It was the worst day of my life. And the beginning of it.
I had worked late and was the last one out of the office. I came home and met my husband on our porch and sat down with him to visit for a minute before we went inside.
What I was feeling didn't make any sense, it felt like someone was pouring a glass of warm water over my head. I felt the warm sensation "pour over" the left side of my body and everything relaxed. I started to fall. My husband looked at me and asked what was wrong. I told him I didn't know and I kept slumping over.
He ran in to get his phone and when he came out he kept asking me if my leg hurt. I was crumpled in a lump on the porch at that point, but I couldn't feel anything. I couldn't move either, but I was strangely calm and detached. When the paramedics came they asked about my leg too... I felt nothing. Then they unfolded me. I had tried to catch myself by holding onto the porch railing, which didn't work out so well. I twisted my whole body–dislocated my ankle & my knee & tore my mcl. My foot was snapped backwards and my knee was twisted in at a crazy angle. It was in the ambulance that I heard it for the first time, "you've had a stroke". That's why I couldn't feel my leg. I was paralyzed from the hip down on the left side. I had some weakness in my left arm, but it was nothing compared to the leg.
They told me if I had stayed an extra 30 minutes at work, I would've been alone and died. If it had happened behind the wheel, I would've died. They said I had about a 5-minute window, and if my husband hadn't been there talking to me when it happened, I probably would have been dead by the time he came back into the room.
So you see–it was the worst day of my life. And the beginning of it.
I was diagnosed with a serious heart condition when I was 28, 2 months before I got married. They told me if they hadn't caught it, then I wouldn't have made it past age 30. When I collapsed from severe CHF at 32 they said I wouldn't have made it past 35. When I had the stroke at 34 they said it was a miracle I made it that far at all. The left side of my heart had stopped and blood had pooled in one of the ventricles. A large clot broke off and hit my brain like a bomb.
I did so much physical therapy. At first I was in braces from my foot up to my hip and using a walker every day (that felt like forever). Then I had a bad limp. Now, unless you really watch me you wouldn't know the difference. I'm still slow on stairs and my leg drags a little when I'm tired. I still can't feel most of my left leg below the knee. I have difficulty moving my toes. And sometimes I still get agonizing leg cramps because my left leg is still so much weaker than my right. BUT I'M ALIVE. And I just turned 40! (Way past my "expiration date")
I got my pacemaker/defibrillator two months after my stroke and everything changed for me. I felt GOOD. Alive. ON FIRE! I'd never felt that good before and I still do.
Has it only been a little over 5 years? Sometimes it feels like yesterday. Sometimes it feels like several life times ago. All those agonizing hours where I wondered if I'd ever be better... I've discovered how strong I am, how much my husband loves me, how many people truly care for me, and more than ever I believe every day is a gift.
Now my doctors say I'm going to get "old & wrinkly"–and I think that's fabulous!