Thursday, July 03, 2008

Life is Full of Changes, but I'm Still Here

A week ago my life changed forever.

At age 54, I had a stroke.

It was around 8 pm, and I was cleaning up in the kitchen after making some jello. My right leg suddenly went wobbly, and after a few seconds of fighting to stand, I slid to the floor.

"No problem," I thought, "I'll just rest here for a few moments, then I'll get up and go sit for a while."
As I turned over to position myself to stand up, I flopped on my face. My right side, both arm and leg, were completely paralyzed. They were both just dead weight, and wouldn't budge.

At that moment, I realized I'd had a stroke. My brain was still functioning, but when I tried to talk out loud to myself into moving towards a chair, I realized that my speech was screwed too.

Time to regroup. I needed help. I was alone, all by myself in a loft apartment over an antiques shop which was closed for the evening. The only help was my bedroom phone, just 40 feet away.

Forty feet is a long, long ways when only half your body works. I dragged myself, slowly, six inches at a time. After every pull-push, I rested for a few minutes. My useless right arm kept trapping beneath my body, making it even harder to move forward - and I couldn't make that arm do anything. Moving fast just wasn't going to be an option.

It took two hours to get to the phone. By then, my arm and leg were working a bit, although not completely. I was able to reach my phone, and called my neighbor instead of 911. I was afraid that the 911 operator wouldn't be able to understand me, maybe not even hear me. My voice was so small and frail, and it still wasn't much more than garble. I sounded like my mouth was full of cotton balls.

My good friend and neighbor, Miriam, is also my landlord. She is a true gem. I never call her late at night, so this call was unusual. I could only stammer a few words, and she knew immediately that I was in trouble. She came running, believing that I was going into diabetic shock. She was there, in her jammies, inside of a minute - we live in separate buildings only 50 apart.

I wasn't able to tell her much - being a bit dazed from dragging myself across the apartment, I just wasn't able to talk. The only thing I could get out were two words - "stroke . . . hospital."

She called the ambulance, got me help, and had me on my way to the hospital in very short order. She followed in her big antiques van, and stayed with me for hours in the ER until I was finally taken to my room. She made phone calls for me. She held my hand. She is the best friend one could ask for.

So, for the past week, I've been in the hospital and now, finally, released with no restrictions. I can talk and walk. The doctor has told me to do whatever I want as long as I am comfortable.

My speech has returned to nearly 100%. But I'm paranoid that every time I mis-speak - as we all do sooner or later - that it's because of the stroke.

Tom is here with me now, for the time being. He's made sure I take all my new meds - there's a whole lot of them now, at least until they get me balanced. He's cooked for me, driven me around to doctors and lab tests. He's taken me out for photo shoots just for fun. He's helped me ease back into life again. He is the very best of best husbands one could have. I am so blessed.

Because of him, I'm beginning to think I'm okay. That's the first huge step towards wellness.

I'm okay. I'm okay. I'm okay.

The more I say it, the easier it gets.

10 comments: said...

Dear Beth,

You might remember us from LO.
Frenk and Danielle from DNF-Style.
We just wanted to command you to get well soon ;-)
And you know our commands are law don't you?

Get well soon dear.
Frenk and Danielle

hospitalera said...

Great to hear that you are feeling better! Take care! SY

Anonymous said...

Beth, I remember you from LO and I'm so sorry to hear that you are ill. My very best wishes to you and I hope your recovery isn't too much of a long haul.
Please take care and do what the doctors tell you!


Karin said...

Oh my goodness, Beth. I'm so glad to hear you're okay. What's up with us girls having to crawl across floors this year anyway, huh? ;-)


RolMat said...

This is Rui, RolMat from LO!
I got this unpleasant message from SY and I also felt obligated to send you my most warm wishes of a fast recovery. Please keep all of us posted and get well soon!
All the best, the very best to you.

RolMat / Rui said...

Dear Beth,

This is Rui/RolMat from LO. I got this nasty message of your experience and felt compelled to send you my most warm wishes of a fast recovery. I sincerely hope you get well soon!
All the Best to You!!


Photo_Bard said...

Hi Beth,

I'm so sorry to hear about your recent stroke. I was wondering why you weren't on the Loonie boards!
Anyways, it's great that you are AOK. Take great care of yourself and then start shooting again.


Alex said...

Wishing you a speedy recovery and thank goodness for having a super neighbor and a stellar husband. Super dependable!

Warmest Regards,


maigi said...

Hi, Beth!!
I'm sooo sad and so happy... so sad that you got into such trouble, and happy that you have such good friends who helped and help you, and you are back home right now.
Wish from my heart you'll get better soon,

melanie said...

OMGosh, Beth.. this post could have come from my fingertips! Thank you so much for sharing it. My heart pounding so hard because I can't believe I've found someone else who has gone through what I just did. And not to mention the hope you have given me to recover also. I agree with your claim that positive attitude is one of the best tools to regain my life.