Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanks for the Reminderies

I know I don't say it or or show it or even feel it enough (in fact more often than not, I'm muttering under my breath about how I just want to left alone), but I am incredibly thankful for my family and my welcoming home.

Six years ago, getting a Thanksgiving day pass from the rehab was one of the first steps toward getting me home for good. I was reminded of my good fortune a couple of times this week. 

First, I was doing a "peer visit" at the rehab -- with a man who strikingly resembled me as a patient (helmet and all) -- and was thrilled to witness he and his wife receiving that good news of a Thanksgiving pass of their own.

Even more jarring perhaps, was a visit I and a couple other members of Brain Injury Voices took to a newly-formed brain injury support group at a nearby out-patient rehab. In the audience was my last roommate at the rehab. I think I had four in total; and he was the only one to outstay me, despite or possibly because of his insistence that he didn't need to be there. Unfortunately, we didn't get to talk, and I don't know if he remembered me; but it seems that he now lives in a group home for people with brain injuries and comes to this rehab during the day.

Jordan [not his real name] was in his late 30s when we met, was divorced, a former nurse, and would receive regular visits from his mother and sister, neither of which were in a position to take him home with them. 2010 was his second stay at the rehab, after having suffered two strokes in 2008. In 2010 he had a seizure that brought him back, because  it was unclear whether he was able to properly keep up with his anti-seizure medication.

So, IF...: if I had not chosen a sedentary career at a well-established corporation with excellent benefits and a vested dedication to its employees; if I had not been married and settled into a fairly reliable and navigable house; if my parents were not gainfully retired and healthy; basically, if I had not planned my life so perfectly around having a debilitating illness at 40; if I had not kept up with my meds when I had my seizure in 2012, I most certainly could have been Jordan, sitting patiently and listening to some bozo 's pseudo-inspiring drivel about how hard work, patience and creative strategizing pay off.

So I am very thankful for everything I have, including the stupid brain that got me here.
The boys dressed up for Thanksgiving 2016, Wyatt in his cousin's old suit and Gus in my old tuxedo jacket that never quite fit me and never will again anyway.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

A Measured Response

My first foray into politics did not quite yield the desired results (I obviously don't have a strong swing state readership), but it was unreasonable to think it would or could.

With my disappointment over the Presidential election results, I find myself challenged by uncertainty in a way which is not unfamiliar to me but which I must approach with the same conscious and conscientious attitude I have lived every day of my life for the past six years. I single out that timeframe for the simple reason that since my stroke I have to be very planful about how I expend my extremely-limited focus and energy.

Yes, I'm disappointed in the message our country has sent itself and the world in terms of angry, fear-mongering rhetoric. But I'm still willing to accept the election results and see which Donald Trump shows up for work. I will not protest his presidency unless he tries to follow through on the hateful promises he made to sell himself as a candidate of change.

I can't back the #NotMyPresident movement, because it is just as rigid as the fear Clinton supporters had that Trump and his supporters would not accept the results of the election had he lost.

Acceptance is by no means easy. It's taken me many years to recognize that acceptance of my particular situation isn't the same as surrendering to it. As a brain injury friend reminds me whenever I bring it up, "surrenders are negotiated". Surrender is not the same as acquiescence. So, no, I'm not happy about the state of the nation, but it does me and no one else any good to assume the worst and unnecessarily expend energy railing against hypotheticals. We'll need our strength to remain vigilant and confront the realities of the world. As I learned from a Walt Whitman quote on an ex-girlfriend's Body Shop t-shirt: all you have been told ..., dismiss whatever insults your own soul....

We will get through this as long as we choose to stand by our core values and stop suspiciously eyeing each other through pinhole camera lenses.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Hashtag: Blame Is Lame

Every non-political blog I know has one entry that starts, "I usually don't talk about politics, but..." This is my such entry, as much as I think this blog has grown from a personal diary of sorts into something wholly other and so much more. So if this space offers some kind of bully pulpit beyond Facebook's preaching to the choir, I feel obligated to explain why this year's Presidential election is more personal and infuriating than any in my lifetime.

One of our candidates believes in our democracy and the power of its principles to affect real and positive change in America and the world. She is by no means perfect but admits her foibles and flaws and at times, yes, her poor judgment. She is also willing to acknowledge the advantages of being white, wealthy, and a government insider -- despite the disadvantages, discrimination, and double standards at work against someone with the gall to run for high office sans penis.

The other major party candidate is a petulant, ego-maniacal bully who lives to project an air of infallibility and who emphatically equates vulnerability with weakness and weakness with failure. I'll admit that beyond that sense of him, he has failed to convey any belief system to me whatsoever. Beliefs require forethought and ongoing contemplation, and he seems unwilling to take the time for either: only what happens to come off the top of his head, the tip of his tongue, and the length of his groping reach.

But he, "Speaks his mind!," claim his supporters. No, like any snake oil salesman, he says what he thinks people want to hear, avoiding the "facts" in favor of the "feels". In some ways that's a good indicator of how little he thinks of the American people -- that he believes we want to and are only capable of comprehending a world predicated on instinct: fear, paranoia, and suspicion. And that we respect blame and entitlement over responsibility or self reliance. Personally, that's not the kind of country I can get behind.

While there are so many reasons to be viscerally offended by Donald Trump, what I find most disappointing and upsetting is that my first memory of him is exactly what he'd want it to be:

Growing up in northern New Jersey, I got my local news from New York City. So in 1986 -- when I saw Trump swoop in and renovate Wollman Rink in Central Park, under budget and in a fraction of the time it'd taken the City of New York to fumble that particular ball -- he convinced me he could effortlessly do anything he said he would do: yes, he made Central Park skate again. And now, of course, he's attached his name to the achievement so no one will forget.

So I'm a little disappointed at how easily my sixteen-year-old self drank his gold-plated Kool-Aid. Interesting that while I've grown up, he's still retained the same myopic, monochromatic world view of a pubescent boy.

Not that  I'm qualified to psychoanalyze "The Donald", but I will nonetheless proffer a diagnosis of  Munchhausen by Proxy. He seems to have victim envy. Frustrated that so many people who aren't him get sympathy for their woes (middle child much?), he's spent a lifetime victimizing people in exchange for the attention it gets him.

I'm not saying he's never overcome real adversity: you can't return from bankruptcy as many times as he has without a certain level of resiliency.

However -- given my life changes of the past six years -- what infuriates me most about the man is his inability to recognize the privilege fueling his so-called success and instead goes out of his way to make excuses for his own poor choices, blaming others or conjuring conspiracy theories. Thus my attempts to dog him on Twitter with #BlameisLame. Disappointingly, I've received no response. He's got bigger fish to fry.

I think he's far off the mark if he believes that everyday people empathize with his claimed Horacio Alger tale of bootstrap-pulling with a mere million-dollar loan and the ability to overcome a bias media that actually reports what he says and takes him at his word. Don't we all hate being dogged by the paparazzi and having to fight a corrupt system by exposing its flaws through the loopholes we exploit? He's just like people!

I've recently been pondering the real or fake Buddhist quote, "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional." Real or not, it's helped me appreciate the choices I've made over the past six years to not live as a victim of my circumstances but rather embrace them as a chance to grow beyond who I am or ever was.

If you are still on the fence about who to vote for Tuesday, I encourage you to give Mr. Trump and his most vehement followers the same opportunity to reflect on the pain of disappointment and choose to turn it into something positive and inclusive, not to embolden any sort of movement toward  insulation, isolation, and fear.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Let It Go

Yes, we watched Frozen last night.

Also, it's just passed my sixth aneurversary, which always makes me a little contemplative about my old life ending and my new beginning. Holding on to who I once was is counter productive to who I've become and the evolution I have the opportunity to continue.

It's also almost Bulky Item Pick-up week. In my twenties -- when I first moved to Maine -- the sidewalks of Portland were layered with a treasure trove of detritus. I pretty much furnished my apartment that week. The coffee table's still in the basement. The "blue cube" I grabbed as a TV stand is now one of Gus' toy bins.

Large Item Pick-up was giddy with, "What are we gonna find!?" If there's a better metaphor for the accumulation of physical and emotional baggage over the first half of your life, I don't know what it is.

Now -- post semicolon -- it's all about shedding the weight of those barnacles. The excitement has become, "What can we get rid of!?" It's liberating to see what we don't need anymore. 

And so much lighter.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Para More

With my annual Aneurysm Awareness Walk coming up on the 17th (this year, my goal is simply to go as far as I can in four hours [probably around 2.5 to three miles]), and the summer Paralympics now underway in Rio, I've been thinking a lot about disability in its various forms.

As an employee of a disability insurance company,  I'm reminded every day of the dichotomy between public, somewhat fuzzy legal definitions of disability and the more prescriptive definition used to qualify one to be "on disability" benefits from a private insurer or Social Security Disability Insurance. The ADA states that, "An individual with a disability is defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment." The Social Security Administration, on the other hand, says, "To receive SSDI benefits, you must:
  • Not be able to do the work that you did before;
  • Not be able to do other kinds of work because of your medical condition(s); and
  • Have a disability that has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death."

As a person Working While Disabled, I have to reconcile those two definitions and recognize that I am simultaneously defying the latter definition while being perceived as the former. All the while not allowing the label to limit my achievements.

I'm also in the process of forming a disabled employees network at my company, because I think there's a distinct synergy between a disability experience and the work we do, even without being defined by the term.

And then there's the Paralympics, which simultaneously reminds me that -- despite having little to no athletic ambitions beyond the aforementioned charity walk -- I'm probably both too old and possibly not disabled enough to enter the competition. Mind you, each event has its own, specific "Minimum disability criteria" (Goalball for the visually impaired, anyone?), and my disabilities probably do fall under some of the requirements: 

  • Hypertonia: Abnormal increase in muscle tension and a reduced ability of a muscle to stretch, due to a neurological condition, such as cerebral palsy, brain injury or multiple sclerosis.
  • Ataxia: Lack of co-ordination of muscle movements due to a neurological condition, such as cerebral palsy, brain injury or multiple sclerosis.
  • Athetosis Motor dysfunction characterized by unbalanced, involuntary muscle movements and difficulty maintaining a symmetrical posture.

Again, it's a matter of perception and probably a doctor's note. I have all my limbs, my muscles are uninjured; it's just the computer that controls them that's on the fritz.

Of course, after writing all this, I Googled, "Paralympics cycling stroke" and learned that a 27-year-old British cyclist who's suffered a stroke and brain hemorrhage  just won Gold in Rio. I could never have done that in my twenties on a bicycle, never mind in my forties on a recumbent tricycle. My little bit of research suggests that recumbent trikes are reserved for paraplegic or amputee hand cyclists and that brain injured cyclists either ride standard bicycles or standard bikes converted to trikes. Though I did find and sign a petition to create a separate recumbent tricycle event for athletes with Cerebral Palsy, because currently Recumbent pedal tricycles are not permitted in Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) para-cycling competitions.

Anything's para possible, but I don't think that's a direction I'm going to take. Maybe Boccia is more my speed, anyway.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Recovery Is More Than Just a Salvage Operation: Redefining Success After a Stroke -- The Movie

It took some finagling, but I've finally managed to assemble a watchable, 40-minute version of my speech at the stroke conference in May.  At least I hope it's watchable. I can't personally bear to sit through more that a few minutes of my muttering. I also recognize that there are some, "you had to be there," moments, specifically when I address members of the audience (usually Jamie and the kids). Since there is only one audio track -- including my microphone and sound from the videos in my presentation -- you may need to tune out one to hear the other. I tried to even out the sound generally, but you can personalize the volume to suit your needs. I'm afraid there's nothing that can be done about the actual sound of my voice, but feel free to imagine Anthony Hopkins if that helps (hey, I've been to Wales). If you have trouble seeing the presentation slides, they're still available here. Otherwise, sit back, relax, enjoy the show...

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Time Travel

I try not to dwell on the past. But I do find periodically scanning my past and refreshing my memory to be a useful taste of perspective. Creating my presentation for the stroke conference certainly offered that. This blog has become an essential piece of my collective memory. The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine is a fun way to revisit snapshots of websites I used to visit or helped create. I just found this article I wrote in 1997, just as the original Star Wars trilogy was being re-released in theaters. It's an interesting artifact of my personal history. It's not about reliving the past or thinking about what I'd change (I've never been a fan of killing baby Hitler) but rather recalling the path that led me here. In that archaeological spirit, I decided to download my Facebook Archive and troll for entries around the time of my diagnosis, surgery, stroke, and rehab (starting about six years ago today). I'd periodically considered "live Tweeting" a day at the rehab but never found the right time (I was a little busy), so these glimpses are about as close as I can get.

Unfortunately, Facebook didn't include who was doing the posting, so my posts are co-mingled with others posting to my wall. I've removed links to blog posts, since they're archived already, and added some explanatory context [in brackets]:

Sunday, July 4, 2010 at 4:46pm EDT

For no particular reason [though probably because we periodically have the nerve to lock it, and the savages we live with then attempt to break it down], our bedroom door frame completely separated from the wall. And, on this Independence Day, 2010, I did what any red-blooded American man would do -- I squirted some wood glue in there, hammered in a few more random nails, and called it "fixed".
Monday, July 5, 2010 at 9:28am EDT
One of our fish, Peter Pan, jumped out of the tank last night. Now that I think about, it's pretty ironic. Not enough Pixie Dust.[Too soon?]
Sunday, July 18, 2010 at 7:18am EDT
Aside from being a vague Hitchcockian homage, Foul Play does not hold up well.

Monday, July 19, 2010 at 10:57pm EDT
Just watched our first Blu-Ray: 9. Not the musical. Pretty amazing, and not just visually. We are all post-apocalyptic rag dolls.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010 at 7:38pm EDT
[During a tornado warning] We're all huddled in the basement. Just in case. Good thing I have a flashlight app. [sent from my first smart device, a 3rd Generation iPod Touch.]

Saturday, July 31, 2010 at 4:38pm EDT
Just had a very nice tea party with my boys. To think it's actually cool enough to enjoy tea.

Sunday, July 25, 2010 at 10:37am EDT
I'm happy to report that Fletch holds up much better than Foul Play. Still can never live up to what it represents, but it holds up. [I think Jamie and I were having a bit of a retro Chevy Chase film festival. Caddy Shack may have ultimately won.]
Sunday, August 1, 2010 at 7:04am EDT
I unapologetically love having instant coffee once in awhile.
Friday, August 6, 2010 at 7:10am EDT
Just saw a hummingbird right outside the window. Good way to start the day.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 11:17am EDT

Ken Shapiro added a new photo. [We'd gone to New Jersey to visit my family, and I was struck by this hot vending machine at the Bronx Zoo (especially that it kept Kosher hours).]

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 at 10:58pm EDT
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was awesome. [I think that was the first time I saw it.]
Saturday, September 4, 2010 at 7:45pm EDT
I'm sorry, but I really enjoyed The Love Guru. It's the exact same type of humor that made Austin Powers successful, so I don't know why people thought it was so awful.

Saturday, September 11, 2010 at 5:59am EDT
I was briefly caught in a "Funny or Die" loop but managed to break free.

Saturday, September 11, 2010 at 8:30pm EDT
Don't know how many of you will understand or care, but I just got multitasking and homescreen wallpaper working on my [jailbroken] 8Gb iTouch. In your face, Mr. Jobs!

Sunday, September 12, 2010 at 7:32am EDT
I wonder if the creators of The Brady Bunch Movie knew their film would, over time, come to satirize not only the '60s but the '90s as well. But it does. Which makes it that much more fun to watch. Especially on the TV Guide Channel.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 8:22am EDT
I'm particularly in love with my kids this week.
Friday, September 24, 2010 at 5:44pm EDT

Ken Shapiro was with Madeline Pardue Williams and 4 others at Sebago Brewing Company.[I think this was the last of my week of Happy Hours, before heading to Boston for surgery.]

Sunday, September 26, 2010 at 3:54am EDT
I am collecting the most amazing array of teenage dance movies for us to watch during recovery. How's that for something to look forward to?? Sending you guys the best of vibes! [I'm guessing this was from our friend Elizabeth, who shares my penchant for cheesy popumentaries and other cinematic confections.]

Sunday, September 26, 2010 at 3:34pm EDT
[On the way to Boston for surgery...] There truly is something about a train that's magic. Especially a WiFi-enabled train. And when the seat in front of you is occupied by a little girl reading a Smurfs comic book aloud, in French.

Sunday, September 26, 2010 at 6:13pm EDT

[Hotel check-in for what was expected to be the night before surgery, later rescheduled and to become a second home for Jamie and my parents.]
Ken Shapiro with Jamie Andrews at Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, Boston, Cambridge.

Do you think Holiday Inn would prefer I not call this variety of their fine hotel chain "HIX"?

[Then the very meaningful well wishes started pouring in, expecting my surgery was the following day.]

Sunday, September 26, 2010 at 11:36am EDT
Kick some ass tomorrow.

Sunday, September 26, 2010 at 1:19pm EDT
You are amazing!! I'll be thinking and praying for you tomorrow. Good Luck!

Sunday, September 26, 2010 at 2:54pm EDT
Just wanted you to know that you can add me to the thousands of well-wishes you're getting today. Don't have any clue how any work is gonna get done tomorrow! But...who TF cares! :):) God bless, Buddy.

Sunday, September 26, 2010 at 7:09pm EDT
hey ken, sorry that i missed you on of luck tomorrow. i'll be thinking of you.
Sunday, September 26, 2010 at 8:44pm EDT
So I'm looking forward to sharing a Brown at Sea Dog again soon... Good luck tomorrow!

Monday, September 27, 2010 at 10:58pm EDT
Hey! We are thinking about you!
Monday, September 27, 2010 at 9:37pm EDT
[Because I was not having my head cut open Monday, I happily posted this link, just as worth sharing now as then...]
Monday, September 27, 2010 at 8:37am EDT
Thinking happy thoughts. Love you with all my heart!
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 10:35pm EDT
Ken we're thinking about you . You and your sweet family are in our hearts.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 10:14pm EDT
Love you, Ken! Huge positive thoughts and prayers heading your way for tomorrow.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 7:34pm EDT
I'm sending positive thoughts your way.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 9:14pm EDT
[First post-surgery report. Hard to read now, because it was relatively positive...] From Jamie Andrews: Ken's doing well. He's answering questions, moving his body. Very groggy. And he's going to have a shiner tomorrow, because of where they had to do the incision. So, here's a cautiously optimistic YAY!

Sunday, October 3, 2010 at 11:36am EDT
Where I was when I was thinking of you...[I believe this was the start of an an incredible project my friend Katherine undertook to get college friends to send her pictures and stories she could collect for me. That book is still one of my most cherished possessions and a reminder that Social Karma is real (i.e. If I'd made such caring friends, I'd done something right with my life.]

Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 2:24am EDT
[I believe this is Dan...]Where I was when I was thinking of you 6:20 PM PDT, Today. My Mom and Stepfather are in town for a few days and wanted to go to Mt Rainier. The meadows around Paradise were utterly spectacular reds greens and yellows, but low clouds hid the mountain entirely from us. On the way down the road back to Seattle, suddenly the overcast skies vanished and we had this view from the side of the road. When you first visited Seattle, our trip to Rainier went the same way. The mountain hid itself from us until we were far enough away to appreciate it. I thought of you.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 11:22am EDT
[Chuck...] I was in Maine visiting my parents when I heard about your health--it was just a few days before your surgery. I thought of you when I saw this sign posted at the store down the road . (You didn't steal those geese, did you?)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 5:13pm EDT
[Julie...]This is a puddle near my house which comes and goes, according to the rain. But whenever it's there, my son jumps in it. Sometimes we put on his boots and go outside in the rain specifically so he can jump in this puddle. People walking by smile. It rained this morning and my son jumped in the puddle on his way to nursery, but by the afternoon when I walked by again, the sun had come out. You can see that it's shining behind me as I snapped the photo, and that the puddle is shrinking. I was thinking about different kinds of permanence. An hour or two after I took this photo, I was visiting a friend of mine who is dying of cancer. He was unconscious and won't wake up again, but I held his hand and we visitors made jokes and I felt he could hear us through his laboured breathing. Afterwards, I went for a walk under the autumn trees in the sunshine and the clear air. And on my way home, the puddle had disappeared. Tonight, it's raining again. We'll put on boots tomorrow. Thinking about you, Ken. Thanks for the reminder to notice the puddles. Julie xx
Sunday, October 10, 2010 at 7:22am EDT
[I think Jamie had returned briefly to Maine to see the boys, for the first time since my surgery.]

Hi, Kinnif [one of Jamie's many nicknames for me]! I miss you horribly! Do you miss me horribly? [an old, call-response joke, from when Jamie and I first started dating. I often traveled to New York for work; and when we talked on the phone each night, that's what she'd ask me. My standard reply was and is, "It's the only way I know how."] I woke to being sandwiched by Wyatt and Gus. We said good morning to you while we lay in bed. It's starting to get cold in the mornings. I am so looking forward to you being here to keep us warm. Yogurt, yogurt, yogurt. [another inside joke from early dating. Neither one of us was brave enough to say we loved each other, so our code word was, "yogurt" Don't ask me why. I suppose they're both the product of active cultures.]

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 8:32pm EDT

 I was inspired by your 70's pic here to shave my beard and gain large chops like you, Ken. I thought the look was great on you. Even the polyester looked great on you. [Not sure who this was from, but it references my attempt to emphasize my sideburns for friends' 70s-themed wedding in August 2010. Probably still our best family photo, back when Wyatt often went pants optional without a moment's notice.]

Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 4:17pm EDT
Hi Ken, I am so happy to hear that you will be heading to Maine tomorrow. We all love you so much and know with all of your friends and your wonderful Jamie and the boys, you will continue to recover. We hope we can make the trip to Maine soon but please know you are in our hearts at all times. [I'm guessing this was my sister or brother.]

Saturday, October 16, 2010 at 9:05pm EDT
I accidentally turned on Jersey Shore [all checked in at the rehab and connected to their WiFi, I was free to start sharing minutia again].

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 7:24pm EDT
It was great to see you today. Phones ringing, range of motion activities, therapists, doctors and nurses visiting. Holy rush hour, Batman. You are totally yourself in the center of all that activity. [I'm guessing this was a work friend who dropped by the rehab in the afternoon.]
Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 11:45pm EDT
seeing all the ladies write on your wall about visits reminds me of how you were the cootie-catcher in 4th grade. such an opportunist, Shapiro. xo. [not sure what childhood friend that was (or, possibly Elizabeth, who has an Auditory Eidetic Memory and will use it to recall vague anecdotes you've told her once. Technically, it was 3rd Grade, and my title was Kissing Bug Helper (it was my job to round up the boys so the girls could kiss them). And, yes, that probably did mark the beginning of my place as, "just one of the girls" and a life philosophy of, "If you can't beat 'um, join 'um".]
Sunday, October 31, 2010 at 2:38pm EDT
I'm very excited for the boys' visit. [Halloween might have been their first visit.]
Sunday, October 31, 2010 at 10:43pm EDT
You are the rockin'est Super Hero I know . I know lots, ya know. It was GREAT seeing you. Your humor astounds me . By the way, Gus really knows how to trick or treat! He got twice as much as the others! Good thing his Wyatt is such an excellent sport. It was a great day.[references my Halloween costume.]

Friday, November 5, 2010 at 9:12pm EDT
One of the nurses sounds just like Looney Tunes' Red Riding Hood - "Hey, Grandma!!"
Monday, November 1, 2010 at 8:20pm EDT
dude! I'm TOTALLY going to copy your superman underpants idea.
Monday, November 1, 2010 at 10:33am EDT
Kathie Lee and Hoda are getting real about body odor. Just in time, too. [I was watching a lot of morning and reality TV.]
Monday, November 1, 2010 at 8:48am EDT
I think you should just wear the superman outfit all week. ;o)

Monday, November 8, 2010 at 6:24pm EST
I'm putting this out there for Chrisanna, my Occupational Therapist: Today I learned how to hit myself in the balls, lefty. Thanks, Chris.
Holmes on Homes gives me faith that TV can do good.
My old roommate snored, even when he wasn't asleep. My new roommate moans a bit. Hopefully, he isn't in pain. Also,hopefully, he doesn't really enjoy being in the hospital.

Thursday, November 11, 2010 at 6:36am EST

Just because I left the TV on all night, I'm watching an inexplicable infomercial mash-up of The Six-week Body Makeover and home energy efficiency tips. I'm not quite sure what channel it's on. Probably HGTV.

Friday, November 12, 2010 at 7:57am EST
Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World is now out on DVD. SO IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR a genre- defying movie that's funny, has well-choreographed fight scenes, and has a heart, be sure to pick it up.

Friday, November 12, 2010 at 1:24pm EST
Somewhat sadly, my moaning roommate, Ernie, has left the building. He's moved on to a nursing home. So begins the era of Roland (my new roomy). No defining features for him yet. [turned out he talked a lot and liked to tell me how his wife knew he was having a stroke because he'd been quiet for a few minutes.]

Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 3:29pm EST
For the first time since I've been here, I was flipping channels and came across wrestling. Hopefully, wherever he is, Ernie was watching. I can't seem to hold on to a roommate - Roland is going home tomorrow. [Ernie's son had put a note on his TV that said, "Ernie likes to watch wrestling," but I don't remember him ever doing so.]

Friday, November 19, 2010 at 5:21pm EST
[From Jamie...]Hello, Lovey. Wyatt just invented the swooshclap, which is what it sounds like. One makes a swooshing motion from up over the head, swooshes down, comes back up, and claps. There is some fairly complicated wrist action that I can't seem to imitate. Wyatt was showing it to Gus and Gus said, "that is SO cool Wyatt, very, very cool". Which in Gus speak sounded like, "dat is so coo Wyatt, wery, wery, coo".

Monday, November 29, 2010 at 8:13pm EST

It was shower day. Hooray! I was able to wash my low knees all by myself. But I still need help with my hiney. I was forced to post that, by the way. Jamie and Chrisanna insisted. Yes, I said it at the time. But I didn't think it was worth repeating.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 7:32am EST
My roommate got a VCR over the weekend and put on The Shining this morning. What a way to start the day -- freaked out! Why should today be different from any other? [Jason was my last roommate, though I've been glad to see him a few times recently. He seems to be doing well, at an independent living facility.]

Friday, December 3, 2010 at 9:26pm EST
Boston cream pie is neither cream nor pie -- discuss.

Sunday, December 5, 2010 at 4:11pm EST
Ken Shapiro with Jamie Andrews at Massachusetts General Hospital. [Back to Boston for my cranioplasty.]
Can't say I'm thrilled to be here. I think I'd recognize it by the smell. Jamie says it makes her sick. Ironically understandable.

Sunday, December 5, 2010 at 8:56am EST
I haven't heard from nearly enough people who've now seen Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
Friday, December 10, 2010 at 1:42pm EST
Ken Shapiro with Jamie Andrews at New England Rehab.
Strange to say it, but it's good to be back at the rehab. It's not home but it's a step in the right direction.

Saturday, December 11, 2010 at 4:35pm EST
I learned today that on January 1, 2011, Discovery Health will become The Oprah Winfrey Network. Does that mean no more I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant? I hope so. I expect better from Oprah.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at 6:32pm EST
How cool is this?: Today I received a package from The Hollywood, California. It was a Scott Pilgrim poster, autographed by Edgar Wright and Anna Kendrick -- director and co-star,respectively, of the film -- along with a nice note saying how they enjoy the blog. Aside from my near constant shilling for the movie, the connection is that Anna's from Maine and her mother works at Unum. [I'm still unsure how they found me.]
Tuesday, December 21, 2010 at 7:53am EST
I'm bothered by Massage Envy(the strip mall chain of massage parlors). Is it supposed to be a play on words? If so, I don't get it. Who are the marketing geniuses who came up with this one? Please explain why this was a good name for the business. [I'd now like to start a campaign to change the name to "Massage in a Bottle"].

Tuesday, December 21, 2010 at 8:52am EST
If Santa's cook books are made by elves, shouldn't he lose weight -- what with the small portions?
Tuesday, December 21, 2010 at 1:58pm EST
Ken Shapiro at Home.
Home for good! Even made my own Spaghettios for lunch. Tastes like freedom.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010 at 11:41am EST
Sharing the family cold. It's good to be home.
Saturday, December 25, 2010 at 4:07pm EST
I was looking at People Magazine's year-end wrap-up, with Sandra Bullock on the cover ("Woman of the Year"). How exactly did my wife miss out on that honor?
Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at 9:23am EST
Once again, Road House has proven itself to be a useful parenting guide: 

  • Pull your hair back before removing a patron from the establishment
  • "Be nice."
  • Slide guitar is cool.
  • Keep a few extra sets of spare tires in your trunk.

Hope you've enjoyed this trip down Memory Lane. They say your social networking history never disappears and may come back to haunt you. I, for one, am glad.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Redefining Success

It's been a pretty  incredible week. Long story short, I was kindly asked to give the closing talk at Maine Medical Center’s Neuroscience Institute & New England Rehabilitation Hospital of Portland's Ninth Annual Stroke Conference on Wednesday, May 25th.

Long story long, I've figured out how to deliver the presentation here in some kind of meaningful format. This link is a placeholder for video to follow in a few weeks (now ready here). Sorry to those of you who prefer a self-contained, emailed version of the blog. That simply wasn't possible this time.

Some instructions:

  • Go to the Presentation Page
  • Click here to download the attachment (this will most likely only work on a computer, not a phone or tablet).
  • Click the NOTES tab at the right side to see my script (I've made the text  as large as I can).
  • Try to read along with the images and/or videos (using the Next arrow at the bottom right)and imagine that I'm delivering those words to you with great aplomb, comfort, and humor.
  • If a video doesn't play automatically, try clicking on the still (though there actually aren't that many videos; most are still images, and I've labeled the videos as such).
  • You can expand the presentation to full screen with the double arrow button to the right of the progress bar, below the slide)
  • There's also an "embedded" version of the presentation below, which should be just as navigable.
While I was nervous to undertake this challenge, I'm proud to say that I think I pulled it off quite well. For one thing, it's mostly just my story and a retread of my "Greatest Hits". And the response was fantastic. Despite being the end of a long day, the turn-out was good, and I got great feedback from friends, strangers, and family alike. Mind you, this was about as welcoming an audience as you could ask for: stroke and other brain injury survivors, medical professionals (many of whom cared for me at the rehab), and Jamie and the boys (you'll see some slides that are pretty specifically for their amusement.

No, I'm not a showman, but I managed to achieve my goal of balancing memorized portions with talking off the top of my head (often while wandering the stage with my wireless lapel mic), and reading verbatim when I had the words written just right but didn't quite trust myself to recall them. Technical glitches were kept to a minimum, except when I accidentally closed my PowerPoint presentation and had to find it again, and when I tried talking over videos that were much louder than I'd anticipated. 

The center portion of my audience ( should've taken a panorama and focused)