The Book of Hope

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It’s easy to take for granted that all our body parts function more or less normally. Until they don’t, and that’s when it helps to have a Book of Hope. Jane Meredith Adams has this Perspective.

Last week in bed, I hit myself in the lip with my left hand. I haven’t moved my left hand in seven months, so the gesture got my attention. Weakness and paralysis on one side of the body are signatures of a stroke, and after my stroke last fall, they turned my left arm and leg into immobile strangers. Smacking myself in the lip means my left side is coming back.

I made a note in my new Book of Hope. On the day of the stroke, I almost had a miracle cure, a shortcut to hope. Fifteen minutes after I received a drug to dissolve the blood clot in my brain, the paralysis on my left side went away. I raised my left arm and leg in the air and moved them around. I’m going back to work with an amazing story, I thought.

The reprieve ended. I could no longer move my left side. The doctor had no explanation. Tears slid down my face.

Nurse Katie took my hand. “Don’t go down the hole,” she said.


How did she know of my proclivity to worry and doom?

I‘ve long maintained in my mind, without setting out to do so, a Book of Doom, but this week marks the opening chapter of the Book of Hope. “You gotta give ‘em hope,” Harvey Milk said. He was right.

Since the stroke, I see more clearly that suffering is wildly commonplace. Just as common, although harder to see, is the hope that propels us to face another day. Finding the hope is like what my physical therapist Carrie calls “finding the signal,” the electrical impulses from my brain that connect to the muscles in my arm and leg.

At physical therapy I lie on a mat as Carrie holds my left arm straight up in the air over my head. She releases it. “Find your arm,” she says. My arm begins to wobble and then my brain sends a signal and, click, I find it and hold my arm steady.

With a Perspective, I’m Jane Meredith Adams.

Jane Meredith Adams lives in Berkeley