[past & present] blessings, miracles and the two-year mark

this post has been a long time coming. i've been thinking about writing it ever since i started this blog a year and a half ago, but because i'm terrible at posting consistently,  i never got around to it. i choose to write it now, February 21, 2013, because today marks two years to the day since i had my stroke and this new era of my life started. (an occasion my kind classmates didn't forget at school today!)

my "birthday" surprises

in some ways, it feels like it has been far shorter than two years. in most ways, though, it feels like it has been much longer. after all, a lot has happened! 

i rehabbed in Tucson for nearly a year, got engaged, moved back to the Valley, got married, started a new job and started school.

a few of my classmates from my occupational therapy assistant program

i went from not being able to move my right side at all, to only needing some assistance, to being independent with the help of a few devices.

my hair started as a buzz, made it to the fauxhawk stage and is now past my ears.

and i went from having constant anxiety to…well, i guess some things never change!

not a day goes by that i don't think about February 21, 2011, and all that has transpired since, and not a day goes by that i don't think about the many blessings and miracles that God has given me during that time. so that i can remember them in the future, and so you can get an idea of why i feel such gratitude today, i want to share just a fraction of these blessings with you.

in no particular order:

  • i'm alive! this is especially awesome considering somewhere around 37 percent of hemorrhagic strokes result in death within 30 days. yikes.
  • my stroke hit when i was sitting down. i wasn't driving -- which i was planning on doing less than two hours from that time. i wasn't on the lift. i wasn't on my snowboard.
  • there were people nearby to run for help. ski patrol was close and came to my aid quickly.
  • i was somewhat calm on the ambulance ride to the hospital. 
  • Troy and my sister Alicia both told me they felt an undeniable, calm reassurance that everything would be ok. i needed to hear that.
  • Troy was with me and he gave me a blessing.
  • my parents did a lot of research, made a lot of calls and fought to get me transferred down to Tucson to get me better care.
  • i don't remember much of Flagstaff. that, i think, is a major blessing.
  • one of the top neurosurgeons in the state accepted my case. my surgery went exactly as planned and even ended early.
  • i was so calm right before i was wheeled back for surgery. so unlike me!
  • i had no infections, side effects or complications from any medication, surgery or treatment.
  • i had no seizures whatsoever. this is very rare and still surprises my neurosurgeon.
  • i can use my hand very well. i was told this would never happen.
  • the tumor i had was the "best" one possible. all of it was removed in surgery and it has not grown back (knock on wood!).
  • i had unwittingly been prepared for handling the loss of function on one side of my body. between breaking both legs and my left wrist, i was already pretty adept at finding new ways to accomplish daily tasks.
  • the stroke itself is a blessing. i had no other symptoms of a brain tumor, so it may have kept growing and could have wreaked more havoc than it did.
  • the stroke did not affect my understanding or use of language. this is very common in left-sided strokes.
  • i lost no cognitive ability, either (that i know of!). even though my body doesn't work as well as i would like, i have my mind -- and i would never want it the other way around.
  • my nurses and CNAs were amazing. one nurse in particular was so influential in my recovery that i now consider her my sister.
  • before everything happened, my parents and my sister Angela had already studied the concept of neuroplasticity. they were able to share their knowledge with me and ultimately helped me regain more muscle function than would have been possible without it.
  • my grandfather generously gave me enough money to help cover thousands and thousands of dollars in medical bills.
  • i got to spend a lot of time with my family in Tucson. it turned out to be the last time i would do that before getting married.
  • there were many, many instances when i was blessed with extra faith, extra endurance, extra strength, extra hope and extra peace. these moments, though small, carried me through. and still do.

and the biggest blessing of all

i have amazing relationships that have been -- and continue to be -- such a support to me: my loving and positive family; my selfless and understanding husband who helps me keep my chin up; my thoughtful and encouraging friends;  church members; coworkers; classmates; and on and on and on.

this is just a small list of blessings and miracles. i know there are MANY i am forgetting, and even more that i don't even recognize at this point. even though these two years have been crazy hard, it is easy for me to recognize how perfectly orchestrated it has all been. i see God's hand in my life, and i have felt the peace and comfort that comes only through Jesus Christ.

if you didn't believe in miracles before reading this, i hope you do now. :]