well-being

A post for my own benefit, and for those of you who are interested in how I’m managing, health-wise.

On a routine visit to my GP yesterday, she pointed out that it was the first time I’d been to see her since May. Given the regularity of my visits to her surgery over the past two and a half years, this is an unusual but entirely happy state of affairs. So, it occurred to me yesterday that I am, in general, doing much better of late. This does not mean that I am recovered or anything: I still get hit with the occasional horrible, crushing bout of post-stroke fatigue; I still find ‘noisy’ public situations difficult and tiring; I still suffer from sharp, intrusive headaches and have weird moments of vertigo; I still limp about with a tiresomely unreliable left leg and have to sleep ten hours a night to have any hope of managing the next day — but I am certainly managing. Tom puts it this way: the bad days are still as bad, but there seem to be less of them. Reflecting on how I’ve handled the past (extremely busy) few months, I genuinely feel that I have turned some sort of a corner. The key difference, or perhaps shift, is this: I don’t have to always think about how I am feeling. Because my energy levels were so low, I was constantly having to weigh up each day’s activities in terms of their inevitable toll. An afternoon would often turn on an impossible equation (you can cook a meal or take Bruce for a walk, but not both ) and there was no space around these (incredibly basic) getting-by activities for anything that would, in my new world, count as work (reading, designing, thinking, writing, responding to email, a trip to the post office). As well as being physically debilitating, suffering from any sort of chronic health condition takes up an awful lot of mind space. If you are thinking about how much energy you have left, or how much pain you are in, you really don’t have the resources to think about much else. I suppose all that I am saying is that I feel that I have more of those resources.

On reflection, I think this recent feeling – of being a bit more capable – probably combines two factors: first, the actual incremental improvements in my condition that I continue to observe, and second, my adjustment to the realities of my post-stroke ‘normal’ — by which I mean that I am much better, and much more rigorous, at making sure I have the right amount of sleep (this really is the key for me), at eating regularly to maintain my energy, at limiting the number of things that I say ‘yes’ to, and at just fitting the right amount of stuff into each day. Put simply, I take care of myself so that I can manage to do the things that are important to me. I suppose, really, this is a basic rule of well-being, that anyone, not just someone who has had a stroke, might adhere to.

97 responses

  1. It’s deeply pleasing to read this post Kate. I hope the bad days get further and further apart.
    (ps congrats to Tom on his new job!)

  2. Very wise words. It reminds me of the Wordsworth poem:

    The world is too much with us; late and soon,
    Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
    Little we see in Nature that is ours;
    We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
    This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
    The winds that will be howling at all hours,
    And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
    For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
    It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
    A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
    So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
    Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
    Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
    Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

    Although he was referring more specifically to losing touch with nature, I think it also applies to our need to fill most of our time with “doing” rather than reflecting on the good stuff. Happy that you are feeling better.

  3. O that is lovely to hear!! Being poorly is quite a lonely experience in the unsharability of it all. You must know, respect and allow what is good for you. I wish you all the best in your recovering health adventure. Anna

  4. It is great to hear that you are feeling this way and your words have made me take a look at my own life. Thank you for all that you do that puts a bright spot in my life when I need it – you just don’t know that you do it!

  5. Thank you for this update. It is good news, indeed. I share the other commenters’ hopes that your good days continue to increase and continue to outnumber the bad days. I’m looking forward to the photos you share for more of your walks (and knitting). Hugs to Bruce.

  6. Such happy news. So many good wishes for continued health and happiness are being sent to you from around the world this morning as we read it. I take to heart the message and lessons of reflection, observation, prioritizing, and perseverance that you impart. You continue to amaze and inspire me.

  7. That’s wonderful, glad to hear it… we are all hoping your bad days get father and father apart and more and more manageable. It’s sad that you have had to adjust to this, but so wonderful that you’ve been able to… to future health and happiness.

  8. So true!! I can totally relate to that. And I am glad you are getting better and better, healthwise. I also hope the best for you and Tom concerning his new job – sounds exciting!

  9. I would also like to share in the rejoicing and communal good wishes that are coming your way. Your perseverance and common sense have put you on this upward spiral, may it steadily bear you onwards.

  10. I am so happy to hear that you are gaining, and the balance has tipped to fewer “bad” days.

    You describe and define things so well. As someone who deals with chronic pain issues, I have learned the importance of choosing how to best muster and use my abilities, day to day. (Not that I always do this effectively, mind you – just that I’ve learned the importance!)

  11. Although I dearly wish that you could “magically” just recover from a stroke and be your old self, I am so glad to hear that you are finding it somewhat easier to manage and seem to have settled into a new you.
    I send you love an support for your bad days, all the way from Ontario, Canada, and hope that this upward trend continues :)
    Congrats to your hubby on his new job and all the best if/when you make the big move to be closer to his work.

  12. I heartily concur with your last couple of sentences. Although I have never had anything as major as a stroke, I have suffered on and off from depression for years. I find the key is absolutely to take care of oneself and pay attention to the warning signs. It can be so frustrating when your heart is yearning to do more than your body or mind can really handle but in the long run it pays off in spades. Really glad to hear there are fewer bad days and looking forward very much to seeing your collection when it’s ready.

  13. As your health has improved your blog has become more varied and positive and your photos even more delightful.
    Good for you for turning a health blip in a new direction careerwise.
    After a long gap you have inspired me to get out my needles again and try to improve my skills rather than do the same old, same old!
    I’m still not very good but at least I’m having a go and loving it.
    I love hearing about Bruce too.

  14. great to hear you are feeling well, and have worked out a way of managing day to day life. lovely pictures as always – hope you enjoyed the wildness of the last couple of days – sad to see trees and branches down, but exciting to be out in the whirling and swirling winds.

  15. Lovely news.
    And yes, I feel like in my 40s I am finally coming to grips with the non-negotiables of self-care. I could maybe get away with ignoring exercise and sleep and healthy food in my 20s, but no more. Not just for physical health, but for sanity’s sake.

  16. Dear Kate,

    it’s good to hear how you are getting on. What you write reminds me a lot of my mum, who had breast cancer two years ago and since that point of time, is forced to take so much more care of herself than she did during the past decades. – I guess, a lot of ‘healthy’ people feel obliged to say ‘yes’ to far too many things.

    Carry on, I wish you lots of luck, all the strength and energy you need and enough hope to get through the bad days.

    All the best from Germany,
    Alex

  17. I liked your expression, ” I don’t have to always think how i am feeling” It seems that you are making the best of a situation that you were dealt with. Onwards and upwards girl! And….. You passed on some of your strength to me!

  18. Good news ! Glad to hear it. It can’t be easy making those decisions on whether to do this or that, and I am so glad the days are getting better! Just in time for fall, a nice time of reflection and contemplation, too.

  19. I agree with you; my main goal is to overcome my lifelong, severe skin issues; staying away from ALL processed products, the martial arts I do–internal and external–and a daily dose of transcendental meditation, have all helped me to keep focused until these issues all go away…forever:)

    jonwatersauthor.com

  20. So glad you’ve ‘turned a corner’! Such good advice for everyone too – listen to your body and give it what it needs, when it needs it! love and hugs x

  21. Bravo, Kate! I recovered from anorexia many years ago (before anyone knew what it was or how to diagnose it: it was only retroactively diagnosed decades later by a doctor who had asked a leading question and then said, “you weighed WHAT?–that was clearly anorexia”). I still monitor my energy. Sleep and nutrition are still keystone elements in my days. And, in the long run, I’m glad to have learned to put them in that location.

    I do have another book for you, and if you have any difficulty finding a copy (it’s a U.S. release–also now available in audio, read by the author, who does a fine job) drop me an e-mail with your address and I’ll get it to you. It is lovely, and I think you will find it a good companion for your journey. It’s Walking Nature Home, by Susan J. Tweit. Susan did not (thank heaven) have a stroke, but she was given a short-term terminal prognosis in her twenties, without a clear diagnosis. She had to learn her own path through this, and has done so. She’s also an exquisite writer. There’s more to say. But let me know if you’d like help finding it, and if so whether audio or print. (I think it may also be available for e-readers, but that’s not my world {grin}.)

  22. The process of recovering from any major illness is turning many corners on a path of if not total recovery but at least a better level of wellness, and it’s good to hear that you have turned one of yours, Kate. In recovering from breast cancer, my turning moment came when I realized I no longer thought of myself as a “cancer survivor”, but just me again. It made a great difference to me not to define myself with my illness, but just to go on as well as I could in the aftermath. Thank you for sharing your thoughts during your recovery. You are helping more people than you will ever know.

  23. You’re finding your balance, which is quite an accomplishment. However, I swear you still get way more than myself accomplished each day, so don’t be discouraged! You’re one impressive lady, Kate

  24. Today is my first day of your blog. So sorry to hear you have had such bouts of ill health. I too have had a few bouts. One of my mainstays in recovery has been my EGA girls. A group of friends and members of nearly thirty years.Beside family they kept me going. Once again it seems that the powers of our chosen work be it needle work or knitting etc seems to play a powerful part in our recovery. I think we tend to lose our aches and pains while concentrating on the work at hand. I have noticed people who do not have such interests and hobbies are far more likely to harp on their illness. Keep up the good work. I love the photos of your work and your location. .

  25. Glad to hear that more days than not are good. You’ve always amazed me with your activities even when you thought they weren’t enough or up to par. Hugs to Bruce and a handshake to your man Tom.

  26. The way you are coping and the beautiful creations you come up with – it never seizes to amaze me. It makes me happy to hear that something is shifting for you.

    Health issues can become so big. Having my own restrictions to cope with, along with many others here, I know exactly what it is like to have to think about how one feels so much (too much) as you put it so well.

    Coping is the key, yes, getting accustomed. Accepting, non-judgemental accepting.

    I really like everything you do ever so much and hope your journey uphill continues to do just that!

  27. Hurrah! I am pleased that there are more good days than bad days – long may that continue. being kind to yourself is really important and hard to achieve. Taking care of yourself is something so important and it is really surprising how few people do it. I’m always amazed if I get enough sleep and eat healthily for a bit at how different it does make you feel. X

  28. I’m glad to hear that! And looking forwards to meeting you during the Wool Week. I was amazed this morning, when I called the musuem to confirm and pay for the session Monday afternoon – when I said I called from Norway, I got a Norwegian speaking lady on the phone, Kathy.

  29. Cheers!!!!!!!!! I was so pleased to read your last posting. You are an inspiration to us all. Thank you and keep up the good work……..am sure Bruce is helping :)

  30. What great news! It amazes me how often we tend to ignore those very simple facts…it takes time. Plain and simple. It takes time to embrace a new way of life after something so detrimental. I am glad that you are doing so well. I am glad that your bad days are diminishing and that you are listening closely to your body. It was created to give us clues. Clues that we, as women. tend to ignore so often.

    Enjoy these days fully. Embrace these times completely. Blessings to you now and always!

    Maria

  31. yeah, the either/or focuses the mind marvelously. i have recently realized cooking is going to have to go. as i am very happy to eat a large bowl of frozen spinach for dinner, or cheese and crackers, it’s totally doable.

  32. It is always good to hear how you are getting on healthwise. I’m glad you have flipped into fewer bad days than good days, and have learned to manage your condition better. It’s a huge step to realise it all must be managed. It took me years to learn I should go to bed if I was tired! :)

    Fab photo btw.

  33. Glad you are healing. Celebrate the good days. Don’t fight the bad ones just adjust. I’m still adjusting 13 years post stroke. But the good days are more frequent than the bad.

  34. Very good news to hear.

    Regularity in sleep, eating, and so on may not be the norm for a lot of people – by this I mean staying up late, forgetting to eat, whatever. Any of those throw me for a loop. Bedtime, time to rise, time to eat all create patterns which form a structure around the rest of the day’s activities. Even when I was young, I learned to appreciate this rhythm, and now that I am older, I have added to that a nap after lunch, even if for only 15 minutes. It makes all the difference. And, when coupled with worthwhile activities, life is sweet, no matter what else intrudes. This doesn’t mean being rigid, but it is a great thing to remember if something gets thrown off track – oh! this is why I am …. (fill in the blanks).

    Keep up the good work! You made my day.

  35. Kate, your improvement is obvious from the perspective of a reader (me) who’s been following you through the whole ordeal (and enjoys reading archives of Needled) . Reading between the lines I guess. :)

  36. Such good news to hear, Kate.
    I am convinced there is a mysterious healing power in sleep that goes beyond even what science has long-ago declared it to provide. Of all the things I do for myself to maintain health (diet, exercise, stress minimizers, equanimity of mind) none of them hold a candle to the benefits and necessity of sleep for me. So I absolutely understand and empathize with how important it is for your health. Here’s to continued good heath and more and more good days!!

  37. thanks for sharing! i`m sometimes just tired of “weighing up each days activities”, your posts have been a great support to me during the last year!

  38. Interesting. You and I had strokes within days of each other and I feel the same sense of having just turned a corner. Your post reflects many of the sentiments touched on in a conversation with my husband just yesterday. Huh.

  39. That photo of you and Bruce is just perfection!!!!! It is a testament to your heroic perserverance; I hope we all can internalize your lessons and do just what we need and that which brings us value and pleasure – no more, no less.

  40. I was so happy to read that you are feeling better and that there are less bad days than before for you…..I think there is a time when all of us realises that we cant do all that we used to and we have to remind ourselves as we forget that time has passed and we have to take better care of ourselves…..
    I have also come to the conclusion (from experience) that these unexpected and traumatic experiences happen to us for a reason, some lesson we may have to learn. Who knows, maybe they help us to be better peoplein the end or teach us certain values, virtues…..
    I would like to thank you for your blog posts as they have connected me with fellow yarn lovers, knitters and with such beautiful parts of the UK …. I will be returning to visit my family in yorkshire after 11 years abroad and am really looking forward to visiting some of the places you have shown us in your beautiful pictures….. I cant wait to go and buy some of the fab yarns you have told us too !!!
    Thank you..

  41. Well done, Kate!!! And thank you for such an honest update on your progress. I have been fighting to manage chronic intractable migraines, and have come to where you are. Concentrating on what is important, getting enough sleep, eating well on a regular schedule, and for me remembering to drink lots of water. When the bad times hit, I now make room for them instead of fighting. They pass.

    You are doing such a great job with all of this. It may not be the life you had planned, but it certainly has become an interesting one!

  42. “suffering from any sort of chronic health condition takes up an awful lot of mind space. If you are thinking about how much energy you have left, or how much pain you are in, you really don’t have the resources to think about much else”

    This!
    Having had a small but life changing surgery this year and now being well, I totally get this!

  43. Glad to hear it, and remember: when there are bad things in your life you can’t get rid of, put more good things in. Cheers, Karen.

  44. I have been a silent reader for quite some time. I am especially impressed about how you are managing since your stroke and happy that you are getting more and more good days!

    “Put simply, I take care of myself so that I can manage to do the things that are important to me. I suppose, really, this is a basic rule of well-being, that anyone, not just someone who has had a stroke, might adhere to.”
    I agree with that. But I learned the hard way that it is not granted to be good and careful in associating with yourself. Technically this should be the easiest and most important thing in one’ s life but often people give the impression that this would be selfish. Since I am more “selfish” and like myself more I am much kinder to myself and as a consequence much better than before.

  45. One of the most valueable pieces of advice given to me (I was suddenly,unusual in it’s self, diagnoised with MS 6 yrs ago) was from my Neurologist (a top Neurologist from Addenbrooks Hospital Cambridge) he said…’get to know your own personal limits energywise and stay within them…then you will be able regain some of your life back’. Forget what everyone else tells you.
    He was sooo right.

  46. Such good news! I’m glad that the combination of sheer physical improvement with better management is leading you to feeling good more often. Because health is just that, feeling good, more than the mere absence of disease.

  47. I am so glad that you have found that balance between doing what you realistically can, rather than what you think you ought to be able to do. It doesn’t come easily for someone who has always been busy!!

  48. I felt your contentment coming through your words today. By that, I mean you are so grateful for the progress your body and mind have made . I sense the time now spent in connecting very simply with nature and the simplicity of being made aware how complex our bodies and brains are…you have gone through a process of elimination. Now you are expressing and living in the manner in which your creativity and talents are being fueled by the desire to work and use them…your former employment probably didn’t allow as much attention. You truly have made lemonade from the lemons and your have the love and support of a partner and your companion Bruce! Your awareness, not necessarily what you would choose to have happened in your life, has been your healing partner and you have helped many others heal and take courage on their own behalf when dealing with pain and disappointment. I am cheering you on and each day I read your posts I remind myself to be grateful and take time to look at nature’s abundance that is there for me every single day.

  49. That’s wonderful to hear. I have read your posts about all your doings this summer with marvel and deep respect. I’m not sure I’d managed what you have.
    I hope the bad days will be fewer and farther between and that your balance will keep being level.
    It is good advice to remember to treat your body right, because it will serve you so much the better for it.

  50. I am glad you are feeling better and looking back at what you have achieved while dealing with all of this, you should be immensely proud of yourself. No wallowing in self pity or giving up for you. I believe your energy and determination has helped your recovery, I am in awe. Putting yourself first doesn’t always mean selfishly doing all you want to do, you have to do less to achieve more…difficult for such a dynamic person.

  51. I absolutely agree!!! Learning to take care of yourself and acknowledging physical/emotional limitations is a learning we all need to achieve in this world of ours. Sounds like your stroke provided the perfect learning environment for this!!! And you’re certainly achieving it!!! Good job!

  52. Dear Kate, I think back to the day you cursed as you bounced down the mountain on your bum. I am really glad you no longer need to be so Fierce. (Though you wouldn’t be where you are without that quality.) This ease becomes you. And, so many people are so glad for you; let that be another source of well being for you.

  53. Hey this is great news… glad you are still going strong, you are a true inspiration. I am so happy to be touched by your willingness to open up about your life. Also by your endless creativity… Glad you have great support family and a whole loads of knitted friends to explore it all with you.

  54. Well done on what you have achieved over this last year, it is easy to take for granted what you already have, only realising the importance of it when it taken away – the only way is forward!

  55. Kate, you continue to inspire and amaze. And thank you for sharing these latest insights, which really are helpful to all people as reminders about how to maintain (and monitor!) everyday well-being. All my best wishes for a continued recovery.

  56. Dear Kate, you are a inspiration to my knitting. I hope you get well very soon, and I’m happy to hear that you are doing a little better. There is always a light for each of us and we just have to have hope. All my best wishes for you,
    many hugs
    Sabrina

  57. It sounds like you’ve reached the stage where you’re able to judge a little better what you are capable of doing, and once you add in feeling better also then life does seem that bit easier. Your recent posts have seemed more work-focussed and that’s great because you’re clearly getting on with what you love doing. So it’s boo-hiss to chronic illnesses, and yay to knitting and designing!

  58. I have dropped away from blog reading for a few months. It is wonderful to hear such good news of your progress upon my return. I realize we don’t know one another but I have been following your blog and pulling for you from afar.

  59. Stroke recovery is about motivation and you have it in spades…I was concerned about your recovering your ability to knit…and look at your lovely post-stroke fibery works! Take best care,

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