My friend Michele wrote a post this morning, which she rounded off with a question:
What does imagination mean to you?
It made me think, plus it is a long time since I posted about my stroke.
When I first came out of hospital, I was in a chair. That’s no small thing, returning to the house you lived in for many years, only to find that you can’t even get up the step to get into it!
I could take a few steps, but because my balance was screwed, I needed something to hold on to all the time. That’s why, if you visit a hospital, you’ll often see handrails on the walls.
My first task, after I got home, was to put my clothes in the washing machine. Because after a stay in hospital, you have dirty clothes, right? I lost my balance while bending down, fell flat on my face, and had to be helped up by somebody who arrived a while later, ironically a health worker who had been sent to assess the house to see what mods I needed. It waas just as well I’d left the front door open!
Fortunately I’ve fallen less with time, but it can still happen now. I think August was the last occasion. Uneven ground will get me.
In those first months at home, we even piled the cushions onto the sofa, just to raise me. Because my legs did not have the strength to lift me up. I sit normally now because I learned to use my arm to lever myself up, but it’s still the case that I’m not strong enough to get up just using my legs. In the same vein, I don’t sit on the ground, because if I did, I’d never get up.
When I went to the toilet, I even needed a handrail installed there because, once I was sitting on the toilet, same thing. My legs did not have the strength to get me up. That one is still touch and go.
Same with the bath. I need a handrail over the bath, so I can haul myself upright, even now. It’s quite funny looking back, but… The one thing you want to do when you get out of hospital is take a bath! That, and get a proper night’s sleep. So a day after I get home, I’m lounging in the bath, the water’s going cold, and… how the fuck do I get out of here???
That’s when I knew I needed a hand-grip installed, and fortunately it was so close to discharge that the health service agreed to fund it.
My point here is basically that when I first got out of hospital, even moving about was a hazard, and I tended to sit in the same seat all day. Even today, I’m still very sedentary. If I get to 5,000 steps in a day, I’ve exerted myself. But back then, forget it.
Before the stroke, I was a computer whizz, but afterwards I had lost interest. Took probably six months before I was using it regularly, and about a year before I thought I might share my experiences in a blog.
And bearing in mind how sedentary I am, the blog became the main outlet.
And you should see some of the things I wrote about. Sure, in the very early days it waas dominated by my health, but for example, I was always interested in current affairs, and I think the UK has its fair share of problems. You know, big problems. Constitutional problems.
Just from the point of view that a head of state should be selected on the grounds of being the best person for the job, rather than being somebody’s offspring, that got me writing about our monarchy.
Or the UK’s electoral system, which tends to take what are usually quite small differences in the overall number of votes cast, and magnify them into large differences in the way our parliament is composed. That seems wrong to me.
Those posts are still available. You might read them and think my approach is rubbish. Fair enough. Heck, I might read them, all this time later, and think it is rubbish! But the thing is, I’ve thought about them. I’m not only in a position to say such-and-such is wrong, but I’m adding and here’s how we improve it.
Incidentally, gun control was another one I thought about, by the way. My sad conclusion is that America is fucked. It’s really one of those issues where you just end up thinking thank god I don’t live there, because there is no realistic alternative to what they have now. Which in turn means that you have to accept that some guy erases twenty, thirty, forty lives, because they’re having a bad day, and just shrug your shoulders. It’s truly heartbreaking. It’s Neanderthal. In this day and age, we should be better than that. It’s desperately sad that people choose to behave as Neanderthals.
Okay, enough anecdotes. My point is, I did all of this thinking while seated in my chair. All in my head. To come back to Michele’s post, there are times when all we have is our imagination.