Over time, the issues got worse, and I went physically downhill to the point where I could barely walk.
So, where am I at these days?
Well, I can read a lot better for a start. Still struggling a chunk of the time, but I've found a way to help me along. If I find myself gradually having more and more issues reading, I read a couple of Doctor Who novelisations, preferably Terrance Dicks ones. It seems to help get me back to a point where I can stick at reading again. I know the stories, Terrance has an easy to read style, and I have to say, I enjoy seeing what he's done with the story.
And good ol' Uncle Terrance manages to put in tiny little touches that I usually find myself loving. The man is a genuine story teller, and the fact that he helps me to read books by other authors is wonderful. Must track down some non-DW, non-novelisation works by him. If you're ever lucky enough to meet him, please buy him a drink of his choice from me. Doubt he and I are going to be anywhere together any time in the foreseeable future.
I continue to be able to watch films and TV shows with actual depth, which is lovely. Smallville was fine when I had no concentration, but it's nice to be able to watch things like The Wire. I do still get mentally tired and unable to deal with long films sometimes. It's amazing how many two-plus hours films don't actually do anything with the time. There's a lot of nice, tight, ninety minute films that tell their stories and get out without overstaying their welcomes.
The irony here is that I do actually like some longer versions of films, because they flesh out the world or characters, but most movies don't. They just give you more of the same. It says a lot when I can watch a four-hour silent movie by Fritz Lang but find a two hour Hollywood flick over long.
Anyway, I digress.
I do still have a lot of concentration issues. In fact, my brain is still going through a gradual rewiring process as it continues to bypass the damage that was done. So I'm noticing that I'm still very good with names, one of the positive post-stroke side effects, but have real trouble reading maps if I'm the slightest bit tired. Thank heavens for GPS!
Also find that I have a lot more trouble with spelling now. It's been getting worse this last year, words that I've spelt without trouble for most of my life I keep spelling wrong. Still, it's a big improvement on the random words and gobbledygook that kept appearing in things I was writing previously.
The kid's demands also adds to the mental tiredness which slows things to a crawl. I'm having more and more issues with reading emails, web pages and the like. For much of the time my concentration is just not up to it. That's become more of a problem over time, likely a mix of changes to my brain layout and the demands of small people who constantly require care and questions being answered.
Writing wise, it's happening in random bursts. I have a lot I want to write about, but need that rare mix of time, physical energy, and mental energy. That said, I'm particularly happy with some of my pre-2012-three-months-of-insane-crap pieces. I think I like my Dalek piece on the reasons for their popularity best. Did some good research, and had some fun.
Emotionally I'm in a pretty good place. After years battling depression on my own terms, I found the constant demands on my energy meant I wasn't dealing with the issues as effectively as I previously had been. So bit the bullet and went to my doctor. He was very pleased that I'd worked hard to find ways to work around it for so long, since there are a lot of people who go "oh I feel down" and ask to go on anti-depressants, and a lot of doctors just go along with that without trying to help people find other physical or mental coping mechanisms first. Looking at how I'd dealt with it, and the fact my main issue now was being too run down for my usual strategies to work, he put me on the lowest possible dose.
Been a huge improvement. I'm now actually getting a lot more done. Doesn't feel like it sometimes, but that's because there was always a massive, massive pile of stuff not getting done. Now it's merely very, very big.
Not having to deal with all the other stuff and use lots of energy heading off my depression has been great. I'm only on the tablets for another few months, then the plan is to take me off them and see how I do. Suspect I'll do okay. We shall see.
My balance is mostly back to normal. In fact the only time I use a walking stick these days is at conventions. That's mostly because that's a place where I'm more likely to run myself down physically and mentally and suddenly have need of it. The rest of the time it sits unloved and unused at home. Though I do keep a folding stick in my car for unexpected emergencies. When I need the stick, I really need it.
Ironically, this year I'll be going to Swancon to rest, like I did last year. Well, I'm also going there for adult human contact, which I tend to lack in a lot of my everyday life. Of course human interaction also tires me out a fair bit sometimes. It's strange that I find performing in front of an audience less tiring that chatting to people at a party.
Physically I'm doing pretty well. I still have bouts of sudden unexpected tiredness, though as mentioned it's rare they get to the point when I need my walking stick. Generally sitting or lying down for a while deals with it, though that's a lot harder to manage at home with the kids. I couldn't go out and work a regular job just yet, but I am starting to explore options for work for once the kids are both at school. Have to see how I go.
It helps to have goals as well. I'm hoping to walk a chunk of the Nullarbor in 2016 with a dear friend. We both have awesome, loving partners, but where we go, "Walk the Nullarbor? Hell yeah!" our partners would be likely to be less enthusiastic with the prospect of a month or two of walking a chunk of the Australian outback.
What's nice is we both know that by 2016 our lives may have changed in all sorts of radical and unexpected ways, so the planned walk may not happen. But we figure if we aim for that, with the intention of doing it, and in the end we can only manage to go camping in the Eastern States for a couple of weeks, well either way we get to do something we'll love. Anything from the primary goal down that happens is a win.
Oh and I'm chopping a little wood, and doing other stuff as well. I still totally fail to be in any way, shape, or form buff. However I make up for it by being pretty, so things even out.
Over all, the physical improvement is still happening, but it has slowed down radically. I'd estimate I'm a solid 80% of where I was pre-stroke, peaking anywhere up to 95+ on a good day. Kids are great physiotherapy. There are days where I'm not up to much, but have to get moving anyway, and other days where I'm tired out, but go on to do stuff like chasing children or taking them to see things or play games because I want to.
In fact, I just went chasing and lifting and throwing children around between this paragraph and the last, and consequentially now feel totally rooted.
Having stuffed myself, this seems like an appropriate place to end.
Life is good, but then I'm fairly determined that it will be, and it's too scared to disagree.