Brave Enough to Try Something I'm Bad At.

Monday, September 21 2020, 2:56PM

Determination and perseverance are two words that seem to get bandied about quite a bit when talking about stroke recovery. Whilst they are essential I think it is just as important to have the personal insight to recognise when what you are trying to achieve isn’t worth the effort you are putting in.

For me this realisation came about when I decided I ‘should’ relearn how to ride my bike. I felt like a kid as we found a bit of road that was smooth and fairly flat. My husband, Nick, held my bike as I unglamorously struggled to get my leg over the bar and then, success, I was seated! But what to do next? I couldn’t lift both legs off the road without Nick having to catch me so he held onto the back of the seat as I wobbled forward. I tried to move the pedals up and down but, despite having done the same action on my exercise bike, couldn’t coordinate them so that one leg was up and the other down.

We tried for what felt like forever but realistically would have been no more than 5-10 minutes. The concentration required was immense and that was before I tried to get off. I’m sure if we’d been recording it my dismount would have made me viral. It started with me being supported by Nick as he also tried to hold the bike and ended with both me and the bike on the ground. I felt a bit like a marionette, with the strings being pulled by various people who weren’t in sync with each other. Nick helped me walk inside where I made my way to the couch. It took me two days to get over the effect of that short time and it was then that I decided it really wasn’t worth the effort. Due to my sensory overload issues I knew I’d never go for a bike ride and so it wasn’t an important activity to relearn.

I’ve taken a similar approach to reading. I’ve loved books all my life but my stroke means I can no longer follow storylines. My biggest disappointment would be that whilst I could read and edit my daughter’s thesis on autism and music therapy I didn’t really understand it. I can read short newspaper articles, though it fatigues me, but I am happy with that. I decided I didn’t want to spend time recovering from trying to read and retain a storyline. I decided I’d rather expend that energy on relearning to knit, to draw, to walk outside in the bush…The list doesn’t stop there but it’s my list, my choice, my decisions.

Am I giving up by making these choices? Hell no! I’m brave enough to try things I’m bad at and will persevere at what is important to me. That’s why today after doing a plank and push ups with my feet on a fit ball I attempted to roll the ball towards my chest. The carpet below me swirled and in slow motion I fell off the ball. I’ve since spent a couple of hours recovering on the couch. Will I try on another day? Definitely! Again, my choice.

It can be hard when you have people saying, “you should do this, you should do that,” but each of us owes it to ourselves to decide what is important and to use our energy towards that end.