GP and his flashing-collared dog will forever be a metaphor for hope for me.

  120. Dear Kate,
    I can not begin to express how much I appreciate this post and how it makes me think about my own life. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us. You go girl!
    Lots of love from Denmark, Christina.

  121. Hi Kate,
    Just wanted to add another thank you. I was so happy to find your blog about a year and a half ago. Then a year ago, I was so sad to hear about your stroke. Since then, I’ve been amazed at your determination and strength. And all the while I have been inspired, by what you’ve shared about your personal experience and also your fabulous knitting!

  122. Dear Kate
    Thank you for this post and all your writings which have taught me so much about textiles, literature and the experience of stroke. I teach speech and language therapy students and I would like to request permission from you to use this one blog post (Feb 1 2011) with students. If you do not want your writing shared in this way I will respect this completely. I have been stunned by the clarity of your writing and feel it has much to teach potential health professionals.
    Thank you

  123. i’ve been reading your blog for two or three years now, and always admired your knitting and adventures in the wilderness, but i rarely come out to say anything. but when tom posted for you about a year ago to report your stroke for the first time, i was so worried for you, and as you’ve been sharing your recovery process, i have been quietly encouraging you from this side of my computer. you are quite an amazing and determined person. good luck, kate. you are doing a great job.

  124. I felt I just had to comment today to say how inspiring your blog is. I have followed your journey with great interest; my father suffered a very severe stroke over three years ago and now has aphasia so it is very difficult for him to talk about his experience. Reading your blog has helped me to understand a little better the post-stroke journey and I thank you for that. Your design work is no less inspiring and in facct it was that which led me to your blog some time ago. I applaud you for your strength and courage throughout your recovery and hope that you continue to make such good progress.

  125. One year ago … or so .. while I was wandering around ravelry’s pages, I happened on the owls pattern by you. I bought it straight after.
    Few days after, intrigued, I was going to visit your blog and I found out that the last post is not written by you but by Tom who wrote about your being into hospital because of a stroke. I felt myself strangely alarmed and worried despite I didn’t know you before.
    Since then I regularly read your blog and I learnt of your disease, of your long convalescence, of your rehabilitation therapy, of your successes and of your failures, of all the love and deep affection around you, of your great strenght of will, of your courage and energy.

    Today I’m wearing for the first time the owls sweater, I finished it on sunday. I’m very satisfied by this knitted work and I show it to everyone with pride. And this morning, with my owls sweater on, I read your last post and I admit it really moved me.

    I have absolutely to thank you, Kate, because more than teaching me a beautiful pattern, you let me share your life experience in a so involving way. I think I have learnt a lot of things reading your blog beside knitting wonderful owls.
    Hug you, Lucia

  126. Thank you for being tough and smart, verbal and vulnerable. Thank you for being a writer, a designer, a walker, a photographer and a survivor.

    It has been a privilege to share in the little bit of your life that is recorded here. Thank you for your grace in expressing what it is to be human.

  127. Kate,

    My sister, who is an excellent knitter, told me about your blog a few months ago. She admires your writing, and is, herself, a very good writer. Naturally, her compliment peaked my interest. Since then, I’ve been reading your blog sporadically and have greatly enjoyed every post. You are able to give voice to feelings, sensations, and experiences that few have had and even fewer can articulate. I think every doctor who cares for or treats stroke patients should have to read your blog!

  128. Thanks for writing this. I recently lost my brother after an accident, two medical airlifts, and a few weeks in one of the highest level trauma hospitals in the U.S. I still haven’t shared with anyone the details of those weeks, but I suppose that someday I will be able to have your clarity and that will be another step in the healing process.
    The poem is amazing and I thank you for sharing that too. The idea of looking through those awful projected images to the paths beyond is quite amazing.
    Anyway, I’m sorry this shit happened to you. You continue to inspire me with your fighting spirit, ability to reflect upon your experience and knitting patterns. I’m excited to see what this year brings.

  129. What a terrible experience! I truly appreciate the gift that you are giving to us by recounting all the trials that you have had to face as you struggle to be normal again. I wish you the very best Kate and I think you are doing so wonderfully. Love to Tom for being such a wonderful man. Thank you.

  130. So many things to think about in your very moving post – I think I will need to read it more than once too.

    Ditto everything everyone else has said. But I want to add that I find it absolutely extraordinary that you have achieved so much more in addition to all the difficulties you have had to work hard to overcome and all the life-changing adjustments you have had to make . You have not only found the words to write about your experiences in such a clear and compelling way, you have also created beautiful patterns like “Caller Herrin”. You are definitely not diminished by the awful changes forced upon you so abruptly.

    My very best wishes for your continued recovery.

  131. Your blog is the blog that I ALWAYS tune into. You are amazing. I love the text, the pictures, the subjects, the knitting! You have my BEST love for continuing recovery.

  132. you are so amazing, kate!
    I follow your blog for over a year and a half, and I couldn’t believe it when Tom gave us the news here. How could such a healthy and active young woman suffer from a stroke? Since then your journey back to life and back to knitting and climbing mountains again inspires and astonishes me to no end! You are just awesome, lady!

  133. Well – this post was very moving. I found your blog a little while ago and have very much enjoyed reading the thoughts you have chosen to share. I read about Havi Carel with great interest because I have struggled with congenital heart disease – through several heart surgeries and years of medications and changes in my life. Chronic illness is a different road and one that can be hard to understand. Today I discovered that we started at the same place – I was diagnosed with an atrial septal defect at the age of 30. My path seems to have been the easier one. Thank you for reminding me.

  134. You should be very proud of the distance you have come in the past year. While the stroke was a terrible thing look at the positive side – you have, if nothing else made who knows how many people aware that strokes happen to young healthy people. I have read all of your blogs and am proud of every hill you have climbed and made to the top. Keep up the good work, we are all very PROUD of your accomplishments. Love your photos of Scotland and hope to visit some day, thank you for sharing with me.

  135. Kate– I found your blog a few weeks ago and I have been a constant visitor ever since. Thank you for this post–your story of ongoing recovery is amazing and inspiring. I have two women close to me who are in recovery from strokes and I will share your story with them. One is our age. One is a knitter. I’m shouting encouragement to you from the mountains across the sea, walking the rocky trails with my Labrador Retriever!

  136. You have managed to write about that day in a truly extraordinary way. You have written so open and honestly.
    Strokes are not easy to understand unless you have had the experience yourself or know of someone that has had one.
    I so enjoy reading all your blog entries and the photos are beautiful.
    Keep well. Keep warm. Keep writing your blog.

  137. As you know, you have had the support of your many fans through this ordeal. I have been reading your blog since long before the stroke, and feel I have been with you all along the way, cheering you on in spirit. I never fail to be inspired by you, and know that I will be reading about your great achievements for a long time to come. Cheers to you for never giving up, and thanks for being an inspiration to us all, through your passion for textiles, your creativity, and your determination through this long recovery period.

  138. Your description of your stroke and how it has shaped and changed your shared life with Tom is amazingly honest, and – as you can see from the hundreds of comments above – very inspirational to all who read your peerless writings here.

    I admire and recognise the work you do to face your stroke head on immensely; your grieving for what it has taken from you; your celebrations of the victorious moments which have occured within your recovery; your search to understand – and sometimes frustrations at – the post-stroke you; and your determined efforts to regain all the things in life which give you pleasure.

    I think it is very important that you have marked this important milestone – the yearly marker from the point when your stroke happened – and I hope you can view everything you have done since that fateful day with the same great level of love and respect that all your readers do.

    You are amazing and will only continue to be more amazing as time passes and as your twin flames of determination and talent burn ever brighter.

    I hope for you and Tom and Bruce and Jesus a far gentler year in 2012.

    Love, Felix

  139. This is my first ever visit to your beautiful blog, now everytime I visit (as I surely will) I will think of this post, and feel like I know you just a tiny bit more than I might have done otherwise. I hope this year is most excellent for you x

  140. I have been reading your blog for a few months now, having been told about it by my daughter-in-law, a textile designer. I love knitting and was inspired by your visit to Shetland and by a speaker at WI who brought her Shetland lace knitting. Tuesday’s post was wonderful – the way you have been able to write about what happened to you – the language you use is so evocative. My father-in-law had a stroke at the age of 84 on 1st July 2004 – he and mum-in-law were on holiday and he just “felt a bit funny”. He was in hospital for 3 months and made a remarkable recovery. Now at the age of 91 he is getting frailer and can walk only with the aid of a frame. There is no doubt that the stroke changed his and mum’s life completely, but thank goodness they are both mentally alert and look forward to our visits. I shall be telling them about your blog when we visit at the weekend. thank you so much for your brilliant writing – you are an inspiration.

  141. Such an inspiring story. Thank you for taking the time to write it and share it with us.

    Have you seen that man and his dog since the day they found you?


  142. Thank you, Kate, for letting us into your confidence during this hard year. I had been introduced to your blog (via Jean’s Knitting) only two months before you were stricken – how grateful I am not to have lost a new friend when I had just met her. As always, best wishes to you and Tom.

  143. Kate,

    I only discovered your blog back in October, but I have been following it ever since. I initially came because of your lovely designs, but after these few months I feel as if you are a friend (though this is the first time that I have even posted a comment). Your tenacity and strength during your recovery have been a source of strength for me too. I (thankfully) don’t have health problems, but I have been dealing for the past two years with the substance abuse of my 20-year-old stepson. I have asked the question “why us, why him”. I have wondered how much longer I could hold on. Then I read another entry of yours, see photos from another hike and see how amazing each step is along the way… and I feel hope. It will take time, but our family will heal too. Thank you for helping me to see that. Thank you for also writing about the tough times, for being so honest and open with all of us.

    I too enjoy hiking immensely. If you ever make it to Oregon, feel free to look me up. I can point you toward some amazing hikes here.

    Best wishes for your continued healing.


  144. Kate:

    I am a woman with a remarkably similar story to you. I was also a young, (36), healthy, low blood pressure woman who had a stroke 14 years ago. It changes your life immeasurably. Since people can’t see an outward physical problem, they don’t always understand why some things are beyond my capability. My stroke affected my short term memory, hence I don’t remember phone numbers, names etc. I write everything down. Sometimes people are impatient with me and tell me I just need to try harder, the stroke was a long time ago. What they don’t understand is that I just plain can’t get some skills back in the same way I had them before.

    Bless you for putting into words the feelings I had and still deal with sometimes. That nasty “explosion” in my head will never be forgotten, but, I believe it has made me a more patient person. I’m praying for your continued recovery.

  145. Kate, my eyes filled as I read this post. You’re so brave, and an utter inspiration. Thank you for all you’ve shared this past year, and may your recovery continue to inspire us all. Very best wishes, Karen

  146. I’ve been reading your blog for a very long time. I want to thank you for the honesty in what you write and share. I have stopped reading blogs about people and lives that are presented as gloriously perfect. We know that real life is anything but. You can see from the responses that have been left, the truth is what helps. People are dealt very difficult circumstances, many cannot be overcome, only acclimated to. That’s the truth. A million thank yous for sharing your real ups and downs, the tears and the victories. Every step forward, no matter how shaky or uncertain is still a step forward indeed. Your efforts have been herculean! Ever onward Kate!

  147. This is such a moving and lovely post. I started reading your blog just a few months ago, but it’s rapidly become one of my favorites. I’m very, very glad you’re doing so well.

  148. Well done on getting through the first year. Every anniversary has been experienced once, from this point on. That is an enormous miletone with which you have, very bravely, dealt.

  149. I can’t tell you how moved I am by your post. I have a lifelong passion for knitting and craft… It’s also nearly a year Since I lost my dear dad to a cruel stroke. So much of what you write mirrors my feelings from the other side as an onlooker. I wish I had the words to express how it was, but for now, I can take comfort and identify with the way you have.

  150. Kate, my father died after a series of disabling strokes. Since then I have lived with my fear of stroke in the darkness of the back of my mind, muttering at me. I haven’t words to say how grateful I am that you have shared your journey with the world and that I found it, because now, when I hear that fear, I remember all that you’ve achieved – and I feel braver.

    Thank you, and Tom. I wish you Well.

  151. If I were to list my heroes for the last year your name would be up there in lights, Kate.
    If I rarely comment it’s because I’m so often astounded beyond adequate expression. Your blog had contributed enjoyably to my life for a quite a while before your stroke and since then….. well I can only offer you heartfelt thanks for your determination, desperation, unflinching honesty and eloquence. And enormous appreciation for some bloody brilliant new designs!
    Well-wishing you as much as ever.

  152. ( I hope this doesn’t sound weird…)

    I love you, Kate. You are my sister. You have added something to my life. I check on you daily. I call you my friend in Scotland. I guess this doesn’t feel like a blog, impersonal and guarded. Rather, it feels so honest, raw and true.
    Thank you for your friendship.

  153. You’ve come such a long way in a year. And I have every confidence that you will make more progress in the coming year.

    Thank you for sharing this with us – your courage and honesty are an inspiration.

  154. I appreciate your generosity, through which, you have given me an insight to the challenges of stroke, serious disease, or disability. You have opened doors of understanding that were previously closed. I hope that you continue to gain strength, that your brain continues to make new pathways, and that you have less and less fatigue as time goes on.

  155. I read your post and it moved me so much. I don’t really know what to say as I can’t express myself as wonderfully as you do, but I am glad I read your blog and that you are recovering. x

  156. What a journey you are having. Not wished for, certainly, but, like most journeys, full of interesting waysides that add to your life. I’m sorry of your loss of your old self but have great admiration for your new one.

    Take care,

  157. I am a brand new reader on your blog. Just happen to find it today and your last post moved me so much. I had to read all your old posts as well and found beautiful pictures of Scotland and knitting. I love it, you got me hooked! I wish you all the best, see you on the blog soon.

  158. I don’t find your post sombre; I find it, like all of what you write, very direct, very fully felt, and both explanatory and exploratory. You bring a wonderful, measured quality to each experience you blog about, whether it’s a walk in Shetland or the fall that signaled the stroke. You remind us that, frail as our flesh may be, language endures and sculpts experience. Thank you for so fully recreating the day that divided the world for you.

  159. I am always blown away when I stop to visit you, Kate. You’re simply amazing. As one who’s also “gone down and come back” your story has been life affirming, and a reminder that, even 11 years out now, I can’t be complacent. Today is National Wear Red day in the US – for Women’s Heart Disease. I’m wearing my red dress pin and a red sweater.

    And I’m delighted to be here to read every post you write.

  160. I have just found your blog and your most recent post has moved me to tears of admiration. What a year you have had and what determination you have shown. I wish you continued recovery and look forward to reading more about you, your wonderful partner and dog and your knitting. Thank you for sharing your old and new self.

  161. Just dropping in to add my thanks to the many others for sharing your journey with us. I don’t comment much, but check in to “see how Kate is doing” every week. I feel like I have learned so much about stroke recovery and appreciate your candid writing style. Thanks also for sharing all your beautiful photos and the interesting things you do.

  162. I have followed your journey for the past year and it has given me a broader understanding of what my father went through when he suffered from a stroke. Thank you for sharing this past year with all of us, letting people that have suffered from health problems know that they are not alone and it is a constant struggle with ups and downs and giving those of us who do not have health issues an understanding on how we can help. – Regards – Susan

  163. It’s just amazing that you can recall so much of that day and it is beyond amazing that you have recovered so well. Fatigue can depress you, but I’d think you are aware of that and it seems your support system is bound to buoy you up. You are very lucky.

    I completed knitting Neepheid last night and it was scary-small. It went for it’s soak today and it is currently stretched and drying. It still seems small and I can’t envision it sitting on my head as it does yours in the pattern photo. Any suggestions? It’s so darling. I’d really like to wear it.

  164. I have been following your blog since you made your lovely grey skirt with red pockets and a matching scarf. I have so much admiration for you. What a star!

  165. Thank you for continuing to share your loves, inspiration, hardships and life. Wishing for you (and yours) a very good year full of progress and continued success, and of course, knitting.

  166. I met you about a year and a half ago in Pennsylvania at a talk you gave on Philadelphia and the founding women…I had my photo taken with you as I had followed your blog. You seemed the epitomy of a healthy, bright, intuitive, grand young woman…
    This incedent is a reminder that life can change in an instant…it could have been could have been me..we never know.
    So your courage is inspiring, your sharing is heart felt, your life is a gift and so is mine.
    Thank you for sharing all of this with those who are listening.
    You have many great gifts in your life and you realize them and are using them to the fullest. How many people I know that would go through these things alone and have only themselves to rely on.
    Your talents are inspiring and your courage the same.


  167. I came to you through Deb Lacativa’s blog – ‘more whiffs, glimmers and left oeuvres’ (you were linked as ‘inspiration’) — and how true that is! I am very moved by your story and am sending it right away to a friend who fell off of a horse last year and has found HER life changed forever (tho with a different injury).

    I wish you the best and look forward to coming here more, because among other things, you are a superb writer.

    Have you read “Three Dog Night”? It is a memoir by a woman who’s husband gets hit by a car and suffers brain trauma. It was a wonderful book ‘from a distance’, so to speak – I wonder if you might enjoy it from close up (and perhaps not — maybe that’s not where you want to go when reading!)

  168. I am afraid all the necessary words needed to express our love and admiration for you have already been used by the people (women) who left a reply before me.
    I feel the need to send you “something”, is it possible to have your address?

  169. Dear Kate,
    Some years ago, when I was working on my PhD, I was a TA for a large Church History class in an American seminary. The professor was a venerable old wizard of the subject, much beloved by his colleagues and students. Right before the spring semester started, he had a stroke. The class, (which was huge- about 160 students) had to go on and between the TAs and one of his former grad students, it did for a month. Then we got word that the professor was coming back, despite the stroke, despite the naysaying of those around him. People said he was too old- he should just retire. He was defiant. That day he was wheeled into the classroom by his grad student, and as he came up to the podium he looked at us TAs anxiously standing around and said to us “Well don’t just stand there- get me into the chair, get the microphone on, and let’s talk about the Reformation!” So three of us hauled him up into the chair, we got his notes for him and got the class going.

    The old wizard may have had a stroke, and one side was considerably paralyzed, but his brain was clear. Out came the jokes about Calvin and Luther, out came the careful recounting of Reformation history, out came the kind twinkle in his eye and his general brilliance. And together, between his ten TAs, and 160 students, we made it through the semester. I know it was hard for him (he told me so) but I also know that his re-claiming of the class gave him a reason to keep going, a reason to fight, and a reason to hang on. For that I always admired him, and your blog also shows those qualities– and that is why I admire you too.

    Keep on fighting, keep on being fabulous, and keep on keepin’ on.


  170. I remember clearly the shock and fear I felt the day I read Tom’s post that you had suffered a stroke. I cried – for you, and for Tom and for all of us who have come to “know” and love you through your writing and knitting.

    I’ve left this comment before, and I’ll probably leave again after this, but you inspire me in so **SO** many ways.

    Thank you.

  171. Dear Kate

    As so many before me have said, you have inspired, and our wishes across the world have gone out to you, Tom, and young Bruce, over this past year.

    I smiled when I saw you walking along the beach at Unst (I dream of one day exploring and crocheting my way across the islands!), and thought of just how much you have all experienced and persevered to make it to that place and time.

    Your lovely words, work and the way in which you reach out to so many is simply amazing. Our hearts are full for you.

    Lynda (Victoria, Australia)

  172. Hi Kate
    I came to your blog having just knitted O.W.L.S and looking for more of your designs. That was almost a year ago. The first post I read was Tom’s saying that you had had the stroke. Since then I have read every single post and admire your honesty and strength of spirit. And your skill as a designer, of course. Now I have many more patterns I want to knit!
    Thank you.

  173. I’m so happy that you’re doing so well a year on! It’s been amazing to read about your recovery and determination. You’re such a strong woman!

    I’m also absolutely fascinated by the idea of the transatlantic books you wrote about as I’ve been doing some research into how the internet is if not fuelling, providing a necessary link in the chain for the knitting community.

  174. Thank you. I recently discovered your blog after I started knitting manu; I have gone on to read every word that you have written in the past year. You have written with dignity, courage and intelligence at a time when you must have felt none of these things. Your mental journey is at least as challenging as your physical recovery; don’t let anyone suggest that for you to dwell on your stroke for as long as you want & need to is morbid or sombre, it is an important part of the grieving process. Also, it does so much to help others empathise with your difficulties, you may even help many of us to deal more appropriately with other people and cope with our own frailties and set backs more couragously. Again I say, “Thank you”.

  175. Thank you for sharing this. Yes you have inspired me as well, and as I face my own health issues this year I will be thinking of you and your determination and hard work and be encouraged. I remember that first post you wrote from the hospital on your cell or something and I was amazed then and I’m still amazed. All with grace.

  176. Wow, that is such an inspiring story, Thank You for sharing it. I have just found your blog and after reading a few of your posts I am grateful there are strong women like you out there to lead the way for the rest of us. I only hope that I will have the same strength and courage when I am faced with lifes challenges!

  177. Kate, your post was beautiful and so honest about illness and mortality. Congratulations on everything that you have achieved with sheer determination and bloody hard work and a massive hurrah for Tom for being such a rock. Thank you for sharing so frankly about it, it has made me understand strokes much more which has been terrifying and challenging at times. Its made me think a lot about some of the things my Nan may have experienced post-stroke and I hope this will make me do things differently in the future.
    I hope the next years are much much kinder to you and Tom. I will cheering you on for much walking, fabulous knitwear and walking outfits, many lovely woolly trips and cooing over the pics of Bruce. You are a massive inspiration and very much loved by all of us. xxx

  178. What an amazing post about your year. It is very touching to read – not just for me as I can see from the amount of comments! Its been an incredible experience to read your blog the last year and hear openly and honestly of all the ups and downs of recovery and life. Its particularly touching to hear of your pride in all you have done to get through this time – I think illness takes more courage to get through than most other things in life and its something that is not always recognised. I wish you all the very best. And a giant thank you for sharing yourself with us all. Its a huge service to the world.

  179. Thank you Kate for being such an inspiration and for reminding me that even in dark days persistence and strength can bring us through into the light. With all best wishes for the coming year and those to follow.


  180. As a new reader to your blog, I look forward to your posts and stories of courage as you go through your “new” life. Thank you for sharing your amazing story!

  181. Hi Kate,
    I’m (now formerly) one of your ‘silent’ readers. I was pointed to your blog by a fellow knitting friend who thought I would enjoy it. Your words are moving and inspirational. My sister has a serious and incurable brain condition called Cavernous Angiomas. I know from her continued fight, the full implications of brain injuries. The brain is an amazing organ and remarkable at changing various areas to accommodate ‘new’ tasks. Keep fighting and keep positive!
    My very best wishes for your continued recovery.
    Tracy xxx

  182. Kate – I didn’t read your blog before the stroke – only after … and I have to say that seeing you work through everything has inspired me. Inspired me to love every moment of every day.

  183. I found a recommendation for your blog from another creative blogger, and WOW, this is the first post of yours I’ve read. Powerful words leaving me speechless! And your projects and designs are amazing.

  184. I’m another first time commenter moved by your post. I have followed for some time, totally in awe of your strength (and your knitting). Rock on girl – you are an inspiration to many. Love your blog keep it up. As for your strength – well you just keep on powering on. Brilliant.

  185. I came across your site today, after randomly seeing a link on another blog. Am I ever glad I did! This post is incredibly moving. Thank you for sharing in such a deep, eloquent, generous way. You will inevitably be in my thoughts as you continue to recover.

  186. A few years ago our neighbour had a stroke. I grew up with his son and we’d played together, laughing at his dad who shook his head and said ‘I’m too old to play, let me rest.’ After the stroke he became silent and withdrawn and reading your words gave me words to finally understand.

    Your description is one of the most powerful accounts of sudden illness I have ever read. As someone moving forward each day from ‘the day they told me’ too, I wholeheartedly wish you well xx

  187. Wishing you greater strength and healing with each passing day. You are a gifted writer, designer, knitter, thinker…. and I appreciate your sharing.

  188. You are a truly admirable woman. It seems to me that it must have taken great courage to write about your experiences and great strength of character to approach them in the way you have. Thankyou for helping me to understand something of what you’re going through. Heartfelt wishes for your continuing recovery.
    Your chap sounds like a proper good’un, too.

  189. What you have written this past year has been amazing. It’s rare to get such an eloquent window into life after sudden illness. I can only speak for myself, but I know that I have learned an enormous amount from your experience. I very much appreciate your honesty. We are truly lucky to have you, Kate.

  190. Your journey is a brilliant reminder to me to take nothing for granted. I admire your spirit and thoughtful reporting. If you hear cheering, it is for you in support of your recovery from far away Seattle, Washington. I suspect you will hear cheering from all over the world, as you and Tom have touched all our hearts. Warm regards.

  191. So uplifting to see how you’ve found the good and pushed forward, where some would only find the bad, and give up. I am so thankful for the powers of knitting and of knitters. Thanks so much for all you share.

  192. I work with children and adolescents who have serious heart conditions. Strokes are not uncommon for some. I really apperciated the ‘inside’ thoughts you had during your stroke, and faterwards in your recovery. It reminds me that sometimes all I can give is a calm voice, respect, caring and information to make it less scary; a hand to hold during procedures, and patience. Oh the patience you have, if you can have it from within, we can have it from the outside. You have made me a better nurse by sharing. Thank you so much.
    ( and I saw a woman today in shorts, tights and wee hiking boots…..I immediately liked her!)

  193. Thank you for sharing Kate. I come back here every post even though I don’t know you because you are so articulate, intelligent, observant, warm and kind. I am so glad that your stroke did not prevent you from continuing to share all those things here. It is a privilege to still have this window into what goes on in your life.

  194. You have such an incredible gift for expression and for making connections through words and I have always enjoyed your posts. I think that over the last year the quality of your writing has grown and grown. On so many occasions your words have moved me to tears or made me smile and feel inspired, so often I have read a sentence and thought, yes, that says it perfectly, I understand.

    I do think that you could write a really incredible book Kate.

  195. i remember checking the blog the day the post from Tom went up and being so worried. it’s been a year of constant awe- you have progressed so much (although you may not feel that way at times) and you share your experiences so openly and beautifully- the same as always and before. thank you so very much for your pure voice. it really makes my day to read about yours, see the world in your pictures, become inspired and appreciate fully all you give to this little corner.

  196. I too was a reader of your blog before the stroke, enjoying the knitting content, being converted to wearing proper woolly walking clothes & admiring your designs & writing. Then I heard through Ravelry that you had had this catastrophic thing happen, and I was so shocked & worried. Since then you have come so far and reading about your progress has been a privilege. I very much hope for the best for you & Tom now & in the future. Thank you for sharing all this with us.

  197. I agree with so much of what has already been said! Thank you for sharing the first year of your new journey so eloquently and thoughtfully. Tom is truly a rock!! And Bruce is a darling.

    Like another person above I found it hard to explain to my husband why I was so concerned about someone I had never met – he couldn’t understand it!

    Keep travelling – who knows what wonders wait around the next corner – that you might never have found if your journey had not taken this unexpected diversion!

  198. Wow.. one year ago. It’s amazing to see how you’ve fought back, and still do. I sent you a post once, through Ravelry, about what it means to me to be able to read about your recovery in relation to the strokes that my Dad had a couple of years ago, and the way he is dealing with the process of recovery. When I read this post today, it brought me back to the day of Dad’s “big stroke.” It’s so strange to read you had stressfull thoughts play a part in you getting your stroke. Stressfull thought also played a part in my Dad getting his. He too had a sudden rise in bloodpressure, and the fact that I was going through a very difficult time at school, caused him to have very stressfull and angry thoughts while he was doing the dishes. And then it happened, suddenly he was on the kitchen floor.
    I am amazed by your stength, your perseverance to overcome the difficulties that you face daily, and by the choice that you have made to live!
    I wish it had not happened. I wish you wouldn’t have to live with concequenses and I wish it could be all undone.
    But thank you, thank you for being strong, for being an inspiration, for being you!

  199. I remember the day that Tom posted instead of you, and how much I missed your writings in those first few weeks. Thank you for continuing to blog, knit, walk and live, but especially for documenting/photographing it all so that we can walk this path with you.

  200. Having seen there were 270 responses to your post, I hesitated to add mine as I thought you would probably never read them all. But then I reflected on what a brave and persistent lady you are, and decided to add it.
    I hope I have as much courage if anything like that ever happens to me or my loved ones.

  201. I remember being impressed by Tom before your stroke. After all, he ran up mountains, buried his own beer, and was with you (which meant he was terrifically smart). Then he added the daunting task of braiding hair, now he’s playing with puppies. How wonderful and strong you two must be together.

  202. this is such a moving story. a similar thing happened to my dad a couple of years ago and he was taken into hospital as one of the walls of his heart had thickened and was causing palpitations. to have gone through two strokes and to be able to stand back as a stronger person can certainly give you ample reason to see life in a renewed way. thank you for sharing your story and i wish you all the luck for the future


  203. I caught up on my reading late, but I wanted to leave a message to let you know how moving it has been to have you share your experiences over the past year. You are an incredibly strong person and I hope many good things come to you in this second year of recovery.

  204. Wow! I’m blown away! I’m browsing my favorite blogs, see a pattern I love, find it on Ravelry, click on the designer’s web site and it leads me to read your blog. When I got to the story of your stroke and amazing comeback, well I just am blown away! You are an amazing knitter, writter and woman. I love learning new things and discovering wonderful insights into people and their motivating moments. Please keep writing and knitting, I love reading your words.

  205. Not sombre at all! Inspirational, that’s what you are. I’ve recomended your blog to a few people I know affected by stroke, they all agree you are one amazing woman. I’m also increadibly happy that you found Bobby, I got teary at the thought.
    Tom is the sort of man women the world over wish they had. You’ve really hit gold there. And Bruce is lovely too.
    Thank you for sharing everything with us.

  206. Here’s me blubbing at my laptop – you are so brave. Thank you for writing so frankly. It just makes me realise how lucky we all are (in varying degrees) for our health and for people who love us

  207. The brain is frightningly omnipotent isn’t i -t mine doesn’t work as it should either. Your description of the stroke itself is unflinching and deeply effective – I have just stumbled on your blog today and it’s wonderful.

  208. a friend passed your blog along to me. i also had a stroke when i was 36 – it will be 2 years in august. mine was a complication of surgery to remove a brain tumor. i too have a weak left side, and had to re-learn how to walk. it took about a year. my balance is shot, and it’s likely that i’ll always need to carry a cane. but the fact that i can walk is what matters to me.

    my stroke has left me feeling overwhelmed with gratitude and appreciation. like you, i’m sure that there was an easier way. but this is what happened, and i’m making the best of it.

    take care, and i’m looking forward to following your blog.

  209. I think this blog should be published in a medical journal. It is so true to how a stroke happens and how it effects most people physically. Thank you for sharing this. You are an inspiration to people who have had to struggle with similar afflictions meaning any type of brain injury from stroke or head injury.

  210. Wow, I just found your blog this morning and spent hours reading it before realizing what you have gone through in the past year and a half.

    About five years ago, at your age, my health started to deteriorate and I was diagnosed with three separate and relatively serious condition, one of which (Hemiplegic migraines) gives me the symptoms of a stroke for a few hours every day (speech, vision, perceptual and paralysis problems). Because of this I have so much sympathy for anyone who has to deal with having permanent neurological issues. The hardest thing for me to accept was how vulnerable I am now and how much I have to rely on others. However I have largely gotten over those feelings and I realized quite how willing people are to help, even strangers. I now carry a cane with me all the time, for various reasons but one is so that my weakness isn’t so invisible and people will find a seat for me or help me carry things when I simply can’t live my life otherwise.

    Using symbols of weakness such as a cane gives me the freedom to live my life in a way that wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t acknowledge and accept my new disability.

    You are an amazing example to us all.

  211. I have admired your hats and it was just today in Vogue magazine that I read about your stroke. I have lived with strokes in my family my whole life, 3 generations. I understand so much of what you are saying but it was your remarks about loss of sense of identity that really defines what I have seen family members go through and I really could not put it into words. Thank you for this understanding. Best wishes to you. There is a book ” My Stroke of Insight” which helped alot when my brother had his stroke 2 years ago.

  212. I hope you continue to fully mend. This was very educational; strokes run in my family, but I had always wondered why young people sometimes get them.

  213. Dear Kate, while you lost many capabilities due to the stroke, you overcome your initial despair and the days which appear to be dark, you are working hard to overcome obstacles, and you gained and won many abilities to express yourself in your textile work.
    My husband and I wish you the very best, courage and happiness for your life. May it be as fulfilling as it can possibly be. Your life is accompanied by the love of many.

  214. Thank you for describing your experience. My mother had a stroke almost two years ago, & I’ve often wondered what it was like for her; I pieced together a bit of what happened through clues found in her apartment. I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but your post gives me a bit of insight into what it might have been like for her. It’s apt that I came across your post as my mom was an amazing knitter. I say was as she has no interest in at all now, nor in listening to the classical music she was so well versed in, but again your post gives insight into what it’s like processing sound after a stroke. (My mom has much less physical effects than you, other than fatigue; however, her communication skills are severely affected.) Thank you again for this post & others. Your ability & will to fight through this are incredible & inspiring. All the best to you.

  215. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I too had a stroke at a very young age (43) and it’s been almost a year post stroke. My stroke was caused by a faulty vessel at the base of my brain which caused me to lose some of my vision…and subsequently my driver’s license. Thanks to my wonderful neurologist at Sunnybrook Hospital who helped me through the maze of government regulations I just passed a medical driver’s test and am able to get back behind the wheel of a car (well as soon as my paperwork comes in the mail). Reading your story I too have a hard time concentrating when there is excessive noise and I get very very exhausted as well. I thought it was just my age. Again thank you for sharing your story with us.

  216. Kate,

    Thank you for sharing your story. My husband I have gone through this in the past 18 months as well. Perfectly normal Sunday afternoon at the lake (in a remote location of northern Minnesota, US) and slowly but definitively our world changed direction without any forewarning. Nothing is the same. He said he didn’t feel pain; calm, in fact, as you described. While we waited for medical attention he kept signing his name in a notebook and as the minutes ticked away, his handwriting drooped and swirled, his normal strong, crisp cursive eluded him. Right before our eyes we could see something was happening. All I could think of at that time was please, don’t change his beautiful mind. So smart and kind, I just didn’t want anything to happen to that beautiful mind. Like you, we researched everything and then just went about getting better. What else to do? He is stronger but says he won’t be the same, very tired more days than not, but still getting better. We’re closer now. Now the daily questions before heading off to work are, “did you take your pills? Do you have your phone?” Sometimes, I am sad that some options are unavailable to us, the ‘wild blue yonder’, ‘the sky’s the limit’ kind of options, but I think it will be better for us anyway. We’re challenged to think differently and make better, more reflective decisions about are our life together. A couple of weeks after his stroke and he was home, I taught him how to knit. I had some big chunky yarn and size 19 needles. I cast on and showed him garter stitch. Being calm and watching him aim the needle into the stitch was so hard but when he got it, we cheered! We were both exhausted after one row of knitting! Our friends and family were there for us but it is ultimately Rob’s journey. His attitude never faltered; he is really brave and amazing. Jenny

  217. Such a moving and inspirational post, and brings to mind a close family friend that is still recovering from her stroke after more than 10 years (time gets muddled up, it may be nearer to 15 now). They didn’t think she would last the night, and we had to steel ourselves for the worst.

    Thanks to her being a very stubborn lady, she is still with us, and gone from someone the doctors thought would never be able to do anything for herself again, to being a somewhat re-invented person. Her personality is still the same, even if the body isn’t what it used to be.

    It never fails to amaze me how much she has changed since my mum and I visited her in hospital, and it sort of proves how the little things is life really aren’t worth fretting over, in the greater cheme of things.

    I hope you continue with the strength you have shown here, your optimism is truly inspiring.

    All the best for the future (and please keep making your beautiful patterns for us!)

  218. Dear Kate, I found your blog only recently and this post just today. I feel honoured that you shared this and blessed to have read your experience. I wish you light, love and laughter. xxxx

  219. I came to your blog to read the o w l sweater story, and then, liking your voice so much I wanted to know you better. This post seemed the first step to that.

    Thank you for sharing your story, and the Adrienne Rich poem. I’ve been grieving today because I can’t have children, and received an ultrasound picture in my email from an understandably happy father-to-be, whom I’ve known all his life. Now he is to be a father again, and I’m reminded of how I thought my life would be. That poem helps. Thank you.

  220. Dear Kate,
    Thank you for this post. My husband has a brain injury, though not from a stroke, and his experience has been similar. He relates especially to the inability to sort sounds, debilitating anxiety, uncontrollable muscle spasm and that strange feeling of losing your identity. He would say that he knew who I was but feeling about who I was changed. There has much grief for my husband, myself and our children. We all lost the father, husband, self that we knew and had to rebuild relationships with a new person, as it were. But, I have to tell you, we are better for it. Hal has good days and bad days, but he is writing again, and has nearly finished a novel. Financially, are usually struggling, but money isn’t everything. We have each other and a new appreciation for that. Some people never reach that. So we are, all in all, thankful. Thank you for sharing your experience. It has meant so much for him to read it and realize he is not alone. Though he is paralyzed on the right side of his face, he seems, in most other respects normal to the casual viewer. I think sometimes he feels he should be better by now (10 years out from surgery for brain tumor and subsequent meningitis), but he really has had to learn to adjust and accept his disabilities as they are. I don’t want you to think he isn’t better. He really has made some remarkable gains in his condition since the tumor. I am sure you will continue to do the same. May God bless you and your lovely Tom. If Hal or I can ever help in any way,please let us know. You will both be in my prayers:0)


    Angela Whisnant

  221. Thanks for writing about your stroke so openly and honestly. I hope it helped. I had a sub-arachnoid haemorrhage in 2004 and so much of your story resonates with me.

    My stroke was very mild, but a lot of the issues you have are the same for me. Also, your positive reaction – that too is the same as me.

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your post, thanks again, and lots of luck for the future. xx

  222. That story telling was one of the best I have ever read. The way you describe everything, I can actually visionalize every part of this. It is wonderful. I suffer from FMS and chronic pain from a fall in the military, and describing to doctors or family/friends is very difficult. While reading this I was amazed on how you can explain every feeling. I am so sorry you had to go through that.

    I don’t blog/article read much, besides my friend Sarah’s. How could I read more of your work.

  223. A friend suggested that I read your blog. I too am a brain injury survivor (hemorrhaging and then surgeries). Like you, I now enjoy riding my (red) tricycle, but unlike you, I discovered writing after the injury. I’m currently writing a book on my recovery (almost finished the first full draft). I’ve been writing a blog (, but it is not in the form of a journal, just bits and pieces that are byproducts of the book.

    I am almost five and a half years post injury, and of course still deal with residual deficits. I have trouble with my balance and with vertigo, memory, attention span, fatigue etc. But the worst of the lot for me is my difficulties with sensory overload. I try to avoid offending situations as much as possible, but you can’t stop yourself from living. You become good at risk management, weighing the pros and cons, deciding if it’s worth the price you know you’ll pay. But pacing myself is an ongoing struggle.

    A lot of good has come out of it, however. Good friends, a better appreciation of what you have (unless you’re too tired and frustrated), and in my case, the writing. The bloody brain (as I refer to it) actually helps with the bad brain days–the connection between my somewhat impaired factual memory and my emotional memory is faulty, so I don’t really remember the frustrations, the self-pity, etc. I remember the facts with quite a bit of prodding, but the memory is detached, devoid of emotions. In general, a lot of the bad brain stuff fades into oblivion quite nicely. So, if today was good, life is good.

    Life is good.


  224. Your piece of writing took my breath away. Beautiful written words about such a tragic part of your life. I was just looking at the woman behind the the knitting book I am about to order. And then I read your story. I wish you all the strength, wisdom and best of luck.

  225. Kate, I have only just ‘found’ you, and am equally astonished and in awe of what you are achieving after the terrible stro. How dreadful that must have been. I wish you all the very best (and I am so looking forward to learning how to make your gorgeous hats). You are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing so much with us. Stay well and flourish.

  226. I was told by other survivors that I probably won’t notice the 2nd anniversary of my brain injury. I didn’t really believe them. They were right–a couple of days after the 2nd anniversary, a couple of days went by before I realised that it had been and gone. But I wasn’t ready to celebrating how well I was doing until the 3rd.

    It keeps getting better. And no matter what, it is an incredible journey of discovery and rediscovery of the new you and the world around you.


  227. He hello Kate I had a stroke 3 years ago snd you are sm inspiration you describe perfectly how I feel I am unable to describe to people how I feel but uou have gone it perfectly thsnks Teresa

  228. hi Kate,
    What a powerful description you are truly amaizing and your description of the day must mirror so many peoples experience. You inspire me as a knitter and also as a sonographer and radiographer, I will try to take a bit of your spirit to work with me each day.. Thank you

  229. Strangely I am up, sleepless, in the night as there is an unpleasant situation at my work, reading your account has made me think, more. So thankful to read your words and inspiration. You sound like such a strong person and I admire your courage.

  230. Kate, I just discovered you while I was searching for information on Shetland knitting. As it happens, I’m teaching myself to knit like Hazel Tindall, from the little bit of youtube footage available, because I have a nine year old who had a stroke sometime in her first three weeks. My little one has a stroke damaged right side, and I think she just might be able to learn to throw yarn with that right side, provided she has a knitting belt to carry the weight. I really appreciate your courage in sharing your experience, as it gives me insight into her experience. I’d love to know more about how you manage knitting, so I can better help her.

  231. This is an amazing piece of writing.
    My mother had a stroke, at an unreasonably young age, in good health, due to an undiagnosed hole in her heart. She was a gifted and loved first grade teacher, and the stroke took teaching away from her. She, my father, and the grown children went through a bereavement process as well. There really is a Before the stroke – life, and an After the stroke – life. You’re not dead, not ruined, but absolutely not the same person as before.
    My mom’s recovery has been nothing short of amazing; after a period of depression and re-calibration, she went after her new life with enthusiasm. She learned how to quilt, knit, embroider, she goes walking every day, she would often comment on how remarkable the brain was, to make new connections. Acquaintances and non-family members think she is back to her old self, minus the teaching.
    She is just like you, though. She has a hard time with noise, and exhaustion, she gets confused easily when tired, she has residual drooping and numbness, and she says she just feels wrong, like you wrote. Also like you said, you’re in recovery for the rest of your life. It just never ends. There are always stupid, damn fiddly things and big, problematic, even more damned awful things. Some days are just rotten, period. But having my mom still here is a gift beyond words, and I suspect your partner feels equally grateful for your life.
    Thank you for sharing your experience, and for your marvelous website. Thank you for the joyful art you put out into the world. May you get that back a hundred fold.

  232. I have been reading your blog for only a few months and was not aware of your stroke. Having read this post (and although I have never heard you speak, I can imagine your accent) in your words describing the experiences of the last year, I am reminded to truly enjoy and treasure the here and now. You are a fantastically amazing woman, and your Tom sounds like a dear as well. Thank you. Cheers from Gabriola Island!

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About Kate Davies

writer, designer and creator of Buachaille (100% Scottish wool)