On the evening of April 9 2010 I had a stroke.I am only 51 years old! I knew exactly when it happened..I had gotten a sudden excruciating headache and I could not talk. I took an asprin that they said saved my life..an asprin! I have absolutely no family history of stroke.. in 2006 I had a virus hit my heart and thought that I had finally recovered from that..I had lost 55 pounds and life was good. Of all the ways to die, I thought that I would be shot out of the saddle.
I was scared.. .really scared. Dr. Tuttle came in and said right off the bat that I had had a stroke. My smile was lopsided; I was weak on my right side and I was having a hard time answering questions. They immediately took me for a CT scan that confirmed it, they admitted me, took me straight to a room and there I was. They didn’t hook up IV’s or anything. Just watched me. Everything smelled of musk, my least favorite thing. My smeller was working over time. My friend, Marcia Hudson was the first one there. I cried when I saw her. She told me that everything would be ok..If Marcia tells you something it is true. No one on the face of the earth did I want to see than her. Her friend, Theresa, drove her up to the hospital and then Theresa checked on me for the next two days..She is a respiratory therapist at St Joe. All I could say was a few words that didn’t make sense. So people politely said uh huh. Jeff and Amber came on Sunday and they stayed all afternoon. We had a great visit and I will be forever grateful because that is just what I needed. I needed to talk to someone for a while just to practice and with someone who knew me and had the patience to listen to me. It was very hard.
It is funny but, I understood everything that was being said to me. I just couldn’t communicate.. Mitch was very worried but, he held up like a champ. Having a stroke was very interesting, to say the least…I have never been at a loss of words, my daughter says that I talk to everyone and I do!.. So , to not be able to talk or write was devastating. But, I knew it would change, and it did, for a while. Then blood pressure medication became a bad thing.. I woke up one morning itching my head off from head to toe. So we changed that. Then came the antidepressant. It didn’t work and had some very bad complications so I was out on a different one and it was brutal. I cried all of the time and felt like the world was ending..I do not fear death. Since I write about cemeteries I had always wondered what it really would be like to die..not in a morbid way just curious.. all I could do was cry and I knew it was the antidepressants and I could work through it. Depression is a major issue with a stroke.. I had backslid to the point that I could not talk to anyone at all. Mitch had some friends come up from Dallas and that was very trying..I felt that I couldn’t keep up with the conversation. I felt like I was fading away….I felt stupid.
Last Wednesday, I was in Jeff’s office crying my eyes out, again.. I could not write and the key board looked like a jumbled mess, I couldn’t keep up with a conversation, I felt stupid for the first time in my life, I was just a mess. Jeff said that it was the Wellbutrin. He had tried to reactivate the part of the brain that was damaged and it didn’t work. I felt hopeless. Depression is a brutal thing in case some of you are lucky enough to never have had to live with it. It sucks you in and you buy it. Still, I could understand everything. I just felt stupid and had no chance of it ever getting better. I felt that had lost everything and that nothing I could say would be of any interest to anyone. So, I went home and quit taking my Wellbutrin. I was scared at having to wait for the new antidepressant to work and I didn’t know how I could wait didn’t know how I could make it, it felt so permanent. When you are in the hospital the staff never tell you anything about a stroke..NOTHING! So you have to have your wits about you to ask the perfect questions and they still don’t tell you anything..The Doctor didn’t do much better. I finally got strong enough to walk the halls and I noticed everyone in the rooms.. I felt like it was a scientific experiment. There was one lady who motioned for me to come in and turn her lights off..I couldn’t talk and neither could she.. But, there is a silent language between stroke patients.. She could not move, so I turned them off and stood there holding her hand. Our eyes met and she tried to talk to me.. Funny, but I understood everything she was saying. She had been hit hard by the stroke..Her right side was paralyzed, mine wasn’t. She asked me to pray with her and I did. I left and walked down the hall and saw an elderly man who was completely paralyzed and wasn’t going to make it through the night not a flower or person in sight the next morning he wasn’t there. I realized that I was one of the few to have another day. They call this one a warning stroke and I hate that. And the statistics say that if you have a TMI (transient ischemic attack) you are at a 60% risk for getting another..But, it doesn’t tell you what to do to keep from having it. I called the American Heart Association and the National Stroke Association and they said that I would feel much better if I sent them money. I am sure that it would. lol So, no one tells you what to do. You are left to try to figure it out yourself so here I go. I take an aspirin every day and you should too. It is the single most important thing anyone can do for themselves. And I take my blood pressure medicine everyday! I delegate stressful things to others.
I have begun talking on the phone more even though friends stop calling whenever something bad happens. I don’t know why since it is when you need them the most. I think it is because they believe that you may be resting and they don’t want to bother you and some just simply don’t know what to say, then you have some that just simply are not friends in the first place. A stroke weeds them out in a hurry! Mitch isn’t much of a talker so practicing is a bit hard.
And if this wasn’t enough we were in the smack middle of a move to a new house! Mitch handled everything; all I could do was just sit and point. I felt really bad for not being able to anything but realized that I had always had to do everything myself..When I was forty I moved all by myself to Orlando, Florida with no map and no job to start my life over. From a rown of 35,000 to a city ov over two million people. Lived through four category 3 and above hurricanes in six weeks. I have lived through horrific floods in my home town. An epic ice storm, with no power for over two weeks. The death of my aunt, my uncle and my mother six months apart.. Raised a daughter all by myself after her father died in an auto accident, when she was in the second week of first grade. I was a pioneering HIV/AIDS Advocate, when AIDS was not a popular disease, starting with my first patient in 1983. That was two years before they had a test for AIDS. It was still called Gay Related Immune Deficiency. I have worked on a Hollywood movie set nad been kissed by Antonio Bandaras. I have been to two Presidential Inaugurals, been a guest at the White House. I have ridden a camel up to the great Pyramids of Giza…Floated on the Nile and stood on the hill where the Sheppard’s saw the star..The Star, professing the birth of Christ. I have been to the tomb of Jesus and stood at the place of his birth. And I have a daughter and have been blessed with three beautiful grandchildren. So if I am in that sixty percent don’t feel sorry for me..I have had an amazing life, and I know it. And if I am lucky enough to be in that fourty percent then God has granted me a repreive, great friends and an even greater life!