Stroke Essay


On December 31, 2006 I had a stroke. I’ve written about it in passing on Nova Ren Suma’s blog as a Turning Point, on my old blog about yoga as it pertained to my recovery, and on my (formerly) anonymous blog in real time as it happened, and as I healed.

But I found it very difficult to write about the stroke as the focal point in essay format. Sometimes, it takes time for me to understand a life happening before I can retell it to others.

Today, my essay is out on BuzzFeed Longform. I’m proud of the thing. I’m grateful to my editor at BuzzFeed for guiding me towards the razor’s edge in my narrative. And I’m in LOVE with Lisa Perrin’s artwork. I’ve always admired her work, but I’m thrilled with how much she nailed my story in pictures. The above image is one of several she created for my stroke essay.

Also, I’m grateful to all my friends who held my hand in recovery. I don’t recall every moment–friends have told me they visited me, and it’s in the black hole of memory. But I felt my friends’ presence and caring. Who held my hand last year, which was honestly one of the hardest years of my life. Who still hold my hands. And in particular, to the friends and my sweetheart who read early drafts of the essay.

We writers don’t receive kudos very often. So when the love does come around, it matters very much. It holds me through the darkness. And it keeps me going. So–thank you.

Note: I did chronicle my stroke over at Jade Park. And I blogged in real time as the stroke hit me, and as I realized something was terribly wrong. Whoever says blogging is a waste of time can see how that blog saved my life and writing.

Thank you.


  1. I read this essay on Monday afternoon at work. I was tired and irritable. To much busy, busy lately. What else is new. The essay scared me and the essay moved me . It talks of life and how difficult that can be, to keep our heads screwed on tight. It shows that there is so much outside of our control. Overall it is a tale of winning through continuing to live, of trying hard, of receiving kindness and help from others living their lives and of seeing the better, through the bad. You are an optimist after all! Thanks for reaching my emotion with the words of your story.

  2. I also had a stroke at 33, but mine was a hemorrhage. Classic stroke symptoms: dizzy, headache, weakness on the left side. Almost four years later I am completely recovered but I have “scars” on my brain too. The anxiety after has been worse than the physical recovery. Thanks for sharing this story: its a good reminder that all experiences teach us something. Even if its a lesson we didn’t want to learn.

  3. Christine, thank you for your essay. I have not had a stroke, but in February 2013 I hit my head and had a concussion – and this was not my first TBI. Many years ago I had an auto accident in which my head hit and cracked the windshield. I know it seems silly, but this time I hit my head, hard, on a kitchen cabinet. I felt weird immediately and my symptoms got worse over the course of that evening and the next morning. A friend took me to the ER the next day. They found no bleeding in my brain, but I could not remember what I had just done, forgetting it the moment I stopped doing it. I also can relate to what you said about not worrying about the past or the future. I might have a moment of concern or worry, but very quickly I would forget that concern and I would be happy again.

    I was off work for two weeks because I couldn’t concentrate on anything, and couldn’t drive because I wouldn’t pay attention to the other cars. I would get distracted and forget that I was driving. When I went back to work, it was really difficult handling all the details of my office job again. No one seemed to believe me that I had a mild TBI that was actually causing me problems. However, I know now that whenever I get stressed, some of those symptoms start coming back. Your essay was validation for my symptoms and experiences now, and the idea of structure is something that will help me. I have always tended to be more spontaneous and not very structured, but in order to deal with this, I have to work differently.

    Thanks again for telling your story. Those of us with brain issues need this topic to be shared with others, so the awareness of the “invisible injury” can help us be understood.

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