Insurance said I recovered as much as I could within a few months of my stroke, but I knew I could do more. I knew I would have to work hard, but my recovery was going to be worth every ounce of effort I put into it. It was necessary to improve beyond what I had suddenly been reduced to. Even with all of my hope, I never had the expectation that I would be back to 100% of where I was before my cerebral vascular accident (CVA). Did I want it back? Desperately! But, I also had to accept reality.
The reality, from the viewpoint on my hospital bed, was that I would never get everything back. Although, being a young stroke victim did offer a unique path to becoming a stroke survivor. I still am not graceful when I make a feeble attempt to jog, but at least I walk. My eyesight is completely missing on the left peripheral. Yet, through this I’ve come to realize a vision for a positive future has nothing to do with what your eyes see; rather, it is what your heart, mind, and soul can create for a reality.
I completely agree with C.S. Lewis. I learned. My God did I ever learn. I am extremely grateful I had this brutal teacher of life offer me these experiences. Growing up with epilepsy, I never would have thought I could have seizures which would nearly end my life. I never would have been able to comprehend the idea of brain surgery. I never understood what a stroke was. Why should’ve I? No one young faces things like these. (At least, that was the innocence I used to maintain.) I faced brutal teachers.
Yet, these battles have created an inner strength I never could have imagined. Within these unfortunate experiences, I have learned so much about our brains and bodies. I truly believe it is not only a need but also a gift to help share these life lessons and teach others who are in the midst of facing the brutal teachings life is throwing their way. I have learned. Now it is my hope, desire, and –might I even say- responsibility to help others through this unpredictable journey known as life.
After reading my post A View of My World , the editor of Stroke Connection Magazine, Jon Caswell, wrote me the following message: “I read your article and I have a question. At the end you distinguish between vision and eyesight and I didn’t understand the distinction. Can you clarify that for me?”
I appreciate questions for clarification and would like to share my answer with everyone:
Thank you for taking the time to ask your question. In my post-stroke world, I feel there is a significant difference between the words “vision” and “eyesight”.
Eyesight is a common word meaning what we are able to view/see. This definition portrays a noun. My usage of the word “vision” is a verb. In this regard, it is derived from an old French word meaning being seen within an imagination. I was attempting to find a better way yet to describe it but decided to head to the trusty dictionary. Here is what Merriam-Webster offered: “2 a: the act or power of imagination b (1): mode of seeing or conceiving (2): unusual discernment or foresight <a person of vision>”
You see, I lost a lot of my eyesight. I woke up in a hospital bed and only saw darkness. I lost the ability to see anything in my room. Immediately, I became upset when nurses and well-meaning friends would show concern and pain for the “vision” I lost. I do not know why, but even from that early stage of recovery I knew there was a powerful difference between eyesight and vision. I still had vision. To me, vision held hope. I could not see the walkers physical therapy assistants wheeled in my direction, but I could see the opportunity to get stronger and walk again someday. I held a vision. I could not see the aides I was trying to make smile, but I could hear the hope in their voices when they responded to my jokes. I had a vision I would come back and train them to foresee and better meet the needs of their patients.
I did eventually have enough eyesight to see that walker. I saw it be put away into a closet when I was strong enough to never need it again. I did have eyesight to look the aides in the eye and see the hope they were developing. I went back months later upon an invitation to train them about my experiences. I did not have the eyesight originally, but I still had vision which lit my path. With the vision I held, I was able to continue to hope and evolve my dreams into a new reality.