L.I.F.E.'s lessons

So, I haven’t written my weekly column for awhile . . . and I promise I have a horrible reason for this. On the morning of July 10, I had an ischemic stroke, brought on by a cerebral venous sinus thrombosis. In other words, a blood clot formed in my brain and then it burst, spurring a few grand mal seizures. Pretty horrible, right? I was rushed by ambulance to the Neurological Intensive Care Unit at the fairly new Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, where I had a bumpy ride for two and a half weeks. I can’t really remember my stay there (which I think is a blessing, really) and I couldn’t talk, walk or move my right side during the first week in the NICU.

My life took a 180-degree turn in a just a few minutes with no strong warnings or symptoms. You know, not being able to talk or move for an extended period of time gives one an opportunity to think about life . . . and other things. Here are some of the things I thought about:

  • People are pretty much awesome. It seemed like hundreds of people contacted me to send their love, say that they were praying or thinking of me, or to send their support. Tons of Facebook and Twitter messages each day while I was in the hospital. Handfuls of cards from old and new friends, relatives, and even employers and professors. Visits from friends and family each day. Neighbors and other fellow community members praying and abstaining from food on my behalf. Some of the greatest people, without a doubt.
  • Enjoy the little things. The second week, the doctors mentioned that I would most likely need to enlist in intensive physical therapy for a three-week period, followed by a three-month period of additional therapies. However, by the end of the second week, I was able to walk really well. I think this is why: I had the same nurse each night for the second week. As I was getting bored of my hospital bed view and not sleeping well, my nurse and I would go on nightly walks. Honestly, these walks were some of the most emotionally and physically therapeutic moments while in the hospital (not to mention it came with some really attractive company!).
  • Appreciate and preserve life. On those walks with my nurse, we would pass other patients in the NICU. Most were older, but a few were younger. The majority of the younger patients could have avoided such a tragedy by wearing protective gear such as a helmet. I was so saddened to hear about their situations. As I didn’t have much to do while recovering, I watched a lot of television, including many news stations. I heard about two things: the national debt limit (which made me want to claw out my eyeballs), and young and old people dying in automobile, water-related and other accidents. When I would finally fall asleep, I had a heavy heart and would have vivid nightmares. I want to plead with YOU right now: Be smart, wear protective gear, get certified in life-saving skills such as CPR, wear your seat belt and, while this might be a bit hippie-like (thinking of our ’60s theme yesterday at the Block Party), love others.

Today I can walk (you might see me walking around campus, most likely with a fistful of food being shoved down my throat), talk (some might wish this ability had not come back) and move my right side (which has made it A LOT easier to type, believe it or not). I think of all those people that helped me, in one way or another, and the list  goes on and on. I didn’t realize that I owe much thanks to many people — perhaps you are one of them. Thank you.