From my perspective:
My kitchen floor turned into red jello and tried to suck me under.
I believed that if I could only reach the phone, I might be saved.
From my children's perspective:
Hearing the loud thump of my body hitting the kitchen floor, they came running.
They found me on the kitchen floor, having a seizure, body trembling, eyes full of fear. One held me while the other called 911.
What actually happened:
I suffered a brain aneurysm bleed which would have taken my life had I not received immediate, quality care. I was rushed to Emory University Hospital for the first of many brain surgeries. After a month in ICU, I was released to the Brian Center where I was taught to walk and talk again. With life as I knew it shattered, I often wondered if I had enough faculties left to make Life worth living.
There were some dark and confusing days. It was disconcerting knowing that other people had memories of me that I didn't have. But the worst part was when I could not remember people. Looking deep into someone eyes, I could see that they wanted me to remember them but I couldn't.
"You really don't remember me?", they would ask, confusion and hurt in their eyes.
"Honestly no, I'm really sorry. It's not personal, it's just a brain thing."
At home, I would say something and my kids would give me "the look".
"I just said something wrong, didn't I?" I would ask. Heads down. We all felt bad.
They would reluctantly tell me the truth and I would apologize. Again.
Over the years, things got better and then worse and then better again.
Surgeries were tough. I don't know why but they terrified me. My sponsor said, "It's just your Higher Power pulling you close for a hug". I finally came up with a way to deal with it. For 30 days before, I would start each day listening to 2 songs (You Raise Me Up and Amazing Grace). I allowed myself to sing, scream, cry and feel whatever I needed to feel during the songs. When the songs were over, so was the pity party. I would get up and get on with the day. And it worked! By the day the surgery came, I was ready and at peace.
Right before one of my surgeries my sponsor told me, "Allow for the possibility that this surgery might make things better." I did and they were - significantly.
There were always tears when I left my children before a surgery. We were all afraid of how much of me would come back. My son and I had a code we used so we could quickly tell how much of me had returned. We have been blessed and all of me returned, so far any way. Aneurysms are the "gift that keeps on giving" and we need to go through an invasive angiogram every few years.
I have learned to put up "bumpers" in my life, like they do for young bowlers. At work, I create "living documents", which capture all of the meeting notes, attendees, action items, etc. for each project. Before the next meeting, I "refresh my memory" by reading the document so that I know what is going on.
At home, my phone is my memory. Between email messages, notes and Google, I often "pass as normal" but every now and then, for example when I'm expressing excitement about a new movie, I see "the look" on my kids faces.
"Let me guess", I say, "We've already seen that movie."
"Yep", they respond.
"Did I like it?", I ask. We all laugh.
I have come to believe that, though this could be seen as a "tragedy" in that there was human suffering for both my family and myself, the event brought with it so many gifts that it can also be seen as a "Strange Blessing", a term often used by my precious friend Sherrie. Sherrie is one of the more than 2.5 million dear ones lost to Covid in 2020/2021.
(In my heart I hear her say, "I'm not lost, doll. I'm right here, happy and body free!")
One of these gifts is an Extraordinary Journey that tested my family and I
to the very core of our being, ultimately taking us from surviving to thriving.
It revealed strength, resilience and determination that we never knew were there.
It also gifted me with new levels of compassion, caring, and insight
along with a deep heartfelt Attitude of Gratitude for each and every Breath.