Facing Death: One-in-a-million odds of survival anniversary

This week is my 23rd anniversary of learning to believe in miracles!

June 29th 1995, started out like any other day. Except, I remember that morning as I was showering, the waves of dizziness that swept over me and thinking, “I’ll probably feel better after I eat something, but this doesn’t seem right.” Then my left leg abruptly felt like jelly and suddenly I was feeling very strange and weak. Thoughts rang through my head, “I’ve got too much to do, and this was is not on my day planner.” I did not know what was happening; yet, I knew it was serious. I did not want to die.

Diagnosis: I had suffered a massive brain-stem stroke; Locked-in Syndrome.

During those dark, lonely and endless days in ICU, I found myself constantly bargaining with God, as Kubler-Ross describes in her famous 5 Stages of Grief model. Silently, I screamed out, “Please God, let me live, I may never be the same, but I am willing to be different.” Doctors instructed my husband to start contacting funeral homes; they advised him to purchase a burial plot, because he was told I would not live the night.

My situation was critical. My chances of survival were less than one-in-a-million.

I was faced with my mortality on more than one occasion during the 70 days in ICU, each one of those days listed in critical condition. After days and weeks in ICU, I really did not think I could go on anymore. It was my families support and my doctor’s words that I would survive and recover that gave me hope to continue. I have been to a place very few people can even imagine, and without my family, a tremendous medical team, and many caring strangers; the outcome could have been quite different. As a social worker, my personal experience of surviving the stroke enhances my empathy and understanding as I help individuals and families struggling with many of the same challenges.

I embrace this new role.