Trauma Reflection

Five years ago today at roughly 9pm at night, I suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage, the same type of stroke singer Brett Michaels had that same year. It was devastating but like with all trauma I’ve experience thus far, I just put my head down and moved forward.

It was Dec. 3, 2009, I was happily enrolled in Graduate School at the University of Missouri-Columbia. I was pursuing my masters in social work. I was entering my final month before Christmas break and before my practicum (aka: internship) that would start at the VA in January. I was on cloud nine because I had been accepted to intern at the VA Hospital in Columbia. This was a dream come true. You see, I had always wanted to work with the military population. I definitely lived under the guise, “if you can’t beat em, join em” and I felt like this was the way to join them so to speak. I had my future mapped out, or so I thought. The plan was for me to finish my masters and try to get full time employment with the VA or a hospital. Then my husband would go back to Bible college…..I had it all figured out.

Until

December 3, 2009 around 9pm…..I don’t remember much detail, I can only tell you what I remember up to a certain point.

I had been working on a grad paper. I took a break and went to lay on my bed. I had been working on that paper all day, and I was on page 16 of 20+ pages. So I went and flipped on our TV and laid down. I remember moving kinda funny and I heard this “pop” and I felt a fire like pain seep up from the base of my skull. I’d had never felt  pain like this before. It was beyond intense. I screamed for my husband as I held my head in my hands tightly……I don’t remember anything passed this point.

My husband tells me that when he came into the room, I was indeed holding my head and my eyes started to roll into the back of my head. I described the pain to him and then he called 911, while he was on the phone with 911 I started vomiting (keep in mind, I don’t remember any of this)

The ambulance arrived and Jeff told them to take me to Boone Hospital (not the University’s hospital because I had NEVER had a good experience there!!) Thank God Jeff made this decision because we would later learn Boone Hospital is the leading hospital in that area for strokes, it’s a stroke center!!

I was put into ICU for one month. In the first 24 hours, Jeff was told was the most critical that IF I had a chance of survival it would only happen after the first 24 hours. My parents were on their way from Michigan, my bio dad was also on his way from MI. In that 24 hour window my brain began to swell, to the point that Jeff was told he had 2 options:

  1. Allow the neurosurgeon to drill 2 tiny holes into the top of my skull to relieve the pressure
  2. Or not.

The neurosurgeon told Jeff that either option could kill me……..

Jeff allowed the NS to drill the holes, thus saving my life.

We were later told by a nurse that the NS literally paced the hallway outside of my room for the first 24 hours, never leaving the hospital. She said this was not typical for him. As you can imagine tons and tons of people were praying for me.

God heard their cry because I made it through the first 24 hours.

I would remain in ICU for 1 month. I don’t remember any of this time frame. The next thing I remember was being wheeled out to go home. I remember thinking “how could they release me after everything I’d been through?” I was scared. The gravity of the situation was starting to sink in. So many “what ifs” began to swirl through my head……

What if Jeff hadn’t been home?

What if I had been driving home from work when this happened? (I made an hour commute 6 days a week at Midnight, I worked 4pm to midnight), but this happened to be my day off.

What if I had gone to the other hospital?

What if what if what if???

Needless to say, I was TERRIFIED to be left alone, so I had someone with me constantly for the first 3 weeks I was home. Thank God for family!!

The stroke took my periephel  vision in my left eye and I had another brain bleed in the thalmus (this one not as severe) would take the periephel vision in my right eye. The thalamus bleed occurred about 6 weeks after I was home from the first stroke, It left me with enough vision to see to legally drive. However since I was terrified of everything, I wouldn’t start driving for 6 months after and even then had to have rehab therapy to see if I could.

So as I reflect on this day five years ago

I am first and foremost thankful to God that He spared my life. I have no idea why? I’ve since learned that people who have these types of strokes only have a  1-3% survival rate. So you can imagine my thankfulness to be alive!!

I thank God daily for putting me on this path to restored health, I fully believe He intends to repair what has been stolen from me and He’s starting that process now as I incorporate healthy lifestyle changes. I could not do any of this without Him. I give him all the glory and honor because He deserves it ALL!! I can do nothing apart from Him. He is the reason I am breathing today.So as I go forward in this life. My heart’s desire is to lift Jesus up daily in my life. That He would be seen through my daily actions.

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