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.

What to Expect in Stroke Rehab

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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AHA-ASA Resources

The Support Network

When faced with challenges recovering from heart disease or stroke, it’s important to have emotional support. That is why we created a network to connect patients and loved ones with others during their journey.

Stroke Family Warmline

The Warmline connects stroke survivors and their families with an ASA team member who can provide support, helpful information or just a listening ear.

Let's Talk About Stroke Patient Information Sheets

Let's Talk About Stroke is a series of downloadable patient information sheets, created by the American Stroke Association, that presents information in a question-and-answer format that's brief, easy to follow and easy to read.

Request Free Stroke Information Packets

Fill out this online form to request free information about a variety of post-stroke topics.

Caregiver Guide to Stroke

The Caregiver Guide to Stroke is meant to help caregivers better navigate the recovery process and the financial and social implications of a stroke.

Tips for Daily Living Library

This volunteer-powered library gathers tips and ideas from stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals all over the country who’ve created or discovered adaptive and often innovative ways to get things done!

Stroke Support Group Finder

To find a group near you, simply enter your ZIP code and a mile radius. If your initial search does not pull up any groups, try
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Stroke & Parts of the Brain

When Stroke Affects the Frontal Lobe

Of the four lobes that make up the cerebral cortex, the frontal lobe is the largest. It plays a huge role in many of the functions that make us human — memory, language, movement, judgment, abstract thinking.

When Stroke Affects the Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe has several functions, mainly involved with memory, perception and language.

When Stroke Affects the Brain Stem

The brain stem serves as a bridge in the nervous system. It sits at the top of the spinal column in the center of the brain. When a stroke happens there, it can cause a few different deficits and, in the most severe cases, can lead to locked-in syndrome.

When Stroke Affects the Thalamus

The thalamus can be thought of as a "relay station," receiving signals from the brain’s outer regions (cerebral cortex), interpreting them, then sending them to other areas of the brain to complete their job.
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Stroke Notes

Stroke-related news you can use about new scientific findings, public policy, programs and resources.

Readers Room

Articles, poems and art submitted by stroke survivors and their loved ones.

Life Is Why

Everyone has a reason to live a longer, healthier life. These stroke survivors, caregivers and others share their 'whys'. We'd love for you to share yours, too!

Everyday Survival

Practical tips and advice for day-to day living after stroke.

Life At The Curb

A unique perspective on survival by comedian and stroke survivor John Kawie.

Simple Cooking

Cooking at home can be a daunting task, but a rewarding one for your diet and lifestyle (and your wallet). Making small changes in your diet is important to your heart health. Here are simple, healthy and affordable recipes and cooking tips.

Support Showcase

Our new department highlighting the good work being done by stroke support groups from around the nation. If you are part of a successful support group we should consider featuring, let us know!