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  • To many people strokes are a sort of physiological inevitability that you bump into when you reach a certain age. Normally that age is somewhere in the far off, never-to-be-thought-of distance; something associated with the final chapters of existence.

    If you haven't passed through life into old age prior to a stroke, the invisible scars of the unique timing of this brain injury become etched on your entire being and in ways you couldn't possibly predict. For me, just after my stroke, it was a race to see again, to do completely benign tasks again, and so to would I be thrust into an absolute desperation to keep a grip on my age.

    Just 35, only 35. Repeat.

    This mantra, this small but critical phrase, was stored on the tip of my tongue, gripped tightly with white-knuckles.

    Lost are the exact numbers of times people would stop and apologize for this unfortunate “thing” happening and then inevitably share tales of the stroke their grandmother suffered and her victorious survival and recovery. Through a strange, unsettling smile their tale would always end with a chipper: "She only had a few permanent losses!"

    Dripping with the saccharin lodged awkwardly in their prose, I'd stare in silence blankly. That is, of course, I'd stare at what I hoped was their actual face in my split-in-two world, feeling nothing short of horrid.

    Just 35, only 35. Repeat.

    I felt like I needed an anchor to grip on to, keeping me here in my supposed youth. The youth that would be rapidly slipping away from me, the youth that had been yanked out from underneath me. Suddenly I was made equivalent to a senior citizen time and time again and I wasn’t quite ready for that life stage just yet. Wondering where I had lost all those years along with my vision, my ability to link coherent, cognizant ideas together, I would sit in silence.

    Often.

    Alone with my racing, random thoughts, eyes fixated on the ceiling, trying to get it to become one and making peace with the fact that not only had my vision doubled, but so had my age literally overnight.

    Years of life. Blink. Just like that.

    Gone.

    Stolen under the cover of darkness. Never returned.
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