My Stroke in the Fast Lane
The Steady Flow of Gratitude
It was Easter Sunday morning almost five years ago. I picked up my then 86-year-old mother and was bringing her to my place for the afternoon. On the way home — while driving on an interstate highway — I had a stroke.
I was fit and healthy. My face, arms, or legs didn’t suddenly feel weak or numb. I wasn’t confused, lightheaded, or dizzy. I didn’t have a headache. The truth was, I FELT NOTHING.
As the stroke happened, my mother, who was in the passenger seat, panicked. She snapped her fingers in front of my face. There was no response as I kept driving. My hands gripped the wheel.
My mother then screamed, “Bonni, pull over! Pull over!”
I heard her in the distance but didn’t react. I wondered why she was telling me this and looked down at my right hand, shaking in the console.
Then my mother did something truly heroic. With the car going 65 miles per hour, she leaned over and highjacked the wheel. So there we were: mother and daughter careening into the guard rail on the side of the highway.
Such began my long journey into the strangeness of Stroke Land. It was two hospitals; brain surgery, acute-care in-patient rehab, and physical, occupational, and speech therapies. I had to re-learn how to walk, talk, swallow, and get back to living my life.
Surgeons have since put in a pacemaker to prevent my heart from firing off another clot. (Blood thinner was a step to protect me even more.) Unfortunately, the first pacemaker, which was supposed to last ten years, had to be replaced after only five years because of wiring malfunction. So now I have a brand new pacemaker with eleven years warranty! Weeee-ohhhh!!
I can’t help but think back to my stroke: personal victories, like walking, talking, and even tying my shoes. While after the stroke, I couldn’t organize my thoughts, today I can sit here, think, create, and type. A once weakened body and mind are strong and getting stronger, even five years later.
Remember: A stroke can happen to you. Any time. Anywhere. Even while driving a car.
Be grateful for everything in your life: family, friends, good times, and gatherings. Let gratitude light the way.
Bonni Brodnick is author of POUND RIDGE PAST, a contributor to HuffPost, and a former editorial staffer at Condé Nast Glamour and House & Garden. She has written scripts for Children’s Television Workshop, was a weekly newspaper columnist, and editor of two academic mags. Bonni is a member of Pound Ridge Authors Society and has a blog (bonnibrodnick.com). She is also a proud Stroke Survivor.
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