(Editor’s note: Writer, BEST blog contributor and stroke survivor, Isaac Peterson, ponders the movie of his life, post-stroke. Read on; you’ll be glad you did. KT).
I was just cruising the information superhighway and caught sight of an old meme, the one about how everybody is fighting a secret battle that no one knows about.
I thought, ain’t it the truth?
I thought of the things that I do to get through the days, since the stroke that I survived.
I’ve had lots of challenges and struggles with the traumatic brain injury the stroke left behind. Living with that is a daily battle, but I must be putting up a good fight, going by all the people who tell me they can’t even tell I’m recovering from a major stroke.
If only they knew.
But I was in one major battle and I don’t even remember it.
It happened while I was actually going through the stroke itself. It must have been one heck of a struggle, the fight of my life—the fight for my life, and I don’t remember a thing about it.
My doctor says he thinks I have a very powerful will and that’s one of the things he thinks helped me come out on top. I always just think about it as me being really stubborn—as always. It must have been one heckuva battle but I’m wondering now what that battle—my willpower against a stroke—must have been like.
If only I knew. If only I could remember. It’s said that sometimes our minds will protect us after a trauma by blocking out the memory of it. That must have been one heckuva fight, if my brain doesn’t want me to remember it.
All I can do is try to imagine what it must have been like and what that must have looked like. I have a general idea, since I kind of know what the inside of a brain looks like. I’m not talking about the physical part of it, though, although that was the largest part of it.
I think there was another part of it that played out on another plane: spiritual, mental, psychological, or something else.
The best I can do though is to try to imagine it, like a movie in my head.
But what kind of movie?
Well, it was definitely not a comedy. It couldn’t have been like a Harlequin-type romance; I’m absolutely positive I didn’t love what was happening. I know it wasn’t a romantic comedy.
So what kind of movie would it have been like? It could have been almost anything. After all, we have a whole universe in our minds.
So maybe the movie played out in outer space in my head like Star Wars, with the stroke being the gigantic Death Star, and my will the little space ships that finally blew it up at the end.
Maybe it was like a shootout in a western movie, with the stroke as the bad guy and me the sheriff.
It might have been like a Rocky movie with that stroke as Apollo Creed and me as a beefed-up Sylvester Stallone.
How about a James Bond movie, with me as James Bond? You know how, after a struggle, the bad guy manages to overpower Bond and strap him down with a laser pointed at his chest—or something like that? And then while the bad guy is gloating, Bond escapes, and in the final struggle he wins, once and for all? Was the movie anything like that?
How about a WWII movie, with lots of explosions and aerial dogfights?
The best bet is probably a science fiction movie, one of the ones with alien invaders from outer space. Except this invader was inside my head.
I wonder if I’ll ever know.
People who came to visit me in the hospital tell me I was coherent and could hold conversations, but I don’t remember any of it. Some tell me I even displayed my usual sense of humor. But I know they were concerned about me and encouraging. I know some sat with me and held my hand while we talked, and sometimes while I was sleeping or otherwise out to lunch. I don’t remember, but I’m absolutely positive their caring concern and words of encouragement and hope reached me while I was in that shadowy universe between being awake and sleeping, and reinforced my inner strength and my will to win the battle I was fighting in my head.
I just know it must have really been some battle and although I don’t remember any of it, I know it happened; I’ve got the TBI that battle left behind on the battlefield in my brain to prove it.
I won that battle, but I still have daily skirmishes with what that stroke left me with. I still am forced to combat the dizziness, the weakness, the forgetfulness, fatigue, and all the other secondary after effects from it, and the traumatic brain injury every minute of every day.
I’m winning so far, but the fight is far from over.
This fight isn’t over until I win it for good.
I don’t know what that movie in my head looks like, but most movies have an ending.
I sure hope that’s true of this movie because I’m definitely not looking forward to a sequel.
Isaac Peterson grew up on an Air Force base near Cheyenne, Wyoming. After graduating from the University of Wyoming, he embarked on a career as an award-winning investigative journalist and as a semi-professional musician in the Twin Cities, the place he called home on and off for 35 years. He also doesn’t mind it at all if someone offers to pick up his restaurant tab. Peterson also welcomes reader comments. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.