I am a miracle.
Today marked 5 months since my stroke. In some ways, I feel like this is ancient history. At the same time, I think, “Wow. Only 5 months ago?”
Many of you prayed for me, and some continue doing so. I am grateful for all of you. More than a few times, people called me a miracle. According to the American College of Cardiology, strokes account for 1 of 20 deaths in the United States. Although the number of stroke-related deaths has declined, it has become a leading cause of long-term disability. Do I feel like a miracle? Yeah – I think I do. In so many ways.
So what’s going on with me at the 5-month mark? From a physical standpoint, you’d never guess I had a stroke. I have no drooping in my face. On Aug 19, I had no left-side peripheral vision. Today, I have a full range of vision on both sides. At 1 month, x-rays showed NO sign of a stroke behind my eyes.
The day of my stroke, my left hand was useless. Although I could move it some, I couldn’t grasp anything with it. Within about 10 days, I had full use of my hand back, although it took probably an additional week or two before I could type without thinking about it. By the time I followed up with my primary care physician about 10 days after the stroke, he could tell no difference between the strength in my hands.
Apparently, all of the damage done by the stroke occurred in my temporal lobe – the place of cognitive skills and memory. As far as I know, my memory isn’t much worse than it was before the stroke. Problem solving and processing information? Honestly, my brain doesn’t work right all of the time. As my friend, Shad Ramsey, said to me one day, “At least now you have an excuse.” A sense of humor is always good.
In all seriousness, I have dead brain cells. But the real miracle is how God made our brains. When anything destroys brain cells, those surrounding that area automatically start retraining, learning to take on the functions of the now deceased ones. No one can tell me God doesn’t exist. That level of complexity can’t be by chance. So, in my case, the stroke left damage, but I can still think. I can still reason and process information. It may take me longer, and when I’m tired, it takes longer than this new normal even. Those who know me extremely well might notice some changes. For me, the changes in my mind seldom hide. My brain works differently now – then again, it sort of always has been that way.
I don’t expect a miraculous resurrection of those cells. Call it not having faith if you want, but I think it’s more miraculous that I can still function almost as well as before without them. I’m learning a new normal, and I am almost comfortable there. Most of all, I’ve learned to release stress better. My diet and exercise improved. I’m down about 20 pounds since August, my blood sugar and blood pressure are under control, and I feel better with more energy overall. Yes, I’m on some meds, but continuing a healthy lifestyle so I can decrease or maybe even get off them. That’s my goal.
Yes, there most likely will be a book coming from this experience. I’m not the super woman I never wanted to be in the first place. My feet are made of clay, and I am not indestructible. I have limits.
I am a miracle. And I am incredibly thankful and blessed.