I suffered a double-pontine stroke and in minutes became completely and totally paralyzed. I could not walk, talk, move a muscle. I could not even blink – all I could do was think. Locked-in and locked-out from all that I knew, I was transformed from confident and fit to frightened and fearful.
My journey of survival and recovery began.
During those long lonely hours, I never stopped hoping, believing that I would have a miracle, and be restored to life. I believed, or maybe just hoped – at least I prayed – that I would once again be a wife, a mother to my two toddlers. The miracle did occur. It may have been the slowest miracle on the planet, but a miracle – a real-life miracle – it was. I know it, and I am deeply grateful for it.
Now, today, twenty-one years later, my life is restored, yet revised. Yes, I am, again, a healthy woman. I am again a wife, and a mother. This time around, however, I have dedicated my new life after recovery to advocating for others and helping them recover.
I once lived in a five-bedroom home in an exclusive neighborhood. I had it all. I knew “the cost of everything and the value of nothing. [Oscar Wilde]” Now, I know the value of life, and I am profoundly grateful for each moment I live. Once unable to stand, I now stand for life. Once unable to speak; I now speak for others. I dedicate my life as a human service worker, speaker, and author to helping others overcome the paralysis that keeps them from moving to their next level of success.
How do I know they even want my help? Who wants to live? Who wants to die? I cannot know. All I can do is ask. And if they are unable to answer, I will simply be there for them and take the risk that my help, my presence is wanted. It is, after all, that willing to risk that sets us, and them apart from the timid souls who will not. And therein lies the challenge and the goal.
“…The greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing. He cannot learn, feel, grow, change or love. He cannot live.” ~ William Arthur Ward.
I am often asked by family members of a stroke survivor how they can change them, and make the survivor do the necessary physical therapy at home. My response is always you can’t – only they can. All you can do is hope and pray that they will find the desire and strength from within to recover. All you can do is be there for them. You risk rejection – you also risk success! Change takes courage and risk – so does restoration.