Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Dangers of Being Consistently Inconsistent

Pamela Hsieh
19 September, 2015

I have something to confess.

All these years I’ve been blogging, I’ve been doing it one-handed.

Stroked Up alone contains over 200 posts, and with a (low) estimated average of 500 words per post, that means I’ve written 10,000 words in front of you all with my right hand, alone. (We haven’t even touched any of the other blogs I’ve written for, or my memoir.)

And even though I know I’ve never outright claimed to do all my writing nowadays with both hands, it still feels a little misleading to me. As the face of the Stroked Up movement, I’m here to empower you. In order to do so, I need to reach out to you when I personally also feel empowered.

The truth is, the doctors were right about something: After my hemiparalysis, function would be the slowest to return to my affected hand.

Now, it has been 12 years since the stroke. I definitely haven’t heeded therapists’ orders and sat down to flip cards and coins or stick my hand in rice to pick out buttons every day in those 12 years. Actually, it hasn’t even been anything like once a week. I’ve been fortunate in that my hand does get daily stimulation just by virtue of being part of my body, so it hasn’t curled up and wasted away by any means.

Are you ready for this truth bomb to drop? I don’t actively exercise my left hand on a regular basis at all.

Before you throw down your computers and storm away, let me just soothe your conscience a little bit. Here’s the deal: Rehabilitating an affected hand and rebuilding dexterity is fucking hard.

My fellow survivors who were once paralyzed all know the truth of this statement: Don’t be fooled by the ease with which we all move our healthy, unaffected limbs. Dexterity is one helluva bitch to get back.

I’ve had close friends in the past make insensitive statements like, “If I were you I’d be exercising my hand 24/7 until I got 110% back.” (I’ll post next week on how to cope with these kinds of things.) I remember how irritated I would feel when I’d hear that. They had no right to tell me what they would do if they were in my shoes.

Not only is rehab difficult physically, but it is actually MOSTLY mentally tedious. It demands so much attention, so much consciousness, so much will for an extended period of time. I may not actively exercise my fingers daily anymore, but once upon a time, I did.

The pain of working that hard with barely visible payoff was discouraging. Even to this day, there are moments where I battle against the very thoughts I seek to dismantle in you, my fellow Stroked Up lifers. I have the voice of doubt whisper to me regularly, “You’re going to be like this forever. Don’t be seduced by visions of getting your old body back. There’s no way that’s going to happen.”

I don’t usually pretend that these thoughts — which have by now turned into beliefs, after 12 long years — don’t exist, or that they have no power over me. I actually strongly disagree with people who, in an effort to set a good example to others, claim they don’t spend any time wallowing in discouragement or self-doubt. I disagree with them because I see it as a lie.

No one, I promise you, NO ONE feels empowered 100% of the time. (Wouldn’t it be nice?)

I have always aimed to be transparent with you because I am one of you. To pretend like negativity or self-doubt doesn’t exist is pointless and actually gives it more power. I experience it, but I don’t stay in it.

Instead, I do my best to be empowered 80% of the time. :-)

So to help myself heal these limiting beliefs — because your thoughts become your beliefs, which then become your actions and eventually your results — the plan is to gain momentum in the right direction.

The more you are able to have (and celebrate) little wins, the more you rewrite your own programming. We all know the brain is plastic throughout our lives — use it to your own benefit.

Those of you who’ve followed Rehab Revolution* from the beginning have watched me post-post-post in a frenzy, only to disappear for months at a time. This constant starting and stopping wreaked havoc on my self-confidence, and because of that, the blog didn’t grow as I intended it to. (With that in mind, I’ve completely reinvigorated my blogging goals and had some major wins lately! WOOHOO!)

Rehab is exactly the same. I’ve been consistently inconsistent in the past, but in order to get some real results with my left hand, I’m setting a goal to do at least 15 minutes a day of left handed rehab for four weeks.

I have been blazing through consistency challenges lately, so if you also have fallen off the wagon, really consider whether a daily challenge is realistic for you. (Let’s not have you beat yourself up if you’re not yet set up for rocking it daily. Self-compassion is JUST AS important as self-drive.)

I’m really excited to share with you a tool I’ve begun using to help me track my own progress with this — it’s beyond just writing about it. I’m revealing this mystery method in my next post, so check back tomorrow.

As always, if anything I said today rings true for you, I’m delighted to continue the conversation with you in the comments section. Be brave and bold — give yourself a voice! Stroked Up is a safe space for us to chat about what’s really going on.

To our healing,

* Rehab Revolution is Stroked Up’s original name; I rebranded the blog upon migrating it to this domain.

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