I had a rough day yesterday. I’m not going into great detail because the internet doesn’t need more complainers (and I already complained a little on facebook – ugh), but tough things happen sometimes and I think it’s okay to be a little shaken up by those things. A wise person suggested shifting my perspective. That’s not the easiest thing to do and frankly I didn’t even really try last night. I let myself celebrate a big UNC win and went to bed knowing today would probably be better.
When I woke up I was in a different place.
“I’m not going out like this” I told the nurse as I fell back onto the parked gurney. Nervous jokes are kind of my thing. I could see the room the nurse needed me to walk to just a few feet away, but a combination of nerves and the needle poked into my arm made me too weak to do it on my own. It was early April and at that point I’d already been waiting six months to find out what was wrong with me. I’ve had very few medical issues in my life. I’ve never even had the flu (this is when I’d knock on wood if I was superstitious – I’m not).
When I had my first episode in October 2012, I was a little nervous. I was sitting at work when I suddenly lost sight and my arm went numb. Maybe that’s an emergency room situation. I don’t know. I just called my mom, described my symptoms, and waited for it to go away. It did and everything was fine, until it happened again. Over the next few months I went through the bureaucracy of scheduling and rescheduling important visits with various doctors and specialists.
Do you know how frustrating it is to schedule doctors appointments months in the future while you nervously calculate all the possibilities of what’s wrong with your body? Actually, most of you probably do know what that’s like. We’ve all been there or will be there at some point.
Look, it’s not that I really believed I was going to die soon. It’s just that in the back of my mind there’s always been the thought that I might be the one of my dad’s five kids to inherit the defective brain — When I was three months old and he was just 36, he had a massive stroke. I’m not going to use proper medical terms but essentially his brain started bleeding and tried to kill him. He wasn’t supposed to live, or at least that’s what I’ve gathered by the fact that doctors told my mom to say goodbye. Big win for context clues!
Anyway.. he’s alive today, first and foremost, because a hotel maid found him stretched out across the edge of a hotel bed in full work attire in the middle of the day. At first she closed the door and walked away, thinking she’d disturbed him. Then she thought about it again and went back to make sure he was okay.
My dad is here today because a woman just trying to clean a hotel room second guessed herself. That’s how insane this world is! Tiny fractions of thought can literally save a person’s life.
Call me crazy, but I’ve never been interested in having my life depend on someone finding me in time to save me. I don’t live alone, so I guess the odds are better now than they would’ve been in Jackson where I knew few people and just lived with my dog, but I wouldn’t want to put that kind of pressure on my roommate. Honestly, that’s the kind of crap I thought about in the weeks leading up to the needle in my arm.
By my April 9th brain scan appointment I was bouncing back and forth between pretty sure I’d be fine and waiting for my brain to explode and kill me any minute. Honestly, I should’ve known by then that if I had a delicate aneurysm waiting to burst I would’ve blown it wide open with the stress I’d put on while trying to imagine all the scenarios of my dramatic early death.
It took a few days to get the results. Those few days were absolutely filled to the brim with friends and family sending me messages, calling, and emailing to let me know they were hoping for the best. People I’ve barely kept in touch with wanted to make sure I knew they were thinking about me. People who don’t really know me but remember when my dad had his stroke were contacting me. I was completely surrounded with love and kindness right up to the minute I found out I just have some crazy, rare type of migraines. The type of migraines that can present themselves with stroke like symptoms. It’s kind of a cruel joke, but a nice one. I’ll take crazy-ass migraines over brain surgery any day… and certainly over dying alone in a room somewhere because no one found me in time.
That’s the shift in perspective I needed. It’s December of 2013 and I’m alive and relatively healthy. I didn’t really expect to be dead by now, except maybe for a few minutes between the needle and the end of the MRI, but we’re allowed a little drama in those kinds of moments. Tough days are tough. They’re supposed to be. They’re the teaching days. I’ve had a lot of them this year and I’m glad.
I’m thankful for the chance to learn, to love, to feel loved, and to just be alive a while longer. And I’m damn sure thankful for the hotel worker who kept me from never really knowing the best guy in my world.