I’m only 57. I could have believed a forecast of cloudy-and-a-chance-of-stroke a decade into my future. But not THIS year. Not when I’m too young for Medicare. Not with a career peaking and lots of travel planned—FINALLY enjoying life my way.
The night of December 6th, I lay in bed after a quick trip to Los Angeles for a client Christmas party. Suddenly my head exploded with the biggest headache of my life. I rolled off the bed and fell to my knees. I saw golden ribbons floating from the ceiling.
My son responded to my call quickly, half-carried me to his car, and the hospital was only five minutes away. Is that why I survived this life-threatening stroke with only mild deficits?
They life-flighted me to Omaha and Clarkson hospital, where I had access to two of the nation’s six experts in subarachnoid hemorrhages (brain bleeds). I stayed for two weeks, much of that time with a tube hanging from a hole drilled in my skull.
One-third of victims of this type of stroke die before leaving home. Another third end up in nursing homes. The last third often have difficult roads to recovery. In my case, doctors couldn’t find a cause or site of the bleed, and odds of a repeat are in the “single digits.”
So, I’m the lucky one. I’m still dealing with headaches, fatigue and wooziness. But I’m working, going out with friends, doing housework and planning a road trip.
Did I do anything to nudge my luck? Doctors can’t say for sure, but several factors can’t have hurt and probably increased my comfort.
The piercing pain was incessant for two weeks, so I focused on breathing, relaxing and distracting myself with memories of a patch of blue sky beyond the tops of tall pine trees along a waterfall trail in the Canadian Rockies.
I listened and followed instructions to the letter. I had family with me every day, overseeing my care, making me comfortable and making me smile.
I focused some of my energy on being kind to my own caregivers. Maybe that was it. I took my mind off of myself.
I guess I’ll never know. Maybe it was just dumb luck. But I like thinking I walked that path as my own hero, intentionally looking for the silver lining in those cloudy days of stroke.
Kindra Foster is an award-winning senior writer/editor who has worked many years with a broad array of businesses. She’s also an "every-person's" travel writer, usually traversing the U.S. and Canada solo, camping in the back of a Jeep, collecting memories of America's beautiful and interesting places, and introducing readers to the hardworking people of this land.