By Suse*

“Moderation in all things,” my mother told me. So, like the obedient daughter I was, I did the exact opposite and finally paid the inevitable price of stroking out. Why are mothers always right? Here’s my story on experiencing a stroke; I hope you can learn a few things from it and at the very least, have the odd giggle (good). I’m a bit irreverent (bad) and sometimes controlling, competitive and stubborn (ugly), but I’m working on these flaws.

So, why did this happen? I worked far too hard and long on a daily basis, and to reward myself I played a bit too hard as well (I blame the “demon rum”). Truly, I thought I was invincible, yet, the signs were there: very high blood pressure, elevated stress levels, not enough sleep and I rarely ate properly. I laughed about these things (good?), I thought I had all the answers (bad), and then the “ugly” took me down, literally.

What is a stroke? Simply put, it happens when blood flow to part of the brain stops. I had two back-to-back extensive ones (left and back side of my brain) late on a Sunday night when I was on my way to bed. I suddenly had trouble focusing and speaking and I was acting confused, upset and angry. Then I passed out and my partner called 911. I was rushed by ambulance to Sunnybrook Emergency and arrived just in time to receive TPA medication (a tissue plasminogen activator). This is a clot-busting drug that saved me from paralysis and possibly death.

Spending five long days and nights, semi-conscious, hooked up to a myriad of tubes and monitors, all I can remember is that it was touch and go. My loving family was devastated and they took turns sleeping on the floor next to me and advocating for me with the medical staff. My poor mother was beside herself and I was sure I was going to get a spanking.  Instead, she’s grounded me for a year and continues to feed me soup.

What you might like to know:

  • The wake-up call – It’s time to take good care of YOU! If you don’t, it’s a slippery slide into what can become a perilous habit of consistently helping only others and not taking care of yourself. You need and deserve your best life.
  • Hope – I’ve been blessed with an abundance of medical miracles (according to my excellent doctors, nurses and hospital staff). I was given a second chance at life to recover (almost fully) and behave myself. Now, I have hope.
  • Faith – I thought I was a good girl on my way to “heaven.” Apparently, I had some bad habits to atone for and lessons to learn.
  • Love – when you don’t have it, go and get it. You deserve to be loved and to love in return. Actions and words of love, compassion and kindness will strengthen your heart, body and soul.

So, join me in old age and let’s live as long as we can!

*The writer has asked CCRA News not to include her last name.