Friday, March 20, 2009

Stroke Survivor: Aspirin and a Prayer

On March 20th, 2006,  I was skiing down a mountain on Spring Break. I looked up to wave at some friends on a lift and my world turned upside down, both figuratively and literally. (No fall, it just happened the moment I looked up.)

Almost 24 hours later, they would determine that I had a stroke of the lower right cerebellum. "You were so lucky," my husband and I heard over and over. Yes, it was close to the brain stem, which would have been fatal. If it had happened in the cerebrum I would have had paralysis, plus speech and memory problems. Instead, I had balance, coordination, and dizziness issues. Did I feel lucky? No, I felt scared, then furious, and finally depressed.

Two months later when no one could tell why this 48 year old nonsmoker had a stroke, we traveled to the Mayo Clinic. I learned that an artery in my brain had dissected or blown to bits. No known cause. No guarantees it wouldn't happen again. "Every day take an adult strength aspirin and (call me in the morning??) get on with the business of living. Besides, none of us gets any guarantees." I regained my equilibrium and found a new perspective. In the business of living, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that our time here is limited and precious.

So on this 3rd anniversary, a glance back at what I wrote a year after the stroke. "Lest I forget..."

Living Deliberately

Wishing the life away
Waiting for the weekend
Not enough time
Too much work
Too little pleasure
When is Christmas vacation?
Spring Break?
How long until school is out?
Time filled with too much television
Too little energy
Putting things off
Asleep at the wheel of my days
Walking laps on the treadmill of life
Putting in my time with little thought
A life that saps more energy than it gives
And then…
STROKE—a near miss for this 48 year old
And suddenly: life is finite and fragile
Living Deliberately
Living Consciously
Cutting out the unnecessary
Making the mundane manageable
Finding fun in the "need to dos"
Spending more time doing what I love
Spending more time with those I love
Learning to say no
Not allowing my moments manipulated
Walking away from the tedious, the negative
Enjoying, laughing, listening, loving
Not allowing apathy or laziness to determine how the seconds tick off
Choosing how to fill my moments
Being present
Appreciating the gift of 50 years of life

So, when people say "You've changed"
Damn straight I have.
No guarantees in this life
Whether 15 or 48
This is "Take No Prisoners" living
Making my minutes count
For as long as I can
I want no regrets
In how I spent
The time I was given


A said...

wow. you definitely share words to live by. i'm thankful for you being so lucky. i remember thinking about you often after your stroke...

your poem definitely makes me stop and think. the line about being asleep at the wheel is so often true and done without realizing. i think i'll often come back and read this poem (i've already read it a few times over since you posted) to be reminded of living deliberately.

ELK said...

yes so true ~so glad you shared this ~ ELK

Gayle said...

I am going to print out your poem and put it up where I can read it every day. You have written this so beautifully. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and your wisdom with us.

Kim @ Forever Wherever said...

I'm so glad everything is going well for you! Heart issues run in my family so stories like this always hit close to home.


Shalet said...

Sounds like your stroke gave you your life back. We do indeed need to appreciate each and every day!

FlowerLady said...

That was a lovely piece written from your heart, your life.

Thank you for sharing that here. A great reminder of what's really important.

Hugs ~ FlowerLady

Dandy said...

~sigh~ What is going on with me? I'm totally crying. But in a good way. I know this life lesson but its so good to read it. To remember that I need to focus on living every day. Its a decision to live this way and I don't ever want to forget my commitment to making the most of every moment.

2nd Cup of Coffee said...

Love it, love it. YOu need to submit this for publication. It could inspire many.

Kim said...

With your recent "wobble," I decided to look at your old posts about your stroke (which I hadn't done before). The poem is amazing. I agree with the people who commented before: I need to print out this poem. Thanks for sharing. Hope you are feeling better each and every day.