Jun 13, 2021

A Horrific, Honest Email From Sara Riggs: A Heartfelt Story I Had to Place on My Blog in Its Entirety

I usually get similar emails all the time, slightly different in location, length, and effects. But this one from Sara Riggs is different, so different that I felt I should share it with my readers. If it was on Facebook, I would feel strange giving it a "like." And trust me. You won't like it. 

But yes, Sara, in the blink of an eye, it's all gone: confidence, empowerment, self-love. And now you have another job. You, like me, will probably never accept it, the final stage of grieving, and no, it's no reason to celebrate with those inane stroke-versaries, but what's the alternative! You should make it the best life you possibly can and join support groups, as many as you can find.

Here are two of the best support groups out there on Zoom:

Daniel's group meets at 1pm PST every Tuesday: The Zoom link is 


The other one run by Keith at 3pm PST every 2nd and 4th Tuesday is

I, too, was opposed to joining a stroke support group for many years, but once I joined, I go every Tuesday and I never regret it. There is joy and laughter, not at first because you're new, but eventually.

Maybe write a book? As an editor, perhaps I can advise you.

So here it is, Sara Riggs' experience: 


May 24, 2021

This morning when I woke, my first thought was the same as every other day:  What day is it and what needs to be done: calls to make, appointments, is it trash day?  Today is Monday and I have two calls to make to doctors.  Then I realized the date and began to cry.  3 years ago on May 24, 2018, my world changed forever.  I wonder who besides me will remember.  I wonder if I want anyone to.  If no one does, will it hurt me?  If someone does, what is there for them to say anyway?  Last year, in the same internal conflict, I wrote 2 short sentences of what I wanted to say, if it was mentioned.  Nobody remembered, and the words were not needed.  I am most fearful of those who want to celebrate today.  They will say I should be happy; what I should think about today.  While I understand why others would think that, I also know it will not be understood why I do not feel that way.  Why I dread today.  For this reason, I will not, cannot, remind anyone.  This is not a happy day for me.  I do not celebrate.  It is not an anniversary.  Anniversaries are happy times to celebrate joyous events.  When the annual observance of the day a loved one died, it is a reminder of a loss. Sometimes a sad day, reflecting on the events or days prior to the passing. Perhaps reliving memories.  Today is the annual reminder of such an unimaginable and unexpected loss.  A reminder of the death of a loved one, the loss of a life loved – mine.

I am drawn into memories of May 24, 2018. I remember how the day was spent and with whom.  The activities of the day before.  My mind walks through the timeline.  I remember a life of meaning.  A happy, full life of excitement and joy for an anticipated future.  Following a nice dinner with a good friend, with wonderful conversation and good wine, I was glowing.  I remember a terrible pain in my head and an ambulance ride.  I remember every article of clothing and piece of jewelry I wore (none of which was returned to me).  The memories are painful, knowing that this life was erased only a few hours later.  I remember waking in a hospital bed, an empty, nonfunctioning shell.  The ability to move, gone.  Sensation on half of my body, gone.  My vision, gone.  Half of my skull, gone.  The joy of a life loved, gone.  From glowing to the anguish of profound permanent loss in the blink of an eye.

For me, this day is an annual painful remembrance of the loss of a loved one.  A day of mourning.  Not an anniversary.

Need I say more? I don't think so.

Jun 6, 2021

5 Fuckin' Phrases We Should NEVER Say As Stroke Survivors to Each Other, In My Opinion

This post, I predict, will anger some people, but I'm entitled to write what's on my mind. A handful of stroke survivors recovered completely. So disregard please. But it's my blog. And I've been writing this blog for close to 10 years, so I'm somewhat of an aficionado on stroke survivors. I wrote a post about a decade ago about the 10 things nobody should say or do to stroke survivors (https://stroketales.blogspot.com/2011/05/the-top-ten-things-you-should-never-say.html). 

But now,  I'm reaching the breaking point of pure frustration when I hear stroke survivors talk about themselves or other survivors with the following phrases. If you want to use these 5 phrases, please go right ahead. But for me, these phases are absolutely non-sensical and inane! And yes, I'm judging you. 

1.  "My stroke-versary [a play on anniversary] is coming up next month!" often said with a grinning emoji. Like this: 😀
Or worse, like this:

I get that anniversaries are once-a-year events, but there's a celebratory air, and really, what's there to celebrate, when your life has to be re-adjusted, re-evaluated, and basically re-done forever, and when you have other "things" wrong with you that you didn't have pre-stroke. Some people would say, "I'm lucky to be alive." But that's the nature of survivors. You lived. Everyone knows that by your presence. In my view, it isn't a reason to throw a party.

2.  I don't like words "handicapped" or "disabled" when stroke survivors talk about themselves. "Survivor" or even the newer "thriver," yes! C'mon, people, let's get positive. Handicapped or disabled seems to venture in the area of less cognizant, or competent, than the normal person. And speaking of normal, I don't like word either. Nobody is normal if they have eccentricities, or neuroses, or psychopathies, of just plain weird behavior. Everybody in the world has a funkiness about them. 

3. I get shivers when shouting between stroke survivors is not corrected on the spot. You might say, "Hey. I'm a stroke survivor. I am not deaf!" (By the way, deafness always ranks under blindness. When some can't see, it's a tragedy. When someone can't hear, it often brings out giggles even though one of the senses is lost. That, too, is a tragedy).

4.  My anger increases when a stroke survivor says, "If you put your mind to it, you can do anything." That statement is not true for the majority. For example, most stroke survivors can't drive anymore, especially if they had seizures. Any activity requiring two, stable  hands? Even holding a paperback book, or putting on a jacket, or clapping? Out of the question. 

5.  I believe in God, but some survivors bring religion into the mix heavily. I heard one survivor say, "If you pray every night, God will reward you and improve your condition." And if you don't pray every night? God will punish you? I don't think so. 

The above is just a rant, to get those points on the screen so maybe you will read them again and give me a pass, and know what it's like if a stroke survivor is having a really bad day.