If I knew then what I know now ...
I was a happy, healthy man who had never been sick a day in his life. Then came THE STROKE two years ago. THE STROKE has left me a shell of my former self and I am still trying to get over the effects of it.
I was with my wife on a cruise to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, when it hit. It was as if someone hit me right in back of the head with a hammer. I had the world's worst headache. That was the last thing I remember. When I woke up, I was surprised to find myself in a hospital bed, plugged in to all sorts of machinery, a drip in my arm, staring up at the ceiling.
My wife's worried face loomed over me. When I tried to ask her what was going on, I was surprised to discover that I couldn't speak. It truly scared me.
That was when the doctor came in and explained to me that I had suffered a stroke. It was a very bad one. It had affected my right side (meaning the stroke had occurred somewhere on the left side of the brain; blood flow had suddenly been interrupted due to a blood clot and the clot went to my brain, thus causing the stroke): I couldn't move my arm or my leg. I couldn't talk.
I was at the mercy of my body. It was as if I had become a prisoner seemingly overnight.
I was in the hospital for several weeks. After that I went to the rehab center, where I underwent several months of grueling physical, speech, and occupational therapies, to try to get me back on my feet.
I was in Mexico longer than I had planned to be. While I was there, I'd learned enough basic Spanish to communicate with the locals, but it wasn't easy.
Two months later, I returned home (with my wife in tow, of course) back to the States, where I was taken to my doctor; he updated my medical history and immediately put me on a diet. I was no longer to eat fatty foods or foods high in carbohydrates or salt. I had to undergo a regimen of continuing therapy and exercise. He was sorry to learn of my stroke, but not half as sorry as I was.
I was only 45. People who usually suffered strokes were in their older years (50+); I was, more or less, a kid. I became depressed, despondent: I was ready to give up on life. Then the doctor suggested that I and my wife (now my caregiver) join a stroke support group that met every Wednesday at the hospital nearest to where we lived.
I was surprised to learn that not only old people had strokes. People of any age could be felled by a stroke, even infants and children. Strokes could be mild or severe. It was obvious to others that I had a severe stroke. I could talk, but it sounded like my mouth was full of cotton and my paralyzed arm dangled loosely at my side: I still couldn't move my hand or my fingers and it felt as if I had a 500--pound weight attached. I wore a brace on my affected leg and walked with a cane in my opposite hand for stability. My face sagged noticably on the affected side.
I looked like a sick old man.
When I had first seen myself in the mirror, I cried. Oh, how I CRIED.
Flash forward two years to the present day:
I am still unable to move my right arm and hand, but my speech has become less garbled. I still cannot move the right side of my face, but at least I can smile again: it's just a little crooked is all. The brace still remains on my leg: I will need it for the rest of my life. The cane will be a part of me too when up. But the most important thing is this: I am ALIVE. I am as good as I ever will be. I survived a major stroke, which is truly a miracle: many others do NOT. I might not be as I was before I got sick, but I AM living proof of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger".
I am now drawing disability. I can no longer work. It was a long, hard fight, but I finally was approved one month ago, which is a relatively short time; most people when applying have to wait five years or more for approval ... that is, IF they get approved. My wife remains as my caretaker; she has stayed by my side, through thick and thin, which I grately appreciate.
She and I also attend church every week, which is something that we have really never done before (unless it was on a holiday like Christmas or Easter). We have both found a new hope in God because it was GOD, Himself, who brought me (and Lucy) through the fire and for the first time in our lives we feel at peace. God got us through a very bad time in our life and we have learned that He WILL make a way if we just lean on Him.
Well, I am going to go. Up way too early; have to get some sleep. I will write in here again one day to let you know how I (or Lucy) are faring. Until then, this is Doran McGillicuddy signing off! Take care and may God bless you as much as He's blessed Lucy and myself!
~To be continued.~