Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Little Red Hen ..Or.. "I'll Do It Myself!"

Remember the old folk tale about the Little Red Hen? My Mom read it to me as a child. My kids had the illustrated Little Golden Book which I read to them. A classic.

The Little Red Hen finds some wheat seeds. Rather than eat them, she decides to plant them. When she asks the other barnyard animals, "who wants to help me plant this wheat?", they all decline. So she says, "Then I'll do it myself." and she does.

At each further stage of development: watering, harvesting, threshing, carrying the grain to the mill to be made into flour, carrying the flour home, baking it into bread, she asks who will help her and all decline. Finally the bread comes out of the oven. The heavenly aroma wafts over the barnyard. "Who will help me eat my bread?" the Little Red Hen asks. "I will, I will, I will!" the other animals chorus. "No you will not!" the hen replies. "You didn't help plant or water or harvest or mill the wheat, nor help bake the bread. My chicks and I will eat it ourselves." And so they did.

I've always been a little red henish - preferring to do it myself rather than ask for or even accept help. My Dad used to complain that, "You're too damn independent for your own good!" My children see me as a strong and independent woman; Preston describes me as fiercely independent. 
There have been times during my 69+ years that circumstances have forced me to ask for help. And during those times I've hated it, but also realized that asking for and accepting help is one of those life lessons I need to work on.

Last week I got another one of those reminders that I need to learn to graciously accept help. I had an ischemic stroke in the left internal capsule of the middle cerebral artery branch. I had experienced a small TIA (transient ischemic attack) last year. It was something I expected; my mother, grandmother and older brother had all had them. So last Tuesday, when I began having the same numbness and weakness in my right hand and arm, I thought, "Oh, another TIA." (Actually there were three short episodes on Tuesday.) Wednesday was one long episode which left me with some residual weakness on my right side. I went to bed thinking I'd be fine by morning. But the weakness was still there Thursday morning. I decided to go to the doctor AFTER I'd had breakfast, a shower, etc.
Bud came home from the Y to take me but before he could get me into the car, I collapsed onto the floor. He called the ambulance.

I was very lucky this time. One week later and even the partial right side weakness I still had when I came home from the hospital on Sunday is almost completely gone today. I am not any closer to being able to ask for or accept help doing things. I hope I don't have to experience a debilitating stroke or some other illness before I can quit saying, "I'll do it myself!" 

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