If my patience wears thin during my recovery, a trip on my recumbent trike can provide a better frame of mind. Here I meet bikers on a recent trip. LISA BRAINARD/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
If my patience wears thin during my recovery, a trip on my recumbent trike can provide a better frame of mind. Here I meet bikers on a recent trip. LISA BRAINARD/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
There's an ability to "go with the flow" that comes naturally to some people. Two words to encompass that experience would be patience and calm.

My past life was far, far from this. What I refer to as my "past life" is my life up until Sept. 12, 2012. That was the day I lost my balance in what should have been a simple activity of moving one leg to safety (as people say, that's why they're called accidents) and fell 26 feet, face down into rocks and four inches of water in the Root River. Then, it was all further complicated by a stroke while I was recovering at the hospital.

But back to my past life, I often was impatient. I had little tolerance for long meetings, people who protested too much over having their photos taken, slow checkout lines in stores, or the people fumbling and digging in purses, causing some of the delay.

Now I'm that person fumbling with the backpack I use to carry items. You see, my right hand is in charge of a cane, while my left hand shakes all over the place, all on its own. So a backpack can come in quite handy.

However, even handling the backpack presents problems. I try to hold onto it with the left hand or brace it between the checkout counter and my shaky left leg, all as I attempt to unzip it with the right hand. Sometimes I drop it. Getting my checkbook out and attempting to write a check results in major shaking of that small writing platform. The checkbook and/or pen may go flying.

Heck, I recently dropped an ID in front of the local grocery store, where luckily and thankfully it was found and returned to me. The writing on my check is not easy to read. I'm mostly balancing on my good right leg as I do all this, but then the left leg starts to tire and adds an additional level of shaking.

Bottom line, I am slowing down the whole process - and I hate it. I feel what I expect are the impatient eyes of the nearby world drilling into me.

When I share this with others, they tell me I'm just very sensitive to the perception of others now as I continue my recovery and face my new life as a person with disabilities.

I'm trying to be patient with myself, but it's hard. I have made some great strides in being patient with others. Being in a hospital for a long recovery period and later going back for many follow-up appointments has been a good teacher. I may need to refrain from eating to take a test later in the day. Sometimes the doctors are really late to an appointment (but I understand firsthand how an emergency might set them back).

I'm working with a lot of different people to get rides to appointments. Sometimes I'll even line up one ride up and a different one back, especially if I have a long day of numerous appointments. I'm thankful for rides and hate to inconvenience the drivers any more than need be, like making someone wait all day - unless that person might enjoy or make good use of a full day around Rochester.

If I have to wait, it's OK. I just try to take some deep breaths and think happy thoughts in the doctor's office. Or I may shuttle between Gonda downtown to Saint Marys to use the library; take in a free educational presentation over the lunch hour at Gonda/Mayo (yes, one is on stress management, thank you); or listen to the piano music and entertainment at Gonda/Mayo.

During my most recent trip I wandered around the Plummer Building, which was the first Mayo Clinic building constructed in the late 1920s. It includes a small museum on the third floor. Plus, its design and architecture are lavish and gothic. That excursion was time well spent.

Now, let's shift the focus onto me. I am not nearly so patient with myself in my new life. I want to walk, photograph, type, hike, rockhound, mountain bike and climb a well-branched tree as I used to. The medicines I'm taking in an attempt to control shakiness and muscle tightness need to start with low doses and build up to a dose that might show results - "titration" is the word I've learned for that process. If a medication shows no results I repeat the process in reverse to slowly get off it. Then everything is repeated with the next hopeful medication. It's all a slow, drawn-out endeavor.

I'm not going to lie. Sometimes as my hand shakes - or especially as I flop around on my bed like a fish to attempt to roll over (because nothing on my left side is moving as it should and is all tight) - I just want to scream as loud as I can in frustration or throw and break some glassware. But neither is really an option.

So I need to hit the deep breathing. Better yet, maybe I'll be able to take my recumbent trike out or get in a walk with my cane (including a few steps here and there without it).

Patience is a virtue... and I'm working on it. I welcome your positive thoughts as I learn to cut myself the same slack in my recovery and rehabilitation - in other words, "My New Life" - as I'm working to give others.