I had a fortunate stroke. I know that seems like an oxymoron, but despite how completely awful it is to have had a stroke at my age, it could have been so much worse.
To begin with, my trip to Kansas City for a family wedding almost didn't happen. I was waiting on my tax refund, not really sure it would come through in time for me to purchase the airline tickets. Lucky for me it did, and we were in Kansas when I had my stroke. Otherwise, it would have been my children's weekend with their father. I would have been home all alone when I had my stroke. My children would have returned from their father's house that morning and found me. Instead, I had my stroke at my brother's home, in front of my sister-in-law, who happens to be an ICU nurse. To go one step further, if I'd had my stroke 8 hours later, or booked the earlier return flight, I would have had my stroke on the plane, sitting next to my kids.
My sister-in-law also happens to work for the University of Kansas Hospital which is where she took me that morning. The University of Kansas hospital has a stroke center - not something found at every hospital.They also had an open bed in their inpatient rehabilitation facility, also a good piece of luck.
I was in the hospital in Kansas City, far away from my home in Pennsylvania for almost the entire month of March. I had just completed a modification on my current mortgage, and when you do a mortgage modification or a refinance, your next mortgage payment is not generally due for 60 days - so the entire month of March I did not owe a mortgage payment.
When I left my children that morning on March 5th I was still only mildly impaired. My leg was a little wobbly but I was walking. I could move my arm and my hand, they both just felt a little numb. My speech was mildly slurred but not very garbled and I was understandable. When I returned to them on April 2nd I wasn't far away from that point. I could walk - slowly, but I could do it. I can move my arm a bit and some of my fingers. My speech is relatively clear and only gets slightly mushy when I'm tired. While it was pure torture being away from my children for twenty-eight days, the truth is they miss the worst of it. They didn't get to see me wheelchair-bound, unable to walk, talking like my mouth was full of marbles, waking every morning with my hand and arm curled into my chest and having to watch my therapist spend an hour working to stretch it out. They didn't have to watch me hooked to a harness, lurching and stumbling across a room as I tried to learn to walk again.They didn't see me crying with frustration as my limbs spasmed uncontrollably. They didn't have to watch me with a splint on my arm and a cup on my hand to keep my fingers from curling in and a boot on my foot to keep my foot from drooping. They didn't see me at my worst and I'm glad they were spared that.
A few days into my hospitalization I felt up to updating my status on Facebook so that my friends knew what was going on. A long time friend who I lost touch with a few years back - one who is almost never on Facebook - suddenly decided to check on her account. She saw my posting and reached out to me through Facebook Messenger to let me know she was thinking about me. Before I left to go to Kansas we had made a decision at work that we were going to hire another person in the department to do my job as well since our department has doubled in size and it's becoming too much for me to do alone. This particular old friend of mine used to work with me 10 years ago at another company. I remarked to her that it was a shame she wasn't looking for a job right now because we had an opening in my department and I could think of no one I would rather see taking care of my department in my absence than her. Guess who was - luckily for us - recently laid off? My company hired her 2 weeks ago and she's doing a phenomenal job. They all love her and I don't feel the need to rush through my recovery just to get back to work because I know they're in good hands.
So yes, having a stroke was a very unfortunate thing, but it honestly couldn't have happened at a better time. I'd love to go back and never have had it in the first place, but it all could have shaken out so much worse.I am a very, very grateful woman.
Always look for the plus-side, people. And always appreciate the fate that you didn't draw.