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Something Is Wrong With My Brain

Things that most of us think of as ordinary can sometimes take their toll on Andee Zomerman. Read more from Andee on her blog, Nature of a Servant.
Something Is Wrong With My Brain: temporary paralysis
20 years ago, I suffered a stroke which caused temporary paralysis in my right hemisphere A.
Short recap:
    • At age 24, I had a stroke
    • A blood clot on the left side of brain caused right side paralysis.
    • No drugs were given.
    • After a period of time, my brain “re-wired” itself over the dead spot so I could function again.
    • Looking at me, you can’t tell anything is wrong. (Talking with me is a different story – but I digress.)

Here’s what most people don’t know about my brain:

  • When I’m tired, my right side, speech, and function slow down considerably.
  • When I’m stressed, the same happens.
  • When my brain has to concentrate on ANYTHING else, i.e., staying awake, calming nerves, etc…, it becomes “un-wired” and I experience stroke-like symptoms again.

Sometimes months go by and I forget I have issues that continually stem from the temporary paralysis.

Then there are times like the past week.
Recently my family shared 2 weeks of complete relaxation. I probably should have prepared my body a bit before jumping back into real life.

***Strike 1

My beloved boot-camp – the exercise program I love to hate – needed to re-vamp their schedule. The only time I’m able to now attend is at 5:15 am. I thought I could be one of those groovy women who did more before my kids woke up than most people do in a day. Alas, by noon, I was out of commission. At least, my brain was. I tried it for 2 days and pushed my body through when I shouldn’t have.

***Strike 2

All family activities geared up again this week: school, dance, theater classes, auditions, callbacks and cast-lists, homework, DECA projects, volunteering – I felt pulled in every direction. Again, not a big deal normally, but after 2 weeks of rest and then waking at 4:45 am to get the days started, my brain began to unravel.
***Strike 3
Relationships, exciting new possibilities on the horizon, and catching up with all things ignored since Thanksgiving are GOOD, but take a toll. My routine was off and my brain responded.
***And she’s OUT!

On the night of theater auditions for my daughters, I assumed my mom volunteer responsibilities recording casting notes. Only the information wouldn’t translate from my brain to my pen. Try as I might, I couldn’t move the 10 pound writing instrument through molasses; the very same symptom which alerted me something was very wrong 20 years ago.

I handed over my volunteer responsibilities to a friend. I escaped for a mini-pity party of one.
Why can’t I handle normal tasks?
Everyone else does way more than I do – where is my strength?
What the hell is wrong with me?
know the answer to these questions. I just don’t want the answer to be true.
It is 11:00 am, as I type this post in bed. Typing is way easier than manual writing for some reason. The right side of my face is numb and on the keyboard, my hand shakes. Transferring my thoughts to the computer screen provides a simpler way to communicate than developing speech this morning.
I’ve done too much, though you may believe I’ve not done much at all. And because I ignored my brain when it said, “ENOUGH!”, now I’m not getting anything done.
Oh, the irony.
When does your body tell you, enough is enough? Do you listen? It’s a lesson for me, to be honest. Not just to watch for signs in myself, but to give others grace when perhaps they are not listening to their bodies either.
Stressed out folks make for a snippy, judgmental, entitled society.
I promise to do better this week. If I’m moving a little slower, you’ll know why. And if I get a little snippy – please tell me to chill out. You’ll be doing me a favor.

Andee Zomerman

Andee is a blogger at, mom, wife, teacher by trade, former youth minister, Disney passionate, librarian-wanabee, guest talk-host living in the Pacific Northwest. She strives to live with compassion and fight for justice, but still has a long way to go. Instagram: andeezomerman

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Dr. Margaret Rutherford

Saturday 21st of March 2015

Andee I had a neurological condition when I was younger that made it dangerous for me to do certain things. So my mom was always telling me "no'. The condition righted itself after years of meds and waiting. But now I have trouble not pushing through whatever message my body and mind are telling me - or shouting at me - usually to slow down. That I am running out of steam. Your story is so touching to me because, of course, your condition did not go away as mine did. I am lucky. I admire you for writing about it and being genuine about the struggle. It must be hard to manage and accept. Thank you so much.

Anne Parris

Friday 20th of March 2015

I'd heard about this kind of burn-out happening from chronically ill people who call themselves spoonies. They have a little story about only having so many spoons at the start of the day. Each thing they do costs a spoon or two. When they're out of spoons they have to accept that they are done for the day.

I think this must be especially difficult when you don't "look sick." Gentle hugs to you, Andee!

Andee Zomerman

Friday 20th of March 2015

Thanks, Anne. I love the spoon analogy. I shall steal it. :)

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