Twenty one years since my life took a rather unexpected detour. A day filled with aimless long drives from point A to point B when that day would be the last day where I had the ability to zip down the highway in that cute little cracker box of a 5-speed Chevy Sprint. Running errands for everyone… voluntarily. When I was uncharacteristically spacey and then topped it all off with asking my parents if my 19 year old self could sleep on the floor in their room; an old habit from rough times in my childhood.
I went to take a bath. As the tub filled with hot water, I thumbed through an issue of Rolling Stone with some gorgeous grunge rocker on the cover. My feet were propped up on the still running faucet as the tub filled up.
I almost had the water level where I wanted for a nice, long soak. As I started reading an article, my right hand and leg simultaneously dropped like stones. I tried to put them back in their rightful places, but they wouldn’t budge.
I started to panic at that point. I tried to yell for my mom, but no sound came from my moving lips, so I tried again with no result. I turned the faucet off with my foot and tried to get myself out of the tub. Luckily, I made enough noise that my mom came to investigate.
She popped the lock and went into RN mode. She hollered at my brother to help get me out of the tub, and yelled for my dad to call 911, saying that I was having a stroke.
From there it was a blur. But now, it’s that time of year when as much time has passed, the magnitude of it all gets to me. Every time I take a bath, I feel as if it’s an act of defiance instead of something social preferred to do. I can’t help but be taken back in time to that night when everything changed.
I get pretty down in February. I’m still mourning the loss of a fully functioning body, even after all these years. If the stroke were a baby, I’d be able to legally drink with it. I have lived longer with the after effects of the stroke than I lived as a fully functioning human being.
Oddly enough, I bounce back every year. I remember everything I have to be thankful for. When I had the stroke, and in the days, weeks, and months that rolled in behind it, I never thought that I’d have kids or drive or any of the things I took for granted that they would come along.
So, tonight, I’ll go to bed and cuddle with the kiddos and just be glad those twenty one years later, I’m still here.