CH. 2 | The Event

The Event- night of February 25, 2018

In order to fully understand the cause of the stroke, I need to be transparent about what was going on in my life at that time. First of all, I have high blood pressure and I had a very demanding job. I was traveling all over the U.S. and China selling to major retailers. It was demanding in every way- psychically, mentally and in the amount of time and effort needed to be successful. I worked in all time zones throughout each day and night, as there were customers across the U.S. who needed service and the overnight work and communicating that went on with our China office to keep everything moving. The month leading up to the stroke had been unbelievably stressful. One of my major customers dropped a ton of our business less than 48 hours after a meeting, in which they had mentioned nothing to me at the time. That week, I had also broken up with my fiancé, which was extremely hard to do.  I suppose I didn’t realize how stressed I was, and then that weekend I was finishing up one of those long weekends of celebrating a good friend’s birthday. You know that friend who celebrates all month long?? We had spent all day Saturday at the outdoor mall shopping and lunching since it was so warm out. I think it got to 42 degrees that day, and many of the stores propped their windows open to cool down the store. (Remember – this is Chicago, so that’s considered warm in February!) I can recall being hot all day. That Sunday morning and afternoon was fairly usual prepping for work and having some quiet time with my little Bella-boo. We even took a walk without coats. That evening I was on the phone with one of my friend Terri, who is only in Chicago in the fair weather. It’s strange but I was still hot. We were talking around 10:00 and she asked if I was, ok? I said, “Yes, I think so. I’m just hot.” Then I felt like my lip was going numb, so I told her. She immediately told me to call 911 and said she would call back in 5 minutes to make sure I did!  We hung up and I thought I’d get a drink of water. I tried to stand but my leg was numb, and I instantly fell back into the chair. I called 911- I blurted out my address and the code to get in. I could feel this overwhelming tiredness and heaviness. My body was so heavy, I fell from the chair straight to the floor. I was out cold. (Terri and I)



As they rolled me down the front hallway and outside, I woke slightly enough to hear my neighbor, Lynn, come up and pat me on the shoulder- she assured me she would take care of Boo. I glanced back at the front door and saw Bella’s sweet face sitting inside the door, then I was gone. I went totally out and really only woke up for a short time in the ICU several hours later. When I woke for a few minutes, I wasn’t really aware and my body was just limp, not moving at all. Wherever I was put in bed, that was where I stayed. I was aware enough to realize there were two people in the room with me. I recognized my sister, but not the other little lady who was dressed quite hip. I found out a few months later that the lady in the room with me that night was my neighbor Karen, who I barely knew. When she saw the ambulance at my house, she knew I would be alone so she followed it to the hospital, went in and sat with me until my sister arrived. Really amazing, since we were just those types of neighbors that drive-by and wave. This was one of many signs that I was being looked after, and cared for, even in this time of crisis.

The next five days that followed I was pretty heavily sedated and not really talking, or if I was, it didn’t sound like the English language. In my mind I was communicating what I wanted to say, but it wasn’t coming out that way. A few close friends, my sister and my mother all came by during those initial days. Then after 6 days, I was told I was being transferred to Marion Joy (MJ). I had no idea what they were talking about, and frankly I thought I was going to meet 2 people named Marion and Joy. Luckily for me, it is an excellent rehabilitation facility about 25 minutes from where I lived in Naperville. Later that night my friend Anna called to see if I needed anything and I said, “Bella, I need to see Bella.”

The next morning when I awoke, the room was being packed up and I was quickly buckled into a stretcher and wheeled down to the back of the hospital where the ambulance was waiting. I was feeling very anxious and didn’t even realize what had happened, or that my left side wasn’t even working, as at that time they were basically keeping me comfortable and calm until they could move me to this new facility. Just as we approached the ambulance, Anna jumped out of her car and placed Bella on my lap. The Ambulance driver said rather loudly, “No she can’t go with her, really lady, I’ll lose my job”!  And Anna, in the only way Anna can do it, said, “it’s no problem, we’ll follow behind you. Of course, Anna would not take “No” for an answer, and so Boo was placed comfortably on my stomach and went along for the ride. My heart and soul could feel her warm little body and the comfort this brought me is indescribable. We laid quietly all the way to the entrance of the new hospital (MJ) and when we entered the grounds the ambulance driver pulled over and Anna grabbed Boo so we could go the rest of the way.

Recently when I went back to MJ for therapy I drove past the entrance where we stopped to have Boo moved out of the ambulance. Right there in the exact location of moving Boo, is a sign that says, Peace be with you. Unbelievable right? Really, unreal….

Seems hard to imagine all the signs have been around me and only now I remember them. I think in those early moments of my recovery my mind and body were working so hard, I just couldn’t see them. Thankfully, I’ve had this time to revisit and to tell my story and I’m feeling very fortunate to be able to share all this, especially the warm loving moments like the ambulance ride with Boo.

Sixty-five more days yet to come of therapy and the tough realization of what had actually happened. Yet, there were meaningful precious moments of hope, progress, and a glimpse of light pushing me onward to walk out 65 days later with a cane.  Stay tuned there’s lots more to share!