I’ve considered doing these prompt things for WordPress for a while now. I’m not much of a writer but I write and have written a lot very poorly for a long time. I started blogging because I finally had something to blog about that is not commonly known or talked about. At first I was hesitant, then distracted and then I started to veer off in a different direction and started getting more personal. So I started a second blog to prove to everyone just how poorly formed my opinions are and how truly terrible I am at writing to keep both halves of my blogging needs separated. I thought these prompts would be a great way to help me catch some flow in my thoughts and hopefully improve my writing, and organizing, in the long run. My luck, the first prompt is:
In exactly 100 words creatively describe one moment when your mouth dropped open, chin hit the ground, and tears rolled down your face (figuratively or not). If you prefer to develop this into a longer post, that’s fine too!
First of all: I can’t write only 100 words… I’m too detailed and too long-winded for that.
Secondly: My jaw dropping moment can’t be explained so simply.
And lastly: It’s no surprise to me that the first prompt I can instantly relate to my stroke 4 years ago. That damn thing has its long talons reaching into every part of my life.
I was 27 when I had my stroke. I was 13 weeks pregnant and alone with my 3 year-old son when I woke up fighting for life on my bedroom floor. This isn’t the jaw dropping moment and neither is the fact that I would later find out my strive to keep focused on my son and keep him thinking everything was okay is pretty much the only reason I’m not either dead or still wheelchair bound. What was the big jaw-dropping-to-my-knees moment was months later. That’s how long it would take me to line up what little of the event I could remember clearly with the seemingly insurmountable mound of information that comes along with not only having a stroke but having one caused by a cerebral AVM. I am still swimming in this information. I understand most of it but understand so little. It’s not an easy spot to be in.
My moment of complete shock, a shock so wild I was torn between laughing, crying and screaming out in pain and disbelief all at once, was when I would learn that I am not crazy. Sure, I’m probably still crazy for a number of other reasons but the ones I thought could justify a clinically insane sticker on my medical records now had a name of its own.
For a very long time I thought I was really crazy. I could hear my heartbeat in my ears. I heard voices in the quiet and sometimes people would become visually distorted for no reason. I had dreams of fire, blood and uncontrollable weather. I dreamt often of an apocalyptic era. It scared me when I was a kid. I’d wake up with stomach cramps, screaming and sweating. Eventually I started to want to see how the dreams ended. The more I wanted to see, the more detailed the dreams became. Sometimes, rarely, but sometimes I would dream of love. It was always intense; and it would feel so real I’d wake up sad because I knew I’d never experience anything like that. The best ones were the love stories during zombie outbreaks or alien invasions. If you have dreams like that all your life, you stop being afraid of them and you start to think of them as short films. I loved them so much.
I hated hallucinations as much as I hated the voices. The voices were like static in the background, always muffled. People say they hear their names being called just before they go to sleep. I know this is common. I wonder how many heard their name whispered over and over until finally it shouted their name just once, very distinctly and matter-of-factly. Ha! I never told anyone about the voices. Sometimes it sounded like a radio or T.V was left on in another room. But those hallucinations were something different because I really thought they were real. One time I thought there was a huge black snake in my room. No one ever found it. Once I followed a trail of beetles out of my bedroom closet to underneath an entertainment center where they disappeared. I had to learn to ignore shadows because I always saw them in shades and shapes that weren’t real.
After my stroke and learning about AVM’s and symptoms of both, I was reluctant to think the AVM was to blame for all of this. And then I had the AVM removed and I could no longer hear my heartbeat or the TV in the next room and the bugs and dreams disappeared. Six months after my stroke and my baby was born, I had learned that all the things that made me think and feel crazy were likely caused by a teeny, tiny, little knot in my brain. It’s likely I had survived multiple “mini” strokes throughout my life, explaining sightings of pests and insects that were never found or seen by anyone else. I never thought my dreams meant I was crazy but I thought it was a sign of something “off” about me. I found out AVM’s can cause seizures. There are too many types of seizures out there for me to begin pretending I know what I’m talking about and it’s been too long to say I may have had seizures before my rupture though I do have them now. But some seizures can cause violent or extreme dreams.
My mouth drop moment was while I sat in my bed feeling pity for myself and my useless left body. I had spent months crying and grieving over the many sides of myself that I lost and the many I would not gain due to surviving stroke still early in my life. But of the many positive take-aways I would discover and receive, learning that I was not and had not been crazy was the most earth-shaking and jaw dropping gift of the entire experience.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Mouth Drop.”