Ten years ago, at the end of July 1996, I sold the interior landscape company I had owned and operated for nearly 20 years.
Four years earlier I had a stroke as a result of a chiropractic manipulation. I’d always dreamed of writing “someday,” but it took that major wake-up call to realize “someday” is today!
When I woke up in the hospital the morning after the stroke, I was paralyzed on my right side, had lost sensation on my left side, had distorted vision, couldn’t talk, couldn’t raise my head off the pillow because my balance center was destroyed … actually the only thing I could do was throw up, which I did often and well! And the neurologist told me unless there was significant improvement in three days, I would probably be like that the rest of my life.
I realized I had two choices: either give up or do everything possible to prove the doctor wrong. For the next three days, I lay in the bed trying to move the fingers of my right hand and to lift my right shoulder off the bed so I could grasp the bed rail. Somehow, I knew if I could do that within three days, I would be fine. So I tried to move my fingers, said “move, move, move” over and over again in my mind, and prayed and prayed and prayed. In the wee hours of the morning of the third day, my fingers moved and I managed to lift my shoulder far enough off the bed to reach the rail.
I wanted to shout to the world – or at least call my husband – but I couldn’t reach the phone or talk coherently so I had to wait until morning to share my joy.
After more than a month in the hospital and rehabilitation center, I was able to go home – using a wheelchair in public but able to walk around my house using the walls or furniture for support. Although I continued in therapy for months, I went back to work in my business right away. The doctor told me it was unusual for anyone to return to work so soon after such a major stroke, but he knew me well enough to agree it would be better for me to be busy and active. And I loved my business and didn’t want it to fail, and I certainly didn’t want my employees to lose their jobs. I couldn’t do much at first, but my stamina and abilities steadily improved.
Managing a business, especially an interior landscape company which involved physical activity, proved to be a challenge while trying to recover from the stroke and using a scooter to get around. However, it was important for me to prove to myself that I could do it. And I did it – though certainly not on my own.
My husband Jack had to do a lot of things for me, as well as take over all the household duties and help with the business. He did it all without complaint and with complete confidence that I would get well.
My employees, including my sister Nancy who managed the maintenance department, were superb, doing everything possible to make my life easier.
I am eternally grateful to my family and my staff and know I would not have come as far as I did without them.
During this time, I decided that if I was ever going to realize my dream of becoming a writer, I had get started. It was about two years before I improved enough to write – the paralysis in my hand made typing difficult and I didn’t have enough stamina to do anything else after working in my business. But as soon as I could, I started writing a novel, Stroke of Luck. Since the heroine in the story goes through the same challenges I did, writing the book was therapeutic as well as a start on fulfilling my dream.
I continued to operate my business during the week and write on weekends until I sold the company ten years ago. Then I started my new life as a full-time writer – but I was a writer from the moment I wrote the first word of my novel.
[tags]writing, stroke, overcoming challenge[/tags]