Margie Castle – I’m Still Me
Today, Margie Castle is an inspiring international artist in Las Vegas after a successful 35-year career in television, newspaper and magazine publishing. Margie is also a stroke survivor of more than three decades. To learn more about her art and how she helps fellow stroke survivors on their recovery journey, visit margiecastlegallery.com.
On a beautiful fall morning in 1983, life drastically changed for me. Out of the blue, I crumbled onto my kitchen floor. Me speech started to slur and my right arm and leg were clearly not functioning as usual. Thankfully, my family quickly and calmly took me to the hospital.
As I was being moved onto the ER gurney, I noticed a young woman in the reflection of the sliding glass doors. She had a distorted look on her face and her body was slumped against the railings like a rag doll. Yikes! THAT YOUNG WOMAN WAS ME. I was only 33 years old. I was in perfect health. I had a wonderful family and a thriving career.
After many tests, the diagnosis was confirmed. I had suffered a stroke on the left side of my brain, which caused my speech and the right side of my body to be affected. After months in a wheelchair, managing crutches and walking with canes, my recovery came almost full circle.
The lingering effects of a stroke can be frustrating, humbling and sometimes comical. I hiccupped off and on for five years. My right thumb peeled every few months. While speaking, I often had long hesitations at the end of many sentences. My brain had finished the sentence, but my mouth had not. A droopy eyelid and a little drooling when I am tired are small inconveniences in an otherwise incredible life.
During my recovery, one of the most difficult conversations I had with a therapist was when she told me that I would likely NOT be able to paint like I used to. As an artist, this was completely unacceptable. Fortunately, a wonderful group of artists heard of my situation and volunteered to help retain me in completing simple hand tasks, like holding a paintbrush. What I learned from these challenges was that art, and life, are meant to be “perfectly imperfect”. I celebrate after completing every canvas, blobs and all. I, no longer, am obsessed with staying in the lines and my new, quirky arm twitch creates unexpected accents on my paintings.
I was so moved by the kindness of the arts community that I started conducting art workshops called “I’m Still Me”. These are fun, joyful and stress-free gatherings, using art and music to assist in stroke recovery. I will forever be grateful to the incredible doctors, nurses, therapists, volunteers and family members who cared for me. Loved me. I am a thankful, “perfectly imperfect” stroke survivor.