The stroke happened almost three years ago while driving down an Interstate on an Easter Sunday morning. Luckily, my 86-year old mother was in the passenger seat and grabbed the wheel to crash us on the side of the highway. Two good Samaritans stopped to help, and I was soon taken by ambulance to two different hospitals. The second one was able to conduct a thrombectomy, whereby they inserted a catheter through an artery in my groin, snaked it into my brain, and, with a basket, “caught the clot.” (It sounds like a video game, doesn’t it?) The procedure saved my life.
I had to have many hours of physical, occupational, and speech therapies to get to where I am now. It’s been a long haul, and I’m still getting better. I consider myself not a stroke “victim,” but rather a stroke SURVIVOR. I’m alive!!!
For a recent birthday, my husband surprised me with a trip to Paris, a city in which I spent my salad days. As a young American girl right out of college, I lived in the 17th arrondissement and worked in a law firm as an assistant to the chief partner’s secretary. My French was parfait. But after my stroke, I thought I would never have the strength to travel to Europe again. I was afraid of how jetlag might affect my double vision. Since I was four years old, I’ve had it, but would the fatigue from overseas travel make my double vision worse? Would I see two-times the ghost images that I usually see?
One of our stops was the Eiffel Tower, where I saw a woman in a wheelchair being pushed by her husband. I was overwhelmed. That could have been me. When my husband saw me crying, he knew exactly why.
“It looks like she has something congenital. Yours is more from your stroke,” Andrew said as he wiped my tears.
My husband has been my hero. He encourages me and is honest with me. I am slightly aphasic and weak on my right side. During the trip, Andrew was patient with my walking and keeping up with him. We stayed in a flat in the 6th arrondissement on the third floor of a historic building. No elevator. I let Andrew go ahead of me because it takes me longer to climb all those stairs. But I did it!
My hands might be shakier, and my walk less brisk. I keel to the right after a long day … but I’m alive. Whenever I start feeling low, I catch myself and say, “It could have been so much worse.”
Live your life to the fullest, and be grateful that you are waking up to a new day. And I wish it on everyone to feel how wondrous it is to fall in love again with the man I’ve been married to for more than three-and-a-half decades. Life is so incredibly good.