Five years ago today, I was living with my husband and the big guy at my parents' house. Our home was being remodeled and expanded, and we were staying with them during the construction. The day started much like any other. We were sitting in the family room, enjoying a little raisin toast, watching the then 18-month-old big guy run around, and following the "Today" show's continuing coverage of the previous week's London bombings.
As we (my mother, husband, son & I) were enjoying the morning, I started to get a ringing in my ears. It was not the normal ringing that everyone gets occasionally. It was so loud, it drowned out everything, the television, my toddler, everything. I started to panic and exclaimed to my husband, "I can't move!!" and indeed, I felt like I couldn't move my arms or legs. However, according to my husband, I was flailing wildly, thrashing all of my limbs about.
My husband called an ambulance and I was taken to the hospital right away. We spent the entire day in the Emergency Room where none of the doctors could figure out what was wrong with me. I was in and out of consciousness while they ran myriad tests. They were reluctant to give me a CT scan to check me out neurologically, because I was too young for that type of ailment. Finally, at the end of the day when the doctors had exhausted all of their options, they scheduled me for a CT scan. Turns out I'd had a stroke with a cerebellar infarction, which had caused a clot in my brain.
I was pretty much out of it as they came to this diagnosis, and my parents were home taking care of my son. The neurologist and the neurosurgeon were at odds on how to treat me. The neurosurgeon took my husband into a utility closet, and basically said to him, "If we don't operate on your wife, she is going to die." My poor husband, he said he immediately wanted to call a 'grown-up' because he didn't know what to do. He decided to sign the consent papers and go ahead with the surgery.
To make a long story short, they put me into a medically-induced coma, performed the surgery to remove part of my cerebellum and I stayed in the ICU for about a week. While this was an excruciating time for my family, I barely remember any of it. The recovery wasn't too bad either. I was in physical therapy for about a month, and then I was released. I have a huge scar from the base of my skull to about half way up my head but that's it. I have absolutely no residual effects.
I would never, ever say I am glad this happened, but I am thankful for the awesome perspective it gave me, and how it demonstrated what is important. My family, friends, health, happiness are really all that matters in this life. It also really taught me that things I thought were so vital, like material possessions or petty jealousies, really aren't worth it.
So, five years later, not only going strong, but almost like my stroke never even happened. I never much thought about the phrase, "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger" until this. I'm happy to say I'm living proof.