I had quite nice handwriting before the stroke and had always written in my journal ever since the eighties. The trips we did, all the colour and excitement of new places to view, to take photographs, to savour the wines or what they have as a national beverage and taste different foods

I remember squeezing my handwriting to be so small, as to be almost illegible; but I managed to read it when we returned from holidays.

I also remembered the souks in mystical Marrakech, the excitement of Disney World, the ominous threat of thunder as we journeyed in South Africa to see game, the absolute wonderment of Egypt.

After the stroke, my writing skills had diminished; having gone to zilch. Having had the stroke, I now had to re-learn how to write from scratch with my non-dominant hand. Butter the bread, cut the toast, brush my teeth, use chopsticks, ... what, write with my non-dominated hand? Life after stroke is challenging. From being a right-hander, I now had to use my left hand side for everything.

Even for taking photos – would there be a camera for me, a left-handed camera? Apparently not, or very few camera manufacturers had that in stock. The sales assistants at the camera stores had not a clue....what, did you say you wanted? The camera had to be light and maneuvrable with my one hand, yet take good photos.

This was a challenge in the 90's era... So, I've got a right-handed camera with some considerations: the flash had to be on the left; otherwise my left/good hand would cover it if I'd wanted to put the flash on. Hmmm... food for thought.

One other important reason why I had to drastically re-learn to write with my left hand – was that I had still Travellers cheques made out to my name. The joys of working overseas is that you get to travel: Europe beckoned, Asia was accessible, America was a longer trip away, but still great. I had had Travellers-Cheques issued in my name, with my signature, before my stroke... – oh bummer.  It took a couple of years to get the signature acceptable but it was a laugh when we remember the debacle it caused.

My attempt to spell was a disaster, to begin with. My lack of memory was still so severe - I would attempt the first few letters of the word, but I would have forgotten what I was that I was going to spell. Then, I began to use the internet in the simplest form, just typing an email.

With the use of a PC, I typed one-handedly and only with with one finger - hunt+peck sort of thing.  After only 10 minutes my head would ache from tiredness, and having to try to think and put things in order, before I forgot what I was going to say. I grappled with the new activity. And my shoulder of rest of my upper body was very tight with agonizing pain (the sub-luxation of my right shoulder). It was only a one line sentence, but, I had to read it, and read it.... & perhaps on the 20th time reading it, I would discover that I had missed out two important bits that made the sentence sensible, in that one line.

Jacqui Hynd: author - Travels with a One-Handed Cook and cook eat be happy
 

It would a long while before I was writing the just simplest email. Even though I've progressed somewhat from that time, when I was struggling with words, writing, memory, etc., I've still a long way to journey. But, I'd made a decision, to have milestones along the way; from the cookery books I'd written such as Travels with a One-Handed Cook, to childrens books, etc.

My challenge is to myself: what am I better at, this year, compared to the previous year. Feeling good within yourself, is one the first steps of going forward.