My Best Therapy

I walked along the beach from my daughters place to the enramada.


After five months of needing care, I wanted to take my annual sojourn to Mexico and regain some independence. After a stroke it is easy to feel as if you will be dependent forever. And it’s easy to be lazy. When everyone wants to be helpful, it’s sometimes feels ungrateful to refuse.

So off we went. My daughter was there as a safety net (and she was invaluable).  She made sure that my needs were provided and helped me make a life plan. What sort of team would I need? Who would I need to hire? What could I do alone? What would I do alone?

And things were different there. There was no automatic pilot light on the gas stove and striking a match was beyond my capabilities. The drinking water came in 5 gallon jugs, not from from the tap. Tap water in the kitchen was warm enough to do the dishes by adding some purifier, but the rinse water still needed to be heated. Transferring it to the sink from the stove top was impossible for me.

Was I okay to spend nights by myself? Could I fill my water bottle, fix a snack if I needed one, navigate trips to the bathroom?

I needed to be able to walk the streets, which in Mexico could be tricky.* (My goal for home was to make it to the post office and back.) Walking included the cognition to watch for cars, catch myself if I tripped, etc.

I didn’t expect miracles, but I expected performance And I’m thrilled.

I can make my way pretty darn well. I can cover rocky ground. I can inch down crazy steep curb cuts that would never make code in the U.S. and clamber up again. I have faced the obstacles of speeding cars, huge buses, dump trucks, boys on bikes, deep sand, rough cement and home-designed topes made of rope or split tree trunks. I have skirted or inadvertently stepped in potholes six inches deep. I have tipped, trembled but never toppled.

I visited my friend and former landlady at the laguna. I walked to the beach – stopping to rest in friends’ chairs twice each way when we first arrived. I walked there and back easily by the end of the month.

Still wanting to go all the way I worked my way down the bank of soft sand from the enramada to el mar. Exhausted and overwhelmed I felt the waves lapping over my feet.  I stalled out on the way back up the bank and depended on the kindness friends and strangers to hold me while I tried to remember how to walk. Then my daughter got my brace and I managed on my own two feet. I navigated my way into a boat (with help) and went Whale watching. The warm breeze on my face was another reminder that I could live #poststroke in the fullness of life with joy and satisfaction.

I still needed someone to light the stove but I could ask the to have my food cut up before it was served.  I could make it in and out of a hammock alone. I took a shower without a chair. (My bathroom was accessible by default – The shower was part of the room.)

My month in Mexico prepared me for what my daughters call #oil – Operation Independent Living.

That’s my new life!


*my physical therapist had prepared me for uneven ground by putting me on a rocker board and intermittently giving me a push from the back until I learn to balance using my core muscles not just my cane.


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