Fast forward two years and some change: a week ago I found myself in a hospital bed, surrounded by doctors telling me I am way too YOUNG for this to be happening. A “lucky stroke” was what they called it.
Let’s just lay it all out there. I am overweight. I have battled a weight problem my entire adult life. Topping the scales at almost 300 pounds, I had a gastric bypass in 2007. I lost a great deal of weight and was down to 165 and a size 8. Then a family tragedy happened, my husband was deployed again, and my Rheumatoid Arthritis started to rear it’s ugly head… the pounds started to creep back on. Add in another deployment, other health issues, and then a surprise pregnancy (an IUD is apparently no match for a homecoming from Afghanistan)… and here I am battling the bulge once again. I am not near 300 again, but I would like to drop 80 more pounds.
I also do not deal with stress well… at all. Over the past few years I have developed quite a problem in the anxiety department, exacerbated when I am in a stressful situation. I take on too many things, get emotionally attached to people or situations that are not healthy, and haven’t yet learned how to let go of my anger or hurt about said people or situations. The past 6 months of my life have probably been the most stressful in my life… and looking back on it now, I know that I could have avoided much of that by removing myself from situations or people a lot sooner.
So, as I laid in the hospital and the doctor first said the word “stroke”, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I did this to myself. This is my fault. What have I done?
That night, part of me thought that they would come in the next morning and say that it was just an anxiety attack. It hadn’t really happened. Even now, I have moments where I feel great and I wonder if there was some mistake.
And then I try to lift my daughter with my left arm…. and I can’t. Or I dare to walk around Wal-mart for 30 minutes… and my left leg feels like it ran a marathon. Or I walk down the hallway too quickly and the dizziness overwhelms me. Or I have to stop, mid-sentence during a phone call and apologize while I try to remember what I was saying. Or I am in bed sleeping on and off until almost 6 pm, like yesterday… but I am still exhausted today.
It really happened. I had a stroke. At age 39.
Turns out, my cholesterol is fine. My heart (according to the ultrasound and other tests) is the vision of health. Sure, the doctors have told me that a heart healthy diet and losing weight are important… but it’s not what they are pointing to for this stroke. Together, my cardiologist, neurologist and rheumatologist will hopefully piece together WHY this happened, so we can prevent another one in the future.
In the meantime, this has been a wake-up call for me. I am not springing to action, I really am not physically able to do so yet. But I have been spending a lot of time alone with my thoughts, my anxiety, and my guilt. I have cried, a lot. I have reached out to a therapist. I started Weight Watchers and am trying to move a little every day.
And I am trying to wrap my mind around the concept every day… “A lucky stroke”, he said.
I’m looking forward to the day when, in hindsight, I can agree with that statement.
Many Kind Regards,
Read next: I Am Forty, I Don't Have To Like You Anymore