Thursday, November 29, 2007

What a difference two years makes...

this is my story.

Two years ago today I worked late at Magic Scraps. I was at the office alone. Then I drove home. Our pilot light at home had blown out and it was the first cold day of the season. So when I got there Matt had just figured it out & was getting ready to go up in the attic to fix it. He met me at my car and was telling me about it. I sat on the porch for a minute (I had been getting out of breath a lot) on the way in the house and he went inside.

For some miraculous reason he turned around to tell me one more thing and that was it. It didn't make any sense, it felt like someone was pouring a glass of warm water over my head. I felt the warm sensation "pour over" the left side of my body and everything relaxed. I started to fall. Matt looked at me and asked what was wrong. I told him I didn't know and I kept slumping over. He said - "get up, you're scaring me" and I said "I CAN'T, I'M SCARING ME" & I told him he needed to "make the call". He ran in & grabbed his phone. While he went in the house I did something stupid. I tried to catch myself from falling all the way to the ground. I threw my body forward and grabbed onto our porch railing to catch me which completely twisted my body.

Matt came out and kept asking me if my leg hurt. I was crumpled in a lump on the porch at that point, but I couldn't feel anything. I couldn't move either, but I was strangely calm and detatched. When the paramedics came they asked about my leg too...I felt nothing. Then they unfolded me. That little stunt of trying to catch myself didn't work out so well. I dislocated my ankle & my knee & tore my mcl. My foot was snapped backwards and my knee was twisted in at a crazy angle. It was in the ambulance that I heard it for the first time - "you've had a stroke". That's why I couldn't feel my leg.

If I had stayed an extra 30 minutes at work I would've been alone & would've died. If it had happened behind the wheel I would've died. They told me I had about a 5 minute window and if Matt hadn't been there talking to me when it happened I probably would have been dead by the time he came back down from the attic.

It was the worst day of my life. And the beginning of it.

I had been getting sicker & sicker for a long time. The reason I quit banking in the first place and started teaching scrapbooking in the first place was because I was diagnosed with a serious heart condition. I was diagnosed when I was 28, 2 months before I got married and they told me if they hadn't have caught it I wouldn't have made it past 30. When I collapsed from severe CHF at 32 they said I wouldn't have made it past 35. When I had the stroke at 34 they said it was a miracle I made it at all.

Two months later I got my pacemaker and everything changed for me. I feel GOOD. Alive. I've never felt this good before.

I did so much physical therapy. At first I was in braces from my foot up to my hip and using a walker every day (that felt like forever). Then I had a bad limp. Now, unless you really watch me you wouldn't know the difference. I'm still slow on stairs & my leg drags when I'm tired. I still can't feel most of my left leg below the knee. I have difficulty moving my toes. And sometimes I still get agonizing leg cramps because my left leg is still so much weaker than my right. BUT I'M ALIVE.

I fought to teach scrapbooking again even more, I was so fiercely rededicated to telling women to tell their own story. I came so close to not having my own voice anymore. The day I had my pacemaker surgery, Advantus told us they were closing Magic Scraps. I stayed on through the rest of the teaching calendar (through most of the year) then went with Imagination Project who decided to exit scrapbooking within six months of hiring me. Then I joined Luxe...where I feel like I'm "home". I'm doing more than ever & traveling more than ever because I CAN. It feels good.

Has it only been 2 years? Sometimes it feels like yesterday. Sometimes it feels like several lifetimes ago. All those agonizing hours where I wondered if I'd ever be better? I've discovered how strong I am, how much Matt loves me, how many people truly care for me, and more than ever I believe every day is a gift. I have to say a few important thank my husband Matt, who built me a handicap ramp by hand while I was in the hospital so I could come home - and who destroyed it with such passion when I didn't need it any more. He cared for me, bathed me - did everything when I could not for myself. He was my rock, my angel, my everything. Thanks to my family who were so scared for me and took turns releiving Matt and doing everything from taking me to the doctor to just keeping me company. Also a very special thanks to my friend & inspiration Teresa Collins, I couldn't have gotten through my recovery mentally without her counsel & support.

Now my doctors say I'm going to get "old & wrinkly" - and I think that's fabulous.


Blogger Jan Scholl said...

10 years ago this month, I started down a dark path which lasted two years, multiple hospitalizations, a low weight of 81 pounds and a horrific surgery. I am not 100% but anything is better than zero. I am a different person today, less trusting and more in tune to me and I learned to say no to others for the first time in my life. My greatest joy was being able to run down the street again-slower than before-but I made it. The miracle isnt that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start. Cheers to us-alive and kicking.

1:53 AM  
Blogger Angela said...

Emily! You are such an inspiring person :) I am really bad about leaving comments but I read your blog lots and lots :) Thanks for sharing your story, it is so touching. (By the way, I still have that thing I was going to send you like...8 months ago :) I will work on getting it to you since I have your address now!) Talk to you soon!

Angie #2

5:02 PM  
Blogger Angie said...

You know, I never told you how scared I was when you called me from the hospital and told me about the stroke. You have always been the sister I never had, and I got off the phone and sobbed to Steve. I can't tell you how proud I was of how you never gave up and kept going, even when you were tired and down. You have overcome so many obstacles in your life and I can't tell you how much I look up to you and admire you. You are the best- and I am so glad we have never let go of our friendship. You are my rock. :-)

Love ya, chica!

9:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are a true inspiration and the kind of person I wish I could be more like!

11:13 PM  
Blogger Gaby said...

Thanks for sharing your story, you're an inspiring person!


9:31 PM  

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