Thursday, August 18, 2011

One Stroky’s Journey: Mirror, Mirror!

Kacie, my miracle makeup angel
My first showers after my transfer to Singing River Hospital Comprehensive Rehabilitation Center left me feeling human again and a little euphoric . . . until I had my first encounter with a mirror since a stroke on April 22, 2011.

What surprises me as I look back at that moment, is that I wasn’t disturbed by the mouth twisted to one side, a result of the muscles on the left side of my face that were weakened by the stroke in the right hemisphere of my brain.

No, I was aghast at another effect of the stroke, and scrambled, as much as a stroke survivor can scramble, to take action. What ignited my determination was the gray, flat expressionless appearance of my face. The absence of expression made me feel like Linda was gone. I knew, however, that I was not missing. I was just camouflaged behind that gray, strokey face.

Color! I needed color to chase away the gray! Never particularly adept with cosmetics, my pre-stroke regimen included moisturizer, a light application of a “natural” light-weight foundation, a little cheek color, and light applications of eye-liner on the top lash line and eyebrow pencil to fill in thinning eyebrows.

I encountered some difficulty as I attempted to start my routine. I was still in a stage of sinking into my safe and comfortable amniotic sea, a state of internal consciousness that did not fully register external surroundings. In the days . . . or weeks . . . that followed, I discovered I could turn on lights in my room and better position my wheelchair to get my nearsighted eyes closer to the little mirror in the bedside table.

This morning, however, I had not made those helpful, and logical, discoveries. I was having trouble seeing. That is when Kacie appeared. A tech from second floor, she was temporarily helping out on fourth floor where the rehab center had a full house. She had been a makeup artist in a previous occupation. She asked if I would mind if she helped. Mind? I was ecstatic!

I did get a little uneasy, however, when she went to work. With unbelievable speed she was applying what seemed like more cosmetics than I had ever used in my life, patting, smoothing, brushing, and chatting with total confidence. She even worked on my hair.

When she was through I knew she really was a heaven-sent angel. Other people may have seen the face of a stroke’s impact that day. But I felt great, looking happily out at the world. I no longer felt camouflaged behind flat, strokey gray.

We met again shortly before I was discharged. I was able to thank Kacie once more and tell her how much her generous sharing of her make up expertise lifted my spirits. A lasting gift from that experience was that I have a little more relaxed attitude, confidence and even enjoyment about my makeup application, although it is still in the minimum category.

I am also still unsophisticated about the whole process. But I think Kacie’s comment as she was wielding an eyebrow pencil that morning somehow forged a new neural pathway for me. I still smile when I think of her cheerful pronouncement, “Eyebrows are supposed to be sisters, not twins.” Thank you, Kacie.

Angels of abundant variety surround me during my recovery. I had fun snapping pix of this little one below that was  lurking around my laptop a couple days ago.


  1. I, too, had a wonderful tech during my hospital stay. It wasn't until i had experienced several more techs that I realized how outstanding this one was!

  2. Indeed, what an angel! This is something women will understand, and men will likely roll their eyes about! It is very important to us, isn't it? I'm glad Kacie was there for you!

  3. This is such a heartwarming post. I love that Kacie did this for you. She saw your need and responded. That qualifies her for an angel

    You posts about your journey are amazing. I think you are a wonderful resource for others. Even though I have never suffered a stroke, I am inspired by you.

  4. What an amazing young lady Kacie is. Most people, myself included, would be so concentrated on helping with the physical healing that self image restoring would not cross my mind. Wow. She is special.

  5. i like that eyebrow comment and the little angel doing her YES!

  6. I am so impressed with the young men and women who have ententered the field of nursing and therapy.

    One young woman in particular impressed me. She was David's PT when he had his knee replacement in May. I watched her work with stroke victims and joint replacement patients day after day.

    Although she was only 28, she had been in a terrible auto accident and had lost the use of her knee which was now a replacement. As David tried to bend his knee centimeter by centimeter, day after day, she sat on her bent leg and inspired him.

    What a wonderful idea that eyebrows are sisters. Going to remember that one.


  7. What a sweet post! I love how God sent you a ray of "sunshine" through this sweet young lady! I love her commnt about the eyebrows :)

    What an inspiring angel you have there! Go Linda!