Fifteen years ago today, my fiancée and I walked into a hospital in Northern California. I was going to undergo an ascending to descending aortic bypass that faithful morning. Little did I know, as I took those last steps outside before the sun had risen, that those would be the last steps I would ever take on my own.
The following day, when I awoke in the CVICU and tried to stand – I immediately fell to my knees. That was how I would first learn that something had went wrong, a few days later I would learn that I had survived an ischemic stroke to my spinal cord.
At first, I couldn’t run, walk or even stand. I was unable to turn myself in my bed, control my own bladder and I needed help feeding myself.
Those early days were hard, full of unanswered questions, uncertainty and fear.
During the day, I remained positive and all those who were around me were radiating positive vibes. No one talked about the elephant in the room, but in the darkness of many midnight hours, I laid awake in my hospital bed, uncertain about my future.
I prayed a lot. I told God that I was scared. I told Him that I didn’t know what had happened to me. But most of all, I wanted to go home and in the darkest corner of my mind I feared that I would never be home again with my cat Laptop and the life that I had planned to spend with my fiancée was now just a fading dream.
Things have changed so much in fifteen years.
As I reflect upon how far I have come in the past fifteen years, I thank God for all that I have overcame.
I still cannot run, but I can walk fast – but when I do I am at a higher risk of falling.
I can walk with a rollator.
I can stand without holding onto anything for anywhere from a few seconds to a minute.
I not only turn myself in my bed, but I kick off the blankets at night and sometimes even kick my wife.
I do not have a hundred percent control of my bladder – yet, but accidents are rare enough that I have ditched the adult diapers.
And I can certainly feed myself all on my own these days – and I have the waistline to prove it.
The passage of time.
Fifteen years can sound like a long time when you are looking ahead, but when you look back fifteen years goes by as quickly as you can blink an eye.
I still cannot walk without a mobility device, but I still believe there may be a day that I will. Granted, I may not be able to walk across town like I did before my ischemic stroke to my spinal cord, but even a few steps would be a blessing.
And if I don’t walk again….
I am thankful to God for the recovery I have experienced so far.
I am not giving up! I am not going to settle here. I am going to keep pushing myself. My goals has always been to reach the best possible recovery for me. I may be there and I may not be there, but I will not know unless I keep trying.
My advice for anyone else overcoming an injury
Simply put, I have learned that recovery is a journey, not a destination. Never stop moving forward. Only you can determine how far you bounce back from any setback!