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Finding the Miracle

By David Wasielewski

 

Tragedy Turned to Miracle

 

At 48 years old, with great health and a job I loved, I had a stroke. Overnight, a bilateral carotid dissection wiped out function in my right motor cortex and sensory areas of my brain. After three days in the ICU with an uncertain prognosis I woke up in the hospital unable to move or feel my left side. A mild case of left neglect increased my general disorientation as I tried to process what had happened.

 

As I regained consciousness family and friends expressed support and happiness that I had survived. Buoyed by their support, I joined in their happiness over the ‘miracle’ of my survival. But as the fog cleared the view from my side was not so much a miracle as tragedy. This was not how I envisioned experiencing a ‘miracle’. Miracles were supposed to be joyous events, not events to be endured and struggled through.

 

This was not a happy or blessed time. This was instead, a nightmare to endure. It took over a year of out and inpatient therapy before I could walk with a cane. It took endless hours of therapy and individual exercise. Following the stroke, my body required outside assistance to accomplish even simple tasks. This was a new set of daily tasks to be performed by an already busy family.

 

This was not a miracle. How could I or anyone think so? I was angry, sad, and frustrated following the event. And folks were stopping by to remind me how lucky I was to have survived. How was survival a miracle? In addition to trying to process the effects of the stroke I was being told that I should feel lucky? While I certainly appreciated the show of support, being told that I was lucky was something I could not process.

 

It has only been after a good number of years that I have been able to begin to process the concept of luck associated with my stroke. Only after an incredible amount of work, help and living through the event and its aftermath that miracle has become a reasonable concept. Fortunate or lucky stroke survivors are left with enough faculties and the ability to start to put their lives back together.

 

The miracle is not in surviving the stroke and the damage it does. The miracle comes in watching or being a survivor that regains strength, function and fashions a new life. Miracles are not something that happens to you, some random act of a greater force that is bestowed on the survivor. Miracles are what survivors do to for themselves. Miracles are how family, friends and caregivers rebuild after the loss. They happen because people make them happen

 

 


David had a stroke in 2005 ending his career as a logistics consultant. Since the stroke he returned to college for a Sociology degree. He is a peer counselor, facilitates a local stroke support group, volunteers at the local United Way and writes for The Stroke Network.

 

 

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