24 Sep

Most of the time I don’t consciously focus on the fact that I have had a stroke. I just go about my day, but the fact that I have had a stroke hits me at different times, and in different ways. This morning as I reached my arms up to wash my hair I felt a wave of numbness/tingling that flashed over my right hand and arm and then reverted back to its normal level of numbness. 

Some stroke patients experience pain, numbness or odd sensations of tingling or prickling in paralyzed or weakened limbs, a symptom known as paresthesias.

But that flash made me consciously think about my stroke, and the part of my stroke that impacts me the least.  I started thinking about whether or not the numbness is different now, than it was when it happened, physically I believe it is less.  How I react to the numbness is far different from when I first woke up during my stroke, or even days and months later when I would unconsciously lace my fingers together and immediately pull my hands apart because the right hand, wasn’t my hand. 

Now I pay more attention working around the stove because I can burn myself very easy, I write less because my handwriting is worse and disintegrates quickly, I seldom lace my fingers together but can tolerate it when I do.  I know my arm and leg fall asleep quicker and deeper, so I watch how I sit or lay.  Sometimes when I casually touch my husband, his reflexes kick in and he will flinch and automatically know it is my right hand touching him because it is like ice.  I don’t feel the cold in my right side, so I forget it is different.  If I want to feel textures I use my left hand as the sensitivity is much better. 

I have adapted and adjusted to my new normal, I still miss my old normal and wish my stroke had never happened to begin with, and that the numbness is the least of the issues from the stroke.  I also know that I am very lucky compared to other stroke survivors, but wouldn’t I have been luckier not to have the stroke at all

So while others may tell me I am lucky they also comparing me to other stroke survivors.  They would never tell me I am lucky to have had a stroke, while comparing me to people who have not had a stroke.  Would you?

And if I have a day when I am angry that my stroke had to happen, my friends let me be angry, because it should not have happened.  If I am angry that I can’t work anymore, they don’t tell me how good I have it being retired.  They listen because they know that is what I need from them, and that I hear it from them, when they need to vent or talk about things that impact them.

I see a lot of similarities between my stroke and my adoption.  The stroke really doesn’t have an upside while adoption also has positives in it, but nor do I believe anyone else would want either to happen to them, but both did to me, and I have made the best of both.  Yet different things trigger thoughts of each and invariably I am reminded of both by normal everyday occurrences.  I also see a complete disconnect in how people in life see and react to me, they understand about my feelings about my stroke but talking about being adopted is different.  And the difference is that they only want to see the positives that come from adoption, and only want to talk about the positives, because it makes them uncomfortable to think of the negatives, and to me that is the biggest disservice of all. 

Just like what triggered thoughts of my stroke today, my adoption impacts me and I am reminded of the fact that I am adopted in many different ways on a daily basis, and I can’t see it ever being different.  It does not mean I am always angry or upset when I think about either, they are both just a part of who I am, and who I always will be. 

But if my talking here, as well as by other adult adoptee bloggers and allies, about the issues surrounding adoption and actions by those who lack ethics can make adoption more ethical, and only done when there is no other good option, then that’s a really good thing, and I am happy to be a part of that.


Posted by on September 24, 2011 in Adoption, Ethics


Tags: , , , , ,

9 responses to “Numbness…

  1. cb

    September 25, 2011 at 12:00 am

    First of all, (((AO))).

    I think the problem is that when people think of adoption, they only think of the 2nd act of a two part process, i.e. relinquishment/adoption. If everyone had to replace the word adoption with relinquishment/adoption, it doesn’t sound so good does it. For example “relinquishment/adoption is a wonderful thing” doesn’t sound as good as “adoption is a wonderful thing”. Adoption itself has positive aspects (of course, I would prefer it over an institution/group home etc) but it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I think that is the major problem on many combined forums, blogs etc – the adoptees and first mothers are talking about relinquishment/adoption and the APs are often talking about the second half only i.e. adoption so we end up talking at cross-purposes. Also, when talking about adoption, many people are often talking about adoption as practised today in the US and all the factors involved with it (eg sealing of records, obliteration of heritage etc) and others are merely thinking of adoption as non-related people caring for a child and not realising that that isn’t really what we have a problem with per se, so again we can be talking at cross purposes.


    • The adopted ones

      September 25, 2011 at 9:19 pm

      You are right – people only see their aspect of adoption. I think it is too scary to step out of their comfort zone.

      This was a strange post but I just saw the similarities and the disconnect and wanted to comment on the differences of being a stroke survivor and an adoptee…it fits I think.


  2. shadowtheadoptee

    September 26, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Good point CB.

    AO, it was the similarities between being a person with a disability and being adopted that helped me understand, really, both situations. The thing is, people think it is “amazing” when a person with a disability doesn’t give up, keeps going on, etc. If a person with a disability is down, it is perfectly understood. They can understand that you have a right to feel down. They feel sorry for you: can empathize to an extent. People don’t expect me to “forget” I can’t see. They don’t expect me to “pretend” I’m not different. They certainly don’t “expect” me to be “happy” about it, though they would prefer I were. They expect all those things in regard to my adoptee status.

    I’m just restating what you said in your post, but it boggles my mind sometimes why people can’t/don’t/won’t get it. It really is not that hard to see, hmmm, no pun intended, if you, uhm, just look?

    I get that it makes people uncomfortable, but, if they aren’t as insecure as they want to believe they aren’t, would it bother them so much? Just thinking out loud, but: so who is it, really, with the issues in adoption?

    Excellent post. I hate the triggers. I wish I could “forget”, “and “pretend”, things were different. I do sometimes and always end up with a bit of pain, a huge bruise, and a good smack in the face by reality.

    Rainbows, roses, and sunshine all the time would be nice, but life won’t let it be, at least not for me…damn walls, furniture, counter corners, low hanging tree limbs, and people, who don’t seem to know what the white cane with the bright orange tip, I’m swinging back and forth, signals? Maybe they just can’t/don’t/won’t, uhm, “see” it. In that case, guess a good smack on the shin is something they deserve? Need? Time to, uhm, wake up? If what we do here helps just oone person “get it”, maybe it’s worth it, and another adoptee will not have to go through what hwe have


    • The adopted ones

      September 26, 2011 at 3:54 pm

      This that you said:

      “I get that it makes people uncomfortable, but, if they aren’t as insecure as they want to believe they aren’t, would it bother them so much? Just thinking out loud, but: so who is it, really, with the issues in adoption?”

      Really says it all…and if that is the reality then what is the solution?


  3. shadowtheadoptee

    September 26, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Hmmm, don’t know…maybe a mandentory year of counceling for PAPs, focusing on their deep desire, and need, to be a parent? A stretch? Wouldn’t it be interesting though?


  4. momsomniac

    September 26, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    “So while others may tell me I am lucky they also comparing me to other stroke survivors. They would never tell me I am lucky to have had a stroke, while comparing me to people who have not had a stroke. Would you?”

    That about sums it up, doesn’t it?

    It was only after adopting C (son 2 of 3 sons) that my husband was able to come to terms with his own feelings about his adoptive parents. He knew what he wanted C to feel – the freedom he wanted him to have to challenge and criticize us, to be as “ungrateful” as any other child might be – and he finally realized he had a right to feel that too.

    It is tragic that so many think an adopted child should feel “lucky”. He should feel what he feels. And it is tragic that our social worker was *surprised* that I started crying when we talked about C’s birth mother. Shouldn’t every AP grieve the birth parents loss?

    I do not and cannot fully understand how being adopted feels. I cannot fully understand what having a stroke feels like. But I can fully understand that I am not you ~ and that it is ridicously rude and invasive to tell you what you should feel. I am sorry that the whole world does not give you this.


    • The adopted ones

      September 26, 2011 at 9:33 pm

      To this day 50+ years later mom’s face instrantly crumbles and tears roll down her face when she thinks about what our mothers went through. I am not surprised that you feel that way either. I am just surprised when others don’t feel that way. To me that means a whole lot missed out on learning empathy.

      Have missed you commenting…


  5. Raven

    September 27, 2011 at 4:54 am

    Big Boss, your mom sounds so much like my friends Julie’s and Terri’s mom. I’ve probably bored you silly over the years with all my stories about Mr. and Mrs. Mac…but they were so darn instrumental in my life. Mrs. Mac was there for me when I made the decision to relinquish my baby. She defended me that Christmas when her elderly aunt blew a gasket at the thought of a young mother surrendering her baby to adoption. But Mrs. Mac always defended me, for whatever reason at whatever time. I’ve always considered her to be my spiritual mother in a sense. I think she cried the hardest the day I signed the surrender documents. She held me for what seemed to be hours…she just sat and rocked me back and forth like I was an infant myself. She grieved with me, she cried with me, and she wiped my tears.

    Eighteen years later when I reunited with my son, I flew back to San Diego and stayed at Terri’s house. And Mrs. Mac insisted that I bring my son for one of her famous family dinners. When she saw my son walk in her front door, Mrs. Mac sobbed like a baby. They were tears of joy, though…and her reaction was wonderful to see. To her, 18 years had gone by in the blink of an eye…and she’d always encouraged me to find my son and bring him back into our lives.

    She was a truly amazing woman, a kind and compassionate woman who gave me the gift of unconditional love. There were several times when I was a young teenager that I caught her crying over the pain and loss felt by Terri’s and Julie’s natural mothers. She was wise enough to know that they weren’t a threat…and she was adamant that I help both of her daughters locate their first moms. God, I miss that incredible woman…but we lost her in the 1990’s to old age.


    • The adopted ones

      September 27, 2011 at 12:45 pm

      Raven – I love stories and ones showing how someone else can focus solely on someone else and just be there are the best. Empathy is something all people should strive for but it seems like the me, me, me mentality crowds it out.



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