20 years since my …

June 6, 2000 – Hey, it’s my anniversary!

… It’s my 20 year anniversary since I had my stroke (d’oh!)

Some of you know that I finally wrote a book about my time before the stroke and after the stroke. Here is the jest of what it’s about:

 

Before, Afdre, and After (My stroke . . . oh what fun)

“When Maureen Twomey was only thirty-three years old, she experienced a massive stroke-one that took away her ability to read, write, walk, and even speak (AAAAAAAHHH!!). Well, she wasn’t about to go down without a fight. In Before, Afdre and After, Twomey offers a sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes comical, and ultimately inspiring glimpse at what it is to lose everything when you’re supposed to be in the prime of your life-and what it takes to get it back, piece by tiny piece.”

2018 cover front

 

Here’s a snip-it of my book, the introduction, and Chapter Two (not Chapter 1):

 

 

Introduction

Hi, I’m Maureen Twomey. When I was only 33, June 6, 2000, I had astroke. It was HUGE. (??!!)

I didn’t expect it. (Well . . . no one does.) I was healthy, fit, had lowblood sugar, etc. So what happened?

It turns out that I had a rare type of stroke: a “stroke secondary to fibromuscular dysplasia,” which usually occurs in young females.

Some people who have fibromuscular dysplasia do NOT GET A STROKE. But I did . . . lucky me (rrrrrrrr).

The stroke caused a tear in my internal carotid artery.

It was June 6, 2000, and I was at work on my computer. And all of a sudden, I was on the floor. “What’s happening to me!?” I asked. “Am I having a stroke?” My coworkers didn’t know.

Soon the emergency team came and took me to the hospital, where they did a CAT Scan of my brain.

But fibromuscular dysplasia is lower (arterial), and they didn’t check that low at first. So they told me they were going to do some more tests . . .

They didn’t find the stroke until the next day: June 7, 2000.

It’s not the hospital’s fault whatsoever. It’s my ARTERY and my BRAIN’S fault. I would sue, but I can’t.

Damn it!

Anyway, I’m doing much better now, but I still have a ways to go . . .

 

June 22, 2000, I finally understood that I’d had a stroke. My first thought was

“AAAAAAAAAH!”

 

The second thing I thought was, “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!”

Then—not immediately, but after a while—the third thing I thought was: “Hey, I have a GREAT story to tell!”

The problem was, I couldn’t tell it. The stroke had taken everything away. I couldn’t read or write or even speak. I couldn’t tell my story at all . . .

 

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

 

“Well hey,” I thought, “I’m not a genius, but I am gifted . . .

. . . So two weeks from now— three weeks tops—I’ll be 100 percent better,” I decided. “And soon I will be done with my book. A story about how I did it.

“After all, many people have a stroke or experience a brain injury and lose the ability to read or write . . . but in time, a lot of them recover those abilities,” I thought.

Well, I not only had a stroke caused by fibromuscular dysplasia, I also developed dysgraphia AND aphasia AND apraxia AND brain injury AND cognitive deficits.

Hmmmmm . . . Well, maybe it would take longer to write my story than I first thought.

Now, more than a decade later, I am able to read and write and speak much better than I could at first, but I am still not as accomplished at these things as I was before my stroke (not yet, anyway!).

So some people helped me along the way, of course. Ellen Gilbert,

MS, my reading, writing, speech, and language teacher, helped me tremendously at first as I worked to re-learn these skills.

When I first got started, I mostly dictated and Ellen typed what I said. Then I got better at writing, so started typing myself. (Franklin and Talk are key . . . More on this later.)

Of course, I’m typing with only ONE hand on the computer now, because my right arm doesn’t work anymore. If you wrote a book with only one hand, YOU would be slow too! (Duh.)

Chuck and MaryAnn LaMere, my uncle and aunt, also helped me when I was getting started. (“Chuck, how do you spell . . .” “MaryAnn,how do you

spell . . .” “MaryAnn or Chuck, how do you spell . . .” blab, blab, blab . . . )

When you see Jack Twomey’s (my dad’s) letters to everyone in the following pages, it is truly Jack/Dad who wrote them. And many more

people wrote stuff for this memoir, too. Mostly, though, I wrote this book.

Maybe someone else could tell the story of what happened much better than I can. Maybe my writing isn’t as good as it was before. But I’ve accomplished so much that I want to write it—not have someone else do it for me.

 

So if this book doesn’t come CLOSE to that of a great writer like

J.D. Salinger or Harper Lee or Anne Lamott, it is ONLY because—well, YOU know.

Anyway, hopefully you’ll enjoy this book. I would say, “If not,maybe you can contact the publisher and say you want your money back,” but I’m self-publishing . . . so if you don’t like my book, maybe just sell it on Amazon or eBay?

😉

 

P.S.: By the way: As you can see, I’m writing only on one half of the page. It’s not because I want to use some fancy style, but because I can’t see on the right. (I lost vision on the right side in both eyes after my stroke.)

When I was fine I could see all the way a cross the page . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Now, as I write this, I am not able to see the right side of this page. Some people who have had a stroke have this difficulty too. So, I have purposely chosen to use this formatting . . .

Well, I CAN physically turn my head to the right and see there is still print so I can read some more. But in order to do that, I have to turn my head

 

back                                                          and forth

and back                                                  and forth

and back                                                   and forth . . .

It’s like a                                                    tennis match.

Back                                                           and forth . . .

Back                                                           and forth . . .

AAAAAAAH!                                            I can’t take it!

I’ll make you a deal:

 

  • When I am writing about the time before the stroke, I will make the words go entirely across the page.

 

  • When I include writing from my dad, the hospital, friends, etc., you’ll know that it’s not me writing, because it will also go across the page.

 

  • But when I’m writing about everything that happened after the stroke, I’ll stick to this half-page formatting. It reinforces the idea that now I can’t see the right side.

 

So that means that while this book at first seems really long, it’sactually only 40 pages total.

(Well, maybe a bit more.)

 

 

Chapter 1

(Next Chapter) –>

😉

 

 

Chapter 2

Tuesday, June 6, 2000:

Hey! It’s been six months at my job . . . Where’s my cake? 😉

It was busy at work, but I left midday for a dermatology appointment. I arrived fifteen minutes early for a 1:30 p.m. appointment.

It was the first time I’d been there, so they’d asked me to come early to fill out some forms.  Thankfully, I was going to be the first person of the afternoon to see the dermatologist, which, I thought, meant it wouldbe quick. I waited . . . . 1:30 p.m

. . . . 1:45 p.m. . . . 1:55 p.m. . . . 2:00 p.m. . . . “AAAAAAAH!” I

thought. “Where’s the doctor!? Is she still at lunch? Is she napping?”

FINALLY the doctor showed up. “I have to go back to work!” I said.

She said calmly that she could look me over in five minutes. “Fine!!!” I said.

Suddenly I felt funny, lightheaded, and I wondered what was wrong with me. My right eye was flashing, kind of like a camera: on and off; on and off; on and off. But fifteen seconds later, I felt fine.

Afterward, when I was walking back to work, I was almost crying. “Okay,” I told myself, “think aboutsomething funny!” (I can’t remember what I thought of, but it worked.)

When I got back to work, however, I started to cry.

Later, three women from work—Amy C., Noreen D., and Heather Buhler Jennings—typed a letter saying what they felt had happened to me. They gave it to my dad in the hopes that it could help.

 

3:00 p.m.

Amy sees Maureen Twomey crying in the hallway in front of Maureen’s office. Maureen tells her she has just returned from the dermatologist’s office and that her doctor mentioned to her that one side of her is flushed. Maureen is anxious because she is also experiencing flashes of light in one eye and a tingling sensation on one side of her body. She has a slight headache.Amy recommends she call her doc- tor. Maureen calls and he asks if she’s experiencing anypain, to which she replies no. He told her to call back if the headache or other symptoms worsen. Maureen calms herself and continues to work.

 

4:20 p.m.

Maureen comes into Heather Buhler’s office to get cab vouchers from her to go home. One side of her face is droopy, her eyes are crossing, and she is very pale. She says that she has beenexperiencing flashes of bright light and feels very dizzy and is worried that she might faint. Heather tells her to take a seat and offers her some water. Maureen sits down and begins tearing up; she looks as if she’s beginning to panic. Heather asks Maureen to call her doctor and make an appointment and describe her symptoms. Heather goes downstairs to get Maureen cab slips, one to get her to the doctor’s office, one to get her home.

 

I called the doctor again. I had a serious headache. “Maybe it’s a migraine?” I thought.

I was thinking, “Tonight was supposed to be my last class of intermediate improv, but I’m so . . .  so . . .  I don’t know what . . .  and I have to go home and rest. I have to miss improv even though I don’t want to.”

 

4:30 p.m.

Heather returns to Maureen’s desk with some cab slips and asks her what her doctor had to say. Maureen says that she is probably suffering from a migraine headache, dehydration, or exhaustion. Maureen wants to go home, so Heather gives Maureen cab slips and asks her topage her if she begins to feel worse. Maureen calls for a cab and begins typing an e-mail to her theatre class notifying them that she will not be in class that evening.

 

I had to e-mail my improv group to tell them that I would not be there that night. I was on the computer, and then, all of a sudden, I was looking at the words but they didn’t make sense to meanymore. It was like they were in a foreign language . . .

(I realized that I could NOT read them now that they looked like, “Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee wsoy adwjdke rtyh!?” But I want to tell you more about my story, so i’ll still make everything in english . . . okay? Okay.)

. . . and the next second I fell on the floor. “Oh God . . . What’s happening to me?”

 

4:40 p.m.

Amy, in the next office, hears Maureen fall out of her chair and begin crying. Amy runs intoher office and finds her on her back with her head propped up against a filing cabinet. Maureen is holding her head and crying. She is quite frightened and is experiencing a severeheadache, the flashes in one eye, and numbness in one arm. Amy asks Noreen to get a cab slipfor Maureen to go to the hospital and then calls Maureen’s doctor, who tells her to call 911 immediately. They tell her to give the paramedics Maureen’s insurance card so the hospital will contact the doctor once she is admitted. One of Maureen’s eyes looks droopy. Maureen, still crying, asks Amy if she thinks she’s having a stroke.

Amy sits with her, holds her hand, and tries to keep her comfortable and calm until the paramedics arrive just a few minutes later. Several coworkers come to see if they can help in any way. Maureen says she’s thirsty. Gloria T. gets Maureen some water, but Maureen says she can’t/doesn’t want to drink, despite her thirst.

 

Physically I was wondering, “What does that mean? Maybe if I explain myself they could do something about it more quickly.” Again, I thought I was having a stroke . . . But a split second later, I completely forgot about not being able to read the words. I had other things to worry about.

 

4:45 p.m.

Maureen tells Amy of the e-mail she was typing and asks her to delete it because she was unable to finish it. Amy notices that Maureen had been typing just one letter for a couple of lines towards the end of the note. Noreen and Amy and Gloria sit with Maureen and wait for the paramedics. Amy asks if there’s a friend or relative she can call and Maureen dictates her father’s phone number to Noreen (Jack Twomey) from memory …

————-

 

(What happens next? Buy my book to see …)

 

🙂

😢 Back to school essentials …

Survive the school year with these must-have back to school essentials at www.sandyhookpromise.org/campaign

😢

**Please note that this PSA contains graphic content related to school shootings that may be upsetting to some viewers. If you feel that this subject matter may be too difficult for you, you may choose not to watch this video.**

 

PLEASE DO SOMETHING NOW …

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“If You Voted For Him, Has He Gone Too Far Yet?”

“If You Vote For Him, Has He Gone Too Far Yet?”

— by @nonniejules

https://askthegoodmommy.wordpress.com/2019/08/02/now-he-has-gone-too-far/

 

“I know that I should be standing on the premise of “When they go low, we go high” (Thank you, PRESIDENT BARACK & MRS. OBAMA for always exuding the highest level of dignity and decency), but what I am hearing today, has me outraged…on another level.  And, for the record, I don’t have to have brown skin to feel this way, and the same applies to you.

Logged into my Twitter just now and this is what I find…

How sad was that?  So, I ask – if you voted for him, has he gone too far yet?  Has he gone far enough for YOU to vote for something different in the coming election?  If you don’t think that this person is inciting hate and spewing the worst kind of venom ever, you are either wearing blinders that are too tight OR you’re just like him, and he’s doing exactly what you want him to do.  Yes, I said that and I didn’t stutter when I did.

When was there another time in our history that we had such a person running our country?  When?

When was there ever a time that our country was the laughing stock of third-world countries?  When?

When was there a time in our lives that we had to hang our heads in shame because we belong to the America that is now?

When was it ever this bad?  I mean, those babies at the border are still babies…no matter the shade of their skin…right?

MAGA?  Make America great again?  My America was great long before this person took office.  Now, my America looks more and more like a cartoon with every tweet that he sends from the Oval Office.

MAGA?  What does that mean to me coming from him?  Let me turn it around the way that I like to do when I’m putting a different spin on negativity.  Let’s get rid of MAGA and turn it around to AGAM.  You know what that means?  AGAINST GOD AND MAN, because everything that he does and every word from his mouth goes against God and Man.

You’re welcome, person.

If you voted for him hoping that he would make some real positive change, I sincerely hope that you can now see that he is what is wrong with our country.

If you’re not happy with any of the candidates lining up to run against him (and there are many), meet “Bart” and his wife “Sally”…

All Lives Dogs

They’d be happy to step in and MAKE OUR COUNTRY GREAT AGAIN, and I love their campaign slogan more than anything!  They’ve got my vote!

“Hey, person, all the hate you give won’t stop us…WE WON’T MOVE.”

Oh, and if you’re wondering why I have crossed out the word person as it applies here, well, here is the definition of a person: human being as distinguished from an animal or a thing.  Understand now why I can’t even refer to him as such?

How do you feel about his latest incite of hate?  Voting for him again?”

— by @nonniejules

 

Thank you Nonnie Jules! ❤️ ❤️ ❤️

Everyone go to @nonniejules at:

https://askthegoodmommy.wordpress.com/2019/08/02/now-he-has-gone-too-far/

I got accepted to Harvard!

Actually, I already went to college. But Harvard Library has my book: Before, Afdre, and After (My stroke … oh what fun)

😉

2018 Before, Afdre, and After

“When Maureen Twomey was only thirty-three years old, she experienced a massive stroke-one that took away her ability to read, write, walk, and even speak (AAAAAAAHHH!!). Well, she wasn’t about to go down without a fight. In Before, Afdre and After, Twomey offers a sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes comical, and ultimately inspiring glimpse at what it is to lose everything when you’re supposed to be in the prime of your life-and what it takes to get it back, piece by tiny piece.”

 

 

Harvard Library:

http://lms01.harvard.edu/F/Q2D7HRPEVUCN4AVKGP6952TF5YRS9VT6JLXNKMAAM93C3B5SQ3-00001?func=find-b&find_code=kon&request=ocn910258391

 

… You can also get my book at:

 

Before, Afdre, and After

https://maureentwomey.wordpress.com/befor-afdre-and-after/

 

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25480204-before-afdre-and-after?from_search=true

 

Amazon:

 

etc.  🙂

 

“Thank you for sharing, Maureen!”

“Thank you for sharing, Maureen!”

By Stephanie

Before, Afdre, and After (My stroke … oh what fun)

“Interestingly, this book kept reminding me of the “look for the helpers” quote by Mr. Rogers. Maureen’s experience was incredible, her treatments fascinating, her perseverance commendable, and her much-better-than-expected recovery worthy of much celebration. I was most affected, however, by the amazing level of support she received from friends and family.

Maureen’s strong work ethic and determination were obvious, but I often found myself thinking, “What do stroke victims (and other folks with TBI’s) do when they don’t have someone to _________ (fill in the blank with everything from helping her get to the hospital to moving her out of her apartment, to caring for her cat, to taking her in and caring for her after rehab, etc.).

When I began reading this book, I was excited to get some insight on the perspective of someone completely aware, but “locked” in his or her mind by such an injury. I definitely got that, but a bonus was developing a better understanding for the incredible need of a supportive network for these individuals…oh, and really good health insurance coverage – that’s another thing that’s REALLY helpful to have when an unexpected tragedy strikes!

Aside from all of that, I thoroughly enjoyed Maureen’s sense of humor (that I’m sure also played a huge role in her recovery) and the pictures and various other “snapshots” of her recovery. All together, it was an attention-grabbing, comprehensive, touching recounting of an incredible journey. Thank you for sharing, Maureen! 🙂 ”

2016-sue-and-her-book

Thanks YOU! 🙂

“A humorous, enlightening and delightfully honest journey!”

cropped-dsc02018.jpg“A humorous, enlightening and delightfully honest journey! Do read Before, Afdre and After (my stroke…)

By Elaine C Pereira

“What a Wild Ride! What a Journey and what a Book! It’s honest, funny, hard, and so very real! I’m an Occupational Therapist and understand how terrifying it must feel to watch yourself unravel in real time from the inside out, powerless to stop your own derailing neurological train! I appreciate the details and examples of Maureen’s struggle.

She includes pictures, sketches, charts and exercises; these might not be of great interest to readers without a medical background, but they were to me. It’s such a harrowing struggle to regain what you shouldn’t have lost and a such a young age. Kudos to you Maureen!”

🙂

 

 

“An inspirational book”

Before, Afdre, and After (My stroke . . . oh what fun)

“An inspirational book”

By the Speech-Language Pathologist/Instructor,
City College of San Francisco

Davies 8

“Maureen is an amazing writer whose heartfelt and humorous book tells the story of her stroke and the long road of rehabilitation and recovery.

As a speech therapist, who teaches communication classes to stroke survivors, I found Maureen’s book captured the feelings and struggle that so many individuals experience in their recovery. In our stroke-communication class we read and discussed her book together, and Maureen’s voice and message resonated with everyone.

It is very fortunate for us that Maureen decided that this was the story she would write a book about! This book is a great tool for stroke survivors and is an inspiration to all who read it.”

🙂

 

Praise for Before, Afdre, and After

https://maureentwomey.wordpress.com/praise-for-before-afdre-and-after/