I Decided To Live
My pupils were fixed and dilated in the ER. That means my brain stem functions were starting to shut down that control things like my heartbeat and respiration. I was 6 months pregnant and had a severe cerebral hemorrhage. I was 35.
But that Valentine’s Day in 1999 was not my day to die. A gifted neurosurgeon drilled a hole in my skull, then used a saw to cut a small disk out so he could clean up the part of my brain that was bleeding and if left unchecked, would have surely ended my life. My baby wouldn’t have survived, either. They say miracles happen every day.
I remained paralyzed on my left side, but I was ALIVE. The effects on my cognition and personality were much less pronounced than the physical issues.
I gave birth in the usual way 7 weeks later to a healthy, 5 lb. 6 oz. boy. Another miracle.
My firstborn son was not quite 2 years old when all of this happened. He missed his Mom after she disappeared one day to stay hospitalized for three months.
I was extremely fortunate to recover enough function to be able to walk with a cane and a brace on my leg. I learned how to take care of myself during a 6 week stay in a rehab hospital.
I expected life to return to “normal” when I was discharged from the hospitals, but it never did.
I was faced with having to figure out how to be a mother for my newborn and 2 year old sons with a disability. I became depressed, but was too stubborn to succumb to that for more than a year.
I was motivated every day by those babies to get up and get on with it. It was really hard, but there weren’t many options.
With the awareness I had cheated death, I decided I wanted to be fully alive with gratitude for each day I was given to be with my family and enjoy my life.
As part of my treatment for depression I started adaptive horseback riding lessons in 2000. Since then, I have won 19 ribbons at the horse shows I began competing in in 2014.
I didn’t let being disabled kill my sense of wanderlust. It was still a big world, and I was determined to continue to see what I could. I’ve been on safari in Kenya, zip lining in Costa Rica, and cruised the Rhine River to name a few trips I was lucky enough to have the means and the energy to do.
I had hoped my husband would share my enthusiasm for being alive with me into old age, but he couldn’t do it. He moved out in 2015.
That was another challenge, but certainly an easier one than having a stroke while I was pregnant. I have been moving on slowly.
None of us know when we are going to die. My plan is to be as alive as possible until that day comes.