My relationship to music and rhythm has altered over the past few weeks. One of the bizarre and unaccountable effects of the stroke was that I appeared to lose my musical ear. My Dad is a musician; I grew up playing several instruments, and, in one way or another, music has always played a significant role in my life. Like many people, there is often a song in my head, and when I’m pottering about on my own, I like to whistle or hum it. A week or so after having the stroke, I was in the hospital shower and tried to sing. I was distressed to discover that I couldn’t find a melody and that all that came out of my mouth were tuneless ramblings. I tried to put this problem to the back of my mind: there were more pressing issues to deal with, and an acute ward is no place for singing practice. However, on my first weekend home, I put on Ella Fitzgerald, tried joining in with “The Frim Fram Sauce” and found that I couldn’t sing a note. I also noticed a few other odd sensory effects, which I suppose may have been related to this phenomenon: I often had a ringing or whooshing in my ears and perhaps because of this, I did not really enjoy listening to music at all. Also, my sense of smell was heightened to a most peculiar degree and odours that I would usually have found pleasant to encounter became almost unbearable. Now, I have not read any research about this, but I am assuming that the monkeys at the controls in my head had become somehow confused. Perhaps there was some injury to the sensory, as well as the motor part of my brain, or perhaps the monkeys were too distracted rewiring my leg and arm to pay any attention to my olfactory or musical abilities.


(Gibbon)

But, unlike re-learning my motor skills, it appears that the monkeys don’t actually have to teach me to smell or sing again. As time has gone on, these sensory anomalies seem to have simply faded away. The bad smells and weird sounds have disappeared; I’ve begun enjoying listening to music again, and I can now sing along to Stevie Wonder or whistle the theme from the Hebrides Overture with no problem at all. Happy day! Yet while my melodic faculties appear to be intact, the same cannot be said of my physical timing. I aint got rhythm.

My gait is irregular and fitful. It has taken me a while to get used to the new brace and stick, and for a good few days after their introduction, my steps with these assistive technologies remained lolloping and camel-like . Once I’d got used to them, I progressed to a kind of ungainly waltz, the stick leading the way on the first beat in the bar. This week’s great achievement is that, after hours of grueling strengthening work on my hip and upper leg, I can now manage to move forward without dragging my left foot. At their best, and for around a hundred metres, the stick and the legs now work together in neater and comparatively natural 2/4 time. So there is some progress here. But, despite many dextrous advances, the gross movement in the left arm remains worryingly uncoordinated. In an effort to correct it, I’ve joined the Astley’s upper body exercise class. It really has taken a great deal for me to do this: I’ve never been to an exercise class in my life and despite the public silliness you see displayed here on a regular basis, I am in reality a rather private person. Throwing shapes in company is not really my idea of fun. Added to which is the problem that, at the moment, my left arm has diminished function, very little strength, and an unfortunate mind of its own. Sometimes it wants to join in with whatever the right arm is doing; other times it just refuses to play at all. Anyway, to be frank about it, I’ve been too ashamed of my left arm’s erratic behaviour to go to this class, despite the encouragement of my therapists and my pals on the ward. But I gathered my resolve and went along for the first time on Thursday morning. It was pretty horrendous. This was not because of the atmosphere: the physios are uniformly brilliant and the usual gym banter is enhanced by the presence of the blokes from ward 1, who are always good for a laugh. The class was so difficult because, however hard I try, I just can’t move my arm in time. As the class is conducted to the sounds of jangly 70s disco, a basic sense of bodily rhythm is pretty much essential.

While everyone else was “mowing the lawn” and “doing the crawl” to the beat of Ra Ra Rasputin, I was flailing about in a manner that was unpredictable and woefully out of time. So I did not enjoy the class at all but however unpleasant I found the experience, I also knew that no one was judging me for not being able to dance like a diva, and that the only way the arm was ever going to regain rhythmic function again was through practice. So I’ve put my feelings of ignominy to one side. I returned to the class on Friday and shall continue to attend this week in the hope that, with the assistance of Bony M, bilateral rhythm will at some point return.

In other news

1. The highlight of my day is opening the post. This generally turns up at lunchtime, and is a far more welcome arrival than the food. I love to read your cards and letters and it cheers me immensely to look at the jolly display they make on my institutional pinboard and shelves. At some point I will say more about the profound effect your correspondence has had on me, but for now, a giant THANKYOU to you all.

2. The grey complexion of institutional daily life has been made immeasurably rosier by two members of ward staff who fully understand my fondness for tea. These women refer to me as the Tea Jenny (a fine Scots moniker) and humour me with the regular provision of a full pot instead of a meagre beaker. If you’ve spent any time in hospital, you will know that there is never enough tea, and that some members of staff (whose approach to ward culture and protocol can be worryingly similar to that of Kim Jong-Il) assert their power by restricting the consumption of tea within strict measurements and guidelines. Is it coincidence that my kind tea givers also happen to be knitters? I think not.

3. Last night, I watched a film that really annoyed me. Though I did not enjoy the film, the annoyance I felt while watching it was strangely reconfirming and really made me feel like me again. Hurrah! I’ll try and write another post about this if my hand holds out today.

71 thoughts on “I got rhythm

  1. This is my first time to your page. I did not realize what you were going through. My thoughts are with you and your recovery. So here’s sending you positive energy from Texas. Thank you for being so courageous and sharing your journey with us. Keep strong Kate.

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  2. you’re a wee star! Do you realise how much you brighten up all of our lives – and how humble we feel? At least I do – I am off to do some housework that I have ben putting off all morning and am ashamed of my lazy thoughts – I will just get on with it as you do – I love the poem that Marina sent you – sort of describes you really………..

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  3. Please write a book about your experiences! You are a gifted observer and writer….
    I can so clearly picture your pot of tea in the ward and the knitting nurses!

    Annie

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  4. Two unrelated info-nuggets:

    There’s a very nice lady in Newark, Delaware named Linda who’s trying to get a hold of you. She messaged you via ravelry. I’m not sure if she remembered to message your blog as well. I reminded her, but she is a busy girl!

    I am thrilled that Boney M. exists on someone else’s radar. I discovered ‘Rasputin’ when I was visiting Madrid in the summer of ’99. I’m American and the band never made it over here. The song was brilliant enough that I inflicted my mediocre Spanish upon several CD shop clerks until someone gave me the CD. Eleven years and two broken jewel cases later, that song is one of my very favorite tunes on my iPod. I applaud both your and your PTs’ excellent taste.

    For a song with a good beat and a slower tempo, I like ‘Let me blow ya mind’ by Eve and Gwen Stefani. I used it for weight lifting in college. You may also like the album ‘Decksanddrumsandrockandroll’ by the Propellorheads. It’s delightful, peculiar, and sort of sexy if you’re a music nerd.

    Best wishes to you and all of yours.
    Josie

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  5. I have been reading your blog for quite some time now. I have SO APPRECIATED your brilliant mind, your explorations in nature and your appreciation of life and those gifts which translate into knitted creations of unimaginable quality. The news of your stroke affected me deeply, as I had an accident 7 years ago which left me with a mild traumatic brain injury. Knitting helped me to recover from the loss of my former self. I have been told that it takes at least two years for the brain to heal…. and so it does eventually heal. Your bravery and lack of acceptence of living a life that is less than all that it can be is truly an inspiration.
    I wish for you the quickest and most complete recovery.

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  6. Hello again Kate ~ Hey, I’ve admired your Neepheid, among other delicious designs, for some time, and only just now thought to purchase it and knit it. It is my first ever downloaded on-line pattern. In fact, I really have never used a full pattern from start to finish before, ever (and I’ve been knitting a while). So, let it be that your Neepheid will be a real learning experience for me ! Here’s to learning together :-) ~Jen

    ~Jen

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  7. If you’re a Tea Jenny, well then, I have become one in your honor ! Weaning myself from so much coffee, I’ve become very fond of EarlGrey w/ Bergamot ! I use to just make myself cups (leaf, not bags) of English Breakfast, but I’ve evolved to the lovely fragrance and psychological lift of the EarlGrey. I’m wondering what tea is your favorite.

    I am trying my hardest to imagine your frustration in progress, but, there is no progress without frustration. And that goes beyond what you’re enduring, and to most walks of life (if you’ll laugh at the pun please ;-) I infact, in perimenopause, have so much frustration and seeming setbacks on an almost daily basis ! Still, I will walk the mtn today and think of you walking yours. And you *will* indeed get on that mountain face again, learning, when after you’ve mastered your gait, you need to then rebuild your muscles for climbing again. Be reassured Kate, that muscles do have memory, and your fitness will come back sooner than you think ! Until then, laugh if you can, about the apparent new personality of your Left Arm (or is it right? Forgive me for not remembering) … and how your melodic voice has taken a short vacation. If I were there with you, I’d sing off key, and make you laugh at me ! Btw, I’d like to know what instruments you play, but will wait until a time you can tell me, as it is sure you’ll never have less than 400 penpals all at once !

    From California Mtns,
    ~Jen

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  8. Hello Kate,
    I have just found your blog, and I am enjoying your witty writing, but not your sad story about your stroke. I am not going to read all the comments, so I will just ask you, have you read “My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey” by Jill Bolte Taylor? (Sorry about the punctuation, the program apparently won’t let me underline or italicize!)

    The reason I ask is that about 4 1/2 years ago I had a tumor and surgery (the tumor is called an acoustic neuroma) and many of the symptoms and results I had (and still have) are the same or very similar to those of stroke. My book club chose this book just before the holidays, and I wish I had read it years ago! The most encouraging thing I learned from her book was that even after 8 years she is still healing and improving. All my doctors have told me I probably won’t gain any more function (read that: don’t keep trying!), but I am now ignoring that bad advice! I went through much of what Jill Taylor went through, though I think I wasn’t as ill as she was, and really appreciated reading her solutions to things.

    By the way, I’ve been very reluctant to go to an exercise class for the same reasons you felt awkward about your arm. My solution has been to purchase a Nintendo Wii Fit and it has helped some, even though I’ve only been doing it since the beginning of this year. You might enjoy trying it as well.

    I am, by the way, a recently retired teacher of literature, writing and history for gifted (top 10% or so) middle schoolers, and now as a 61-year-old woman I’m enjoying the right side of my brain–painting, mixed media, the computer, and lots and lots of knitting and quilting. I still have some facial paralysis and have lost all my hearing on the left side (the reason I retired), and have some vestibular problems, but life is good. Exercise and good health are still a struggle, but I’m able to travel some and garden. I have lost the ability to match a pitch, but my singing voice is slowly coming back. I have trouble reading the music and playing the piano still, but will work on it. This musical loss is very sad to me, but since I’ve learned that it can be at least partially regained, I feel better about it.

    I also want to mention that I have visited Edinburgh several times, and have very fond memories of our adventures there, and think surely I will return one day. I wish you good fortune in your endeavors, and will continue reading your blog with great hopes of your continued improvement.

    PS No way would nurses here ever bring a pot of tea! In fact one often has to wait longer to get tea, since coffee is the more common drink!

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  9. Too funny! I’m glad the little monkeys are starting to get their acts together. After having watched the resident two-year-old develop a sense of rhythm over the course of the year, I’m sure the time will come when you can march to the beat of any drummer. Personally, I think a 3/4 time is more natural than most disco beats. Perhaps they should try a strathspey? And you’re too right about the tea. It only comes in styrofoam cups here. I applaud the nurses who bring it to you in pots.

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  10. Kate,

    I am so pleased that you have gotten your musical mojo back. The physical rhythm is surely not far behind. Soon you will be shaking your booty in time with the music and waving your arms in the air like you just don’t care (a disco memory from my past!)

    xoxo

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  11. It is so inspiring to read about your progress. Keep plugging away and remember that there are so many people drawing inspiration from your courage, and frankness in telling us about your feelings. Yes, those friendly tea ladies must be knitters.
    Janet

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  12. I recently heard an interview with Roseanne Cash (daughter to Johnny Cash)on NPR. She talks about her brain surgery in 2007,which was by all accounts successful. However, it did affect her ability to experience music in the same way she did prior to the surgery. Gradually it has come back and she reports that only recently has she begun to truly enjoy music again. Must have been tremendously frustrating for someone for whom music is so strongly related to identity. I’m glad that your sensory issues are resolving. And I do have to say I love the imagery of the monkeys.

    Filmwise, I don’t know that its available in the UK but I recently saw a wonderful independent documentary on the “Young at Heart” chorus called “Young at Heart”. It’s a concert film about a “senior” choir based in Northampton, MA, US. I saw the choir perform a few years ago and found the show to be a profoundly moving experience and was thrilled to see they had inspired a film. It’s inspiring and will make you both laugh and cry and as someone who is struggling with these entirely unexpected bodily limitations, I think you will find the spirit of these characters as they soar above the expectations and percieved limits of age to be quite wonderful. Here’s a bit more about it at the “official” film website. http://www.foxsearchlight.com/youngatheart/

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  13. My dad had this Theodore Roosevelt quote up: “Far better is it to dare noble deeds and win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” (to the best of my memory that was it.)

    I’m one who really never could dance disco, so if I was in that class after a stroke, it would be like the joke, “doctor, after my cast is off will I be able to play the violin?” “yes, certainly” “good! I always wanted to.”

    I am glad the music is back. There are folks with memory/dementia illnesses who remember nothing but songs. It seems to have a specific location in the brain.

    Hoping that each day brings you something, tea, music, kindness, that keeps you going!

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  14. I have been reading about your trials and perseverance with so much admiration.

    Have you heard of the “young adult” (horrible label)novel Birdwing, by Rafe Martin? It springs from the old fairy tale The Wild Swans, about the princess who must knit nettle coats for her eleven brothers who have been turned into swans. As she is about to be burned at the stake (of course) she nearly finishes them and flings them into the air as the swans swoop down. The brothers become entirely human again, except for one of them: she had not knit one sleeve of one coat, so he now has a wing instead of an arm. In Birdwing, the what-happens-next installment of this story, the wing (and this is what made me think of you) causes him much trouble because it seems to have a mind of its own, popping out from under his cloak and thwacking things off tables and generally going its own way instead of his.

    This is a good novel, and you might enjoy it, but I am mostly mentioning it because I can see that you appreciate metaphors and analogies, and I wanted to offer you this one.

    Best wishes.

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  15. “whose approach to ward culture and protocol can be worryingly similar to that of Kim Jong-Il”

    That was the moment I laughed out loud at my desk. My co-workers are used to it by now (although the frequency has diminished since I stopped reading Television Without Pity at work).

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  16. IT COULD’NT BE DONE

    Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
    But she with a chuckle replied
    That “maybe it couldn’t,” but she would be one
    Who wouldn’t say so till she’d tried.
    So she buckled right in with the trace of a grin
    On her face. If she worried she hid it.
    She started to sing as she tackled the thing
    That couldn’t be done, and she did it.

    Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
    At least no one ever has done it”;
    But she took off her coat and she took off her hat,
    And the first thing we knew she’d begun it.
    With a lift of her chin and a bit of a grin,

    Without any doubting or quiddit,
    She started to sing as she tackled the thing
    That couldn’t be done, and she did it.

    There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
    There are thousands to prophesy failure;
    There are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
    The dangers that wait to assail you.
    But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
    Just take off your coat and go to it;
    Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
    That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

    Kate I came across this poem and thought of you; I did change the he to a she. I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like for you but I must tell you that you are amazing. You will succed in everything that you try to do because failure seems to be a word that is missing in your vocabularly.
    I am really enjoying knitting your Manu cardigan;we need more great patterns like this. Stay positive.

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  17. Left-handed tea drinking to Boney M actually sounds like it could be a fun activity in its own right. Keep on keeping on!

    All the best. Nicola.

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  18. Has Tom smuggled in some Yorkshire Tea for you? Maybe you could have it delivered in hot water bottles for a sneaky draft under the sheets, like something from a Carry On film – except that would have been whisky. Whisky! Have you lost your taste for that too?! Or don’t you know yet? Oh my – I do hope you don’t have a parade of “not with alcohol” pills to take. I hadn’t thought about that. Great to hear you are getting your groove back!

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  19. Hi Kate, you are so strong. My dad had a massive stroke attack a few years ago and it really devastates him and the entire family to this day. Your story just gives me hope and encouragement. Keep up your persistence with the therapies. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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  20. Dear Kate,

    I have been reading you’re blog for a while now, and I have to say that you have inspired me in more ways then I could ever express through words. Reading about your physical struggles and achievements is just as inspiring to me as reading about your wonderful knitting adventures, so thankyou!!!! Thankyou for opening up to us, for being honest, and for being you. I am usually to shy to post comments, but I just had to come out of my shell and let you know that I am rooting for you and sending all my positive energy your way…

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  21. I must say you are a brave soul LOL — I can’t dance on a “normal” day and it takes me forever just to follow moves in an exercise class, so I suspect you are ahead of me anyway! I did also like the diversion about the tea — somehow, one doesn’t think about not having your own tea/coffee at the ready in a hospital. I drink one or both all day, so I am now sure you are thrilled when you get your own!

    Please keep posting — we are all learning so much, and rooting for you , too!

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  22. There is another card wending its way across the world to you as we speak. I hope it brings a small measure of brightness to your day when it gets there, though it is a meagre thank you for the inspiration and joy I get from coming here and reading about your struggles and triumphs. Very heartening that the music has come back, and you can at least comprehend the music you bust your moves to!

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  23. Hello Kate
    Oh it is indeed a joy to read about your return to movement, each step hard won but so precious. Bring on the tea!
    Coasting across the oceans…Lydia

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  24. Your experiences have shed such a light on stroke recovery. Strokes run in my family, and the possibility of having one has always terrified me. I am certainly not eager for one, but your writing has put a real face on what happens. Your positive, humorous, and very human reactions give me great ease. Thank you.
    Nancy from California

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  25. I am so glad to hear about the progress–and so glad that your wry sense of humor appears undiminished and maybe even slightly fed by the absurdities that life doles out. please feel reassured by the fact that if you’d ever attended a reggae show in my part of the world, you would see a host of “able-bodied” dancers whose senses of timing appear unregulated by normal clocks …
    disco on!

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  26. Good to hear of more progress – your writings and insights on hospitalisation and your recovery should be compulsory reading for staff and patients alike, and your determination and courage would inspire others to keep going too. Best wishes for continued improvements.

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  27. I wanted to say something witty and inspiring, but that photo of Boney M has inflicted some damage! My down-the-street friend in Grade 4, Cari-Ann, had their Night Flight to Venus album and we worked out what we thought were disco moves, thankfully all now lost in the mists of time. Sounds like your eye (and now ear) for the absurd is serving you well as you recover – hang in there.

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  28. Kate, you are proceeding at a pace. I’m very relieved to hear that your cynical side (regarding popular culture) is intact. I raise my teacup to you in fond salute from the left coast.

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  29. I can’t do dance exercise on the best of days. I usually end up in a heap on the floor laughing at myself. I have no rythum or grace so you would never catch me in a jazzercise class.
    the music thing is odd and I am glad it is getting better for you. I did see on the news about a month ago a report of stroke patients that had trouble speaking and were using music therapy with great success. they were able to sing what they wanted to say even though they couldn’t find the words if they tried to speak normally.

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  30. Great to here from you again :)

    I’m completely fascinated by your description of the sensory malfunctions you experienced, from my neuroscientist perspective. I’m a lot more molecular than systems based so I’m sort of just musing, but it sounds as if you got damage to the inhibition circuits for your nose and ears… glad they recovered some balance though! Half my lab works on the effects to neurons caused by stroke – I think of you a lot these days when I’m sat in lab meetings.

    Be brave and keep up the good work, I know exactly what you mean by being embarrassed in front of people. I suppose getting drunk on ale and pretending it’s a Friday night dancing would be counter productive?

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  31. You had me worried for awhile there, thinking that you had *lost* music from your life — what a profound loss that would be, as you know — and in return had *gained* a disquieting sense of smell. A sigh of relief here when I read that those untoward symptoms had faded on their own. As many have said before me, it is the little things that make life enjoyable.

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  32. So glad to hear from you! And so glad to hear you can get enough tea – that would annoy me to no end, I sip tea all day, to be restricted to one cup?! Ack!

    Keep up the boogie oogie woogie, get that blood pumpin’! :)

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  33. good for you for just going to the class, no matter that you may temporarily look a bit deranged while attempting to dance. you’ll get better of course with time and hard work, that you know.
    keep it up! and tell us all about that annoying movie when you get a chance!

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  34. Apropos of nothing, whenever I hear of Boney M I can’t help but think of a scene from the film Touching the Void in which the injured mountaineer gets a song stuck in his head… “Bloody hell, I’m gonna die to BoneyM” clip:

    A good, harrowing film.
    Thinking of you while enjoying my tea,
    another Kate in California

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  35. Frim Fram sauce is one of my favorite jazz tunes, although my favorite version is by Diana Krall, the gal who is married to Elvis Costello.

    You might want to check out brainmusic.org, run by a Harvard neurologist who is interested in using music in rehab! Oh yeah, and George Martin (former Beatles producer) is on the advisory board!

    xoxo

    Wendy

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  36. You rock! I meant to comment on how much I loved both the hare and tortoise knit motif as well as your elegant extension of the metaphor. So happy to hear that so many parts of your true self are still able to find expression and that there are kindred spirits on the ward who keep you supplied with tea and other important things.

    On another note, you might enjoy reading books by Oliver Sachs. He’s a neurologist with a gift for words; most of his books focus on the strange ways that the brain recovers and rewires itself after trauma.

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  37. I second the recommendation of Oliver Sacks’s “Musicophilia” and am still smiling at memories you’ve evoked of exercise classes set to a disco beat. We played plenty of Boz Scaggs, too; I can’t even hear one song without recalling the entire routine.

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  38. I am so glad you can enjoy music the way you always have! I have tinnitus (along with other assorted hearing issues), so I am perpetually accompanied by a low fuzz that can rise to high pitched ringing, and at times it’s louder than the music I’m listening to or the person speaking to me. You are so lucky that your brush with this cacophony has come and gone and sound is as it should be!

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  39. After a musician friend of mine came out of a coma, the musical part of his brain stayed “asleep” for a few months. He described the same strange sensation of wanting to make music, but being unable. Gradually, it returned. Happily, the brain is plastic and really wants to do it’s job well. I guess it’s only by giving it the (frustrating) chance to make mistakes that it can start to relearn or wake up.

    It sounds like the tea-drinking tortoise is continuing her slow but steady recovery– with humor intact!

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  40. Ah, the wondrous effects of dance therapy..I think it’s a tad hysterical (and, as such, terribly appropriate!) that disco is their music of choice, but I’m sooo glad you’ve gone to the class and are determined to continue!
    Your progress is heartening, and like everyone else, I’m grateful you are able to share it with us.
    (((hugs)))

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  41. I think you probably still have more rhythm than I’ll ever have! My attempts to sing to Bob Dylan today were embarrassing to myself and probably to my whole family!

    P.S. you’ll be receiving at least one more card! Just need to find a post office…

    So glad you’re doing well.

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  42. If only I had a time machine to go back to the eighties and film my friend Jane when we went to an aerobics class – you would look graceful compared to her! The best part of the evening was when we went for a drink ‘on the way home’ – we actually passed the end of our street at the start of the walk to the pub!! I hope they are giving you Yorkshire tea – just because you’re in hospital doesn’t mean that you should have to lower your tea drinking standards!!

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  43. So immensely enjoyable, hopeful and instructive this blog post.
    As for tea, nurses themselves enjoy it a lot sometimes. Being a night nurse allows me to brew my own tea in a pot and sipping it as I like, a great liberty indeed…
    Your progress is steady but we cannot measure the effort it must take you!

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  44. Kate, I don’t usually reply to blogs but I feel I must write and tell you how wonderful I find yours. I love when I see that another needled post has appeared in my blog collection. I worked for years as a speech therapist although always with children. It has been fascinating, occasionally heart-breaking but always inspiring to read your comments. Thank you for sharing your experiences with all of us. And cheers to those knitting staff who keep you supplied with tea.

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  45. Restricting tea ?! Good grief. I’d class that as abuse. I’m so glad that you have tea angels.
    I’m sure that, at times, it doesn’t feel like it but you are doing so well. Working so hard. I am relieved that you have regained more of yourself, you musicality.
    Boogie on down ! Knit on !

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  46. wow, Kate. I know you’ve got your moments of frustration but I’m so impressed with how you’re striving forward. Leftie* will be back in action in no time!!

    (*I hope you don’t find that offensive! My little cousin who was born weighing only 1 lb. has ongoing issues w/ his left arm, it having a mind of its own much as you describe yours right now. Sometimes it just knocks things over and then he or we say “There goes Leftie again!” He hates if it people think he is doing it on purpose, so personifying the arm seems to have helped him not feel bad.)

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  47. I am so glad to hear that those strange effects of the stroke are receding. The brain is an amazing thing in both its strengths and its vulnerabilities. I hope the coming week goes well for you, and thanks again for sharing your experiences.

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  48. It’s late morning and as I finished up a few chores, I wondered if you had had a chance to post. I find myself, a relative stranger to you, thinking about you and your daily journey– the struggles and victories, and all the while sending you well wishes through the ethers.

    Was glad to read that you have a couple of care givers who are tea lovers (& knitters!). I love tea, but prefer iced tea (being from Texas and living in Georgia). The only time I was in the hospital, my husband had a thermos waiting for me when I came out of surgery because, as you noted, there is never enough tea–hot or otherwise! Take Care.

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  49. Such progress! How wonderful to have rhythm back; loss of rhythm would be an issue for me as well. That’s crazy about the tea, since it’s the simple pleasures that give one a sense of normalcy.

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  50. As it happens, I’m a musician who has done some research into the effects of stroke on musical ability. The broad technical term is “amusia” but it refers to a staggering number of musical deficiencies (both as a result of brain trauma and things which could be termed “learning disabilities.”) If you are interested in learning more, you might try Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks, which deals with music and the brain in a main stream publication, or you could try finding academic articles by Diana Deutcsh who is a pioneer in the field. I’m certainly glad to hear that your amusia has faded away. I can’t imagine the distress of no longer enjoying music!

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  51. Sitting here miles away in Chicago on a damp and gray to sunny morning and Delighted to find you have posted. As a result of your struggles, I am tuning into anything I hear or overhear about the brain and its beautiful plasticity and ability to regenerate. My yoga teacher is reading the book authored by the brain scientist lady who had an aneurysm that took her out while she was on the treadmill. She is up and running and lecturing and inspiring. I will send it onto you. If by chance you have received a dozen copies, then pass it on to the hospital staff or library or a fellow patient. Blessings on the coming week of personal hills and valleys. Best to you support team. I am a nurse, so I love to hear of wonderful medical support.

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  52. On a dreary Sunday morning you bring joy to the state of Virginia. Don’t forget to bitch and moan a bit in order to acknowledge the sheer suckiness of the situation; then back to the wonder of it all! I want to call my daughter “Tea Jenny” as she is with you all the way on the importance of good tea, knitting, and being an inspiration to me and to others as the struggle goes on.
    Much love.

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  53. Hoorah for the tea givers, I myself aim to be assertive in my tea distribution therapy, everywhere I go, despite extreme dissaproval ;-).

    Keep up the good work, and hope you get your mojo working bilaterally very soon

    x

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  54. I’m happy to hear you did stick out the first class and plan to return. You’re making progress and that is the point of all your PT, as well as the other therapies.
    My thoughts are with you throughout the day.
    Encouraging Hugs,
    Gerry

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  55. I attended a talk this week about cognitive theory, imagination, and memory, and we discussed the way that our body creates memory and thus reinvents it. It was a fascinating discussion, and I couldn’t help but think that A. you might have enjoyed it and B. your body is doing all of this in a concentrated timeline right now. So glad to hear that you’ve joined the class and continue to feel more like you again.

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  56. So happy to read of you on Sunday. I dance in an uncoordinated way to Boney M. all the time! Making the effort is so much of the battle.
    Tons of lovingkindness to you dear Kate.
    Chesley

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  57. Maybe these two knitting tea angels can sneak in a cat for some much-needed purr-therapy to complete the trinity. Best wishes always. You are amazing.

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  58. Just up and my first thought is to see if you had posted! So good to get these updates each week. Good for you for going back to the class, you are courageous and amazing Kate! Also glad to hear you have some allies there to help with some of the pleasures of life. You and Tom are in our thoughts often. Keep up the hard work dear one!

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