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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Great Big Thank You Post

I've been meaning to do this for a while and I feel badly it took me so long to do it but I have a number of people to thank in regards to my rehabilitation.

First, my  neurologist at the University of Kansas Medical Center: Dr. Yunxia Wang, who held my hand and talked me through what was happening to my brain with compassion and calm intelligence as I layed there, scared and weeping.

KU Rehabilitation doctors Schuessler and Eickmeyer,stopped in to see me every morning, remaining positive and upbeat and and celebrating every single one of my successes. I will confess now that I nicknamed Dr. Schuessler “Dr. Dreamboat” and was secretly squealing when he asked for a copy of my book.

My speech therapist Lauren was only with me for a couple of sessions, mostly because as a theatre person I was already doing my vocal warm ups and exercising my mouth, lips, and jaw every chance I got. She still offered some practical instruction and a whole lot of positive support.

My psychologist Kevin was kindness personified. I enjoyed our visits and I appreciated his gentle guidance. I promise Kevin, I'm not trying to do it all. I am resting and I am taking care of myself - and I will never push my own health to the back burner again.

My social worker, Alli, tied up all the loose ends, routed my insurance paperwork, and if she didn't have an answer to one of my questions she made sure she found the one who did. She was professional and she was friendly and whatever they're paying her it isn't enough.

My occupational therapist, Kirsten, worked tirelessly to give me a working hand. It's not quite there yet but it is light years from where it was. Today I can move all five fingers independently. I can clench my fist and I can straighten my hand back out again. It's still very weak and it doesn't always do what I wanted to do, but without her expertise and her determination to get me as functional as possible I would not be where I am right now.

My physical therapist, Amanda, wouldn't take no for an answer. She cajoled and pushed and challenged me to always take that extra step, to try one more run on the staircase, to see if I could bend my knee just a few more times. She listen to me whine, and she smiled when I yawned. She nerded out with me over Harry Potter trivia and she laughed out loud with me when a muscle spasm caused my hand to clamp down on my own breast during a therapy session. What a memory!

My nurses and aides are too numerous to remember,  but was memorable is the way they consistently and attentively treated me with compassion and dignity. They were amazing, every single one of them.

My high school friends Sharla and Janice both made road trips to see me - bringing me food (!) and coloring books and the pleasure of their company - something I hadn't had in decades. Let's find a better excuse to get together next time ladies.

My editor at Swoon Reads, Holly West, didn't hesitate for a moment when I told her what had happened and that the revision on my next book was going to be late. She told me to get better and to make that my sole focus - she'll wait for the book. And she sent me chicken soup!

My fellow authors at the Swoon Reads division of MacMillan publishing sent me gourmet cupcakes in the hospital and loads of good wishes. They’re an awesome crew and I am fortunate to be among them.

My friends and family and neighbors have all rallied around me during this time, offering meals, trips to the grocery store, unflagging support, tremendous amounts of humor, and they’ve flooded my Facebook page with pictures of Jason Momoa and The Rock. I adore each and every one of them - they know me so well.

My brother and sister-in-law and my nieces and nephews had my back through this whole difficult adventure. They visited me in the hospital, they brought me flowers and food, they kept me company and kept my spirits up. They teased me unmercifully and that was just what I needed. They saw my frightened children safely onto a plane and checked up on them even after they got home. I can never repay everything they did for me during such a difficult time. I don't think words are enough to explain what genuinely decent and outstandingly wonderful people they all are.

Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank my kids. At the age of sixteen, my daughter had to step into some very adult shoes. She had to shepherd her autistic brother through two busy airports with a stopover between, then drive them both home two hours. She had to run a household for a month, get her brother up for school, cook meals and get laundry done - all while holding down a part-time job and three AP-level classes this semester. She texted or called me nearly every day, too. My son found time to text and call me as well, and his often hilarious observations and optimism never failed to lift my spirits. It still amazes me that these two carry my DNA. I am so tremendously grateful that I'm still here and still enjoying them.

I also want to thank all of you, readers of my blog and my books, for your support. It's been quite a journey and it's not over for me yet, not by a longshot. But I'm seeing each new day in an entirely different way now and I've got a lot of life to look forward to. I hope you'll join me in finding something to be grateful every morning that you can open your eyes.

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