Only the Lonely



“May I help you sir?” the receptionist asked. I’m sure she sensed my apprehension. I was, you see, standing in the middle of a nail salon called “Dashing Diva.” I wasn’t there meeting my wife. I was there as a customer. “Dashing Diva” is in our neighborhood. 

The décor is pink, and black …very pink, and black. Even the staff’s T-shirts are pink and black. I felt like I was standing in a box of “Good & Plenty.” I gazed down at the receptionist’s polished nails. They looked like a bad acid trip I had in college. Now I began to search for an escape route.

In any case this was week three of Marilyn’s five-week business trip to Auckland, New Zealand. According to the map I googled, New Zealand is on the other side of the world in an area of the South Pacific called Oceania. It sounded like a make-believe land where Aquaman comes from. It looked like it would take three weeks just to get there. Marilyn has been on business trips before, so being left alone after the stroke to fend for myself was nothing new. What was new was the length of time she’d be gone.

My meal preparation problem was solved with two words – “take out.” Two words also helped me get through the laundry – “clean underwear.” Housekeeping? I even managed to change the Swiffer pad one handed.  Everything was going fine, but of course there’s always that one thing that drives you crazy. For me it was cutting my nails. I tried to ignore it, but I was starting to look like a vampire with a couple of broken nails. I was a disgrace even to the undead. I put the nail clipper between my knees like Susanne Sommers and the Thighmaster. I didn’t cut my nails. But I did manage to launch the nail clipper across the room. This called for drastic measures.

So, on my way to the drugstore, I passed the pink awning that said “Dashing Diva.” To me men getting manicures was an urban myth. But I was desperate. With a combination of determination and fear, I spontaneously ducked in, and tried to act as nonchalant as possible. While I was planning my escape a gaggle of manicurists surrounded me. I was like a pet. I explained the stroke, New Zealand, and that I didn’t want my nails to look like The Bedazzler.

I was hoping they’d shove me in some dark corner, and it would be over quickly. Instead, one of them led me to where no man has gone before – to a table right in front next to the picture window overlooking 8th Street. Only a spot on the evening news would have given me more exposure. The table was laid out with more tools than Home Depot. “What’s that for?” I nervously asked, as she grabbed a pink polka dot bottle. She told me to relax, it was only lotion, and she wanted to massage my affected hand before she started. “Oooo, that feels good!” I moaned. Suddenly, I was cast under some kind of voodoo spell, because I immediately made another appointment for more of this “Dashing Diva Therapy.”

From Life at the Curb in the September/October 2006 issue of Stroke Connection magazine.

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Stroke Rehabilitation Two-Part Series

Making the Best Decisions at Discharge After Stroke

The type of rehabilitation and support systems a survivor receives at discharge can strongly influence health outcomes and recovery. In this, the first part of a two-part series on stroke rehab, we offer guidance for the decision-making process required when it’s time to leave the hospital.

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Following a stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type rehabilitation. In this second of our two-art series, we want to alleviate some of the mystery, fear and anxiety around the inpatient rehab part of the stroke recovery journey.
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Departments

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Life At The Curb

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