KaDarra Lowe - What You Don’t Know About Growing Up After Stroke
KaDarra Lowe had a stroke as a child, but has since had an “almost total” recovery. She is a volunteer with her local American Heart Association’s CycleNation events and she writes in honor of World Stroke Day on October 29.
At 8 years old I suffered a stroke. After twenty years, I still live with the effects of the paralysis to the left side of my body. After a long day, one might notice that I drag my left leg or walk with a limp—and my left leg is visibly smaller than my right. Since my stroke, I use my right hand to do many things my left hand primarily once did (because I’m left-handed). Typically, I will not pitch or catch anything with my left hand. Neither will I use my left hand to snap my fingers, twirl a bar of soap, eat spaghetti, or do countless other things most people likely do not pay much attention. So yes, I still live with the effects of my stroke opposed to struggle with the effects of my stroke. It’s an important difference. What you do not know about growing up after stroke is that it will probably not be the worst thing that ever happens to you. Recovery from anything is unlikely to be easy and adapting to what you now see as limitations might be quite a challenge. But the body is amazing and naturally, it will innovate ways to achieve what you set your mind to do.
About a year ago, I decided to participate in a firefighter training. I figured I work out, I’m strong, I can do this. And I did-- I managed to complete all of the training obstacles in the course. However, the experience remains profound because it was the first time I realized my body has limitations that could have prevented me from making a professional decision like becoming a firefighter. My best guess is that I would have managed to pass all the physical tests (hey, I like to put on a good show and I like to believe I can do most things), but I also would be completely aware of my left-side weakness that may (or may not) prevent me from succeeding in an emergency matter. After the course, I immediately thought “No way I can do this job!” To me, there was a very apparent struggle in simultaneously handling the heavy tools (particularly with my left hand) and completing the obstacles. For me, that is quite scary when people’s lives are at stake. But only in this instance, a whole twenty years later, did I feel like my left-side weakness could have drastically impacted a life decision-- like becoming a firefighter. But I have never seriously considered becoming a firefighter. It was only a thought that crossed my mind after I volunteered to take the firefighter training course for fun. My point here is, there will be many more things that you can do than you cannot do. And the greatest challenge, in many cases, will not lie in physical rehabilitation, but in your own mind.
Want to help spread the word about resources available for life after stroke? Be sure to check out everything on offer for World Stroke Day.
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