April 30,2022

Over the past two weeks I had several medical check-ups and I was the recipient of some really nice compliments. I’ve always loved compliments. Am I needy? Vain? Quite possibly, but these days I don’t try to  figure out the root of this love. I accept all positive observations with a huge smile. 

The positive feedback I got was not about my glowing skin, or sparkling eyes, or shiny glossy hair. That seems superficial stuff. What I got was “you have the blood pressure of a young person” “weight of a healthy woman—for your age,” “EKG heart rate is normal” (I love being normal). “Oxygen 95%, that’s very OK.”

Eight months out from my stroke in August 2021 and I’m getting stronger. My stamina is much better. I can now filter out extraneous noises and enjoy eating out at restaurants without a cacophony of dishes clattering or conversations echoing loudly in my head. Music playing at a party moved me to dance instead of covering my  ears and feeling really shaky. 

My brain cells are busy, busy, busy — “busy exploring, learning, moving around and engaged in more sophisticated interactions and play.” Lifted that from a child development link describing an eight-month old baby. Makes sense. I’m dealing with some eight-month old cells and brain pathways. My brain cells have ceased being on strike or whining “I don’t wanna” as they did during some physical or language therapy sessions. Some days they are in the zone and make that coffee without hesitation as to what happens first. They send signals to my arms, legs, and torso to move in coordination and “swiftly” when Hank and I walk in the park. 

This was confirmed by those doctors’ comments. I felt a sense of well-being . The newer brain cells from my new Neuroplasticity Family were up there in the left frontal lobe preening, high fiving each other with their little brain hands, and nodding knowingly to each other. “Oh yeah, we got this.”

Hank and I are playing tennis on weekends. My serves have improved- they are actually
very good; backhand returns—great. 

But because they are my brain cells they sometimes test the waters and resist transferring some commands into actions. 

Ex.: Hank’s return is a short lob just over the net. I see it. My brain gets the message. Send energy to the quadriceps to move fast; get her up there to the net. The brain Team Supervisor is on it: “Quads, go go go!” The nerve Messenger Associate that is supposed to shoot down to the quads has only just completed Basic Transfer Training 1.0 and has not been to Rapid Transfer 2.1, so as I’m moving up to the net, the ball has mockingly bounced—twice. 

Flipside of this—there’s much more coordination with messages getting through from the area that controls emotions. Soon, about a minute after the missed lob, I receive the message: Use the Triple S technique — stop, shrug, smile. 

laptop with writing and coffee mugHow fortunate and grateful I am to be able to share my journey by writing about it.

Life is Good.


Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and her writing life. She’s retired from professional writing gigs after 30 years of teaching, coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. In retirement she writes to inspire, to connect with folks, and for the pure enjoyment of it. Ethel enjoys sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling, Zoom gatherings, and anywhere there’s a mic.