Every recovery is different. 

I’m now 9 months out from my stroke. 9 months is usually associated with birth in humans. This “me after stroke” is kind of like a birth. Each month my brain relearns new ways of doing “old” things. Each month reveals things I couldn’t do nine months ago and then could do two, three, or four months later. 

I’ve learned a lot about what I really know. My eyesight has shifted. My driving sight is better. “Cheaters” are back for reading small print. I realized I could skip at the 3rd month. Around the 7th month I discovered I could run-not fast, not far, but the actual pick up those feet and legs and move! I need naps or rest time every day.

In other posts I’ve talked about new brain cells, blood vessels, and nerve endings that were growing. Each month builds confidence in what I know that I previously didn’t know about me. It’s become like a treasure hunt-albeit with a map that keeps changing. 


This month my sister and I went to Fort Lowell Park in Tucson in search of a labyrinth. Although the park’s museum is sadly closed, we discovered treasures we never knew about. 

We knew about the tennis courts, the pool, lake, the ducks, benches for picnics. And there was an area behind the ball fields where, maybe, there was a labyrinth. This led us to the Hardy Site, marking the houses and roasting pits of ancestral Native Americans known as Hohokam, an archaeological culture that was in the Sonoran Desert from about AD 500 to 1450. The Hohokam are known for their beautiful painted pottery, carved stone and shell items, ball courts, and platform mounds. The Hardy Site is one of the major Hohokam sites, located at Fort Lowell, a military fortress from the late 1800s. In the 1970s and then in 2012 evacuations and excavations cleared out what are now 10 pits.

We walk around the village markers at the Hardy Site. I’m getting a physical surge like energy waves-my emotional sensitivity is pretty acute these days. I label this wave as a feeling of awe. We’re walking on top of history-layers of ground underneath. A Hohokam mother, a father, a teenager, a young child walked here. And now I am walking on this ancestral ground.


I’m brought back so sharply at this reminder that I am walking that I have to stop walking. The effects of my stroke are with me 24/7. Sometimes vividly, like this huge sweep of gratitude that I can walk. Sometimes also vividly, in the shocking shaky reminder when the “wobblies” take over. 

When my brain cells are told to send messages to “stand up and walk, Ethel” after sitting for an hour, they might yawn and reply, “Yeah, yeah, we’re going.” And they are, bless their little cell hearts. But in a meandering way. If I try to move too quickly the wobblies have me stuck and trying to move at the same time. This has the appearance of an unusual dance. If I stand and wait about 15 seconds, the messengers move down along my legs to knees, ankles, and feet. “Alrighty, we’re ready.” And then I can move smoothly. Patience. EZ does it.

I file this special Hardy Site treasure in the current memory bank of May 2022 Historical Information Dept. And send loving directions to the brain cell workers in HID to preserve this memory as a factual and an emotional milestone. Writing about and researching it add to my experience. This will move the Hardy Site from short term memory to recalled memory. 


The cross-reference to any daily experience is under Stroke:

  • What I think I know about stroke, and about my stroke
  • What I really know that I (now) know
  • What I don’t know that I don’t know. To be discovered. 
  • Final reference: This could be tiring. Perhaps a nap or 20-minute rest?

Did we find a labyrinth? Nope, but there was another treasure that we discovered that we didn’t know that we didn’t know.

Life is Good.  

Thank you to everyone who responds to my updates with such understanding, compassion, kindness, and love. If I don’t reply to your email, please know yes, I did get it. Yes, I loved reading your words. Yes, those words can be like a super delicious energy drink, polishing up my personal perspective about my recovery (I’m not alone) and my world view (there are so many good and caring people in my world). 

Next up: The Secret Lagoon

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 or a Zoom room.