Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Don't Want To Go There...But I Must

Being sick is not something easy to talk about. Sometimes revisiting the past looms like a huge, widening trap in the floor. I fear to fall into the deep pit and not get out.

However, revisiting the past is just a visit in my mind. It is the measuring of where I am today and the reason I give myself the right to share with others my story. I am not a doctor or therapist. I am an experiencer and these writings and ideas have come out of experience and pain and thinking and feeling and an urgent need to share them.

I suffered a very painful depression after a stroke caused by a neck manipulation by a chiropractor. I remember vividly the events leading up to my hospitalization due to the stroke.

I went to the cafeteeria at my job, because I felt like I was going to faint. I walked, so light-headed as if in a dream. I tried to swallow the burgers and they seemed to get stuck in my throat. So...I went to walk to the water fountain to get water and then realized I was swaying from side to side and might fall. I gulped the water down and sat...closing my right eye. I didn't realize it then, but I was experiencing a vertigo caused by a vetebral artery dissection which was limiting the bloodflow to my brain. A friend in the cafeteeria escorted me to the nurse's office in the high school where we work and THANK G-D. He took my blood pressure - sky high and then an ambulance came.

Fast forward. I was diagnosed with a Wallenberg Syndrome and a Horner's. They put me on blood thinner. Two weeks on IV... many tests. Transfer to rehab for vestibular therapy (balance therapy) swallowing problems...felt like I was choking...wearing a neck brace as if I had been in an auto accident. I blocked out all my fear by eating. "You must eat to get better", the nutritionist said. "Your chiropractor almost killed you", the doctor reported. I gasped. However, I was focusing on walking again and tried to block everything else out. I thought of Marcel Marceau and all the times he led us in a simple walk around in a circle. I thought of all my dance training and how important it is to have a straight back. I was fascinated to learn to walk again...like a child. The physical therapists praised me for all my efforts.

When I returned to work, I had gained over 50 lbs. I guess sitting in a wheelchair, then using a walker and finally a cane didn't help me to keep my figure. So...now I had a reality check that I struggled to endure...heavy and slow as molasses, I returned among hugs and pitying eyes. It was so hard to bear. I was there physically, but my mind was not. I couldn't concentrate. I couldn't walk fast around the halls like I used to. I couldn't accept my fate. I felt that my life was a mess. I was a mess physically and emotionally. I was not ready to be back. I pulled the covers of denial over my head and refused to see, but others eyes saw for me.

I suffered a clinical depression and ended up in a psychiatric hospital.

There is so much to write, but what I want to say is this... Acceptance is the key to being where we are at the present moment, I believe. It is not forever. It may feel like forever, because emotions lack logic perhaps. Finding joy is a key to enduring life when it feels too hard to bear. I learned who can be there and who cannot handle another's deep suffering. I learned who is wise. I learned to be wise myself. I learned to pray, really pray. I learned that I was in my own way for some healing to take place. I learned to be patient and to be my own best friend. It is not simple to find answers, but all I can say to everyone who is in great pain physically, emotionally or both...peace is possible...joy is possible...acceptance is the first step. This is happening and once you get past realizing you cannot go back to the past- you will begin to heal emotionally and spiritually. I know. I tried to go back to the past.

You may not know that the future has great gifts as hard as that may be to believe. I have a greater understanding of life now due to my stroke and depression. However, if I was given the choice ahead of time..."Would you suffer to then attain great knowledge of life?" I think I would probably have said..."NO!" But, then again...maybe not.

1 comment:

Wanderer62 said...

Hi Nancy,

Thanks again for sharing this hard part of your life. I know it helps me to hear your story. I kind of think that this is what you should be writing about in detail, if not here, then for later publication. Just a thought.

Kate