The Story of Stroke: Learning to be me again Part 1

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January 25, 2017 by mamacravings

I cannot place the noise. It’s a noise of struggle, a gurgle, as if something is stuck. “Breathe,” my body whispers to me. It isn’t a gentle hush, but a weak command. As if waking from a dream, I try to make sense of it. I am still foggy. My body is still twitching from the seizure. I am frighteningly aware that I have no control over my own body.

With a head-crushing rush, the world comes flooding back to me: my baby screaming in the backseat, my husband begging 9-1-1 to come quickly. As the world is crashing back to my awareness, there is still a great mystery. What is that noise?

The noise is me. I am choking. I cannot breathe. For a moment, I panic. I feel the strangle of my own tongue in my throat. I fight against the tightness. Rolls of  spit slide down my chin. My mouth is foaming like a rabid animal. And I still cannot breathe. My breath is barely a shallow gasp. As much as I will my body to work, it will not obey. “Breathe!” The command came again. It’s stronger than the fear. I begin to chant to myself.

In. Out. In. Out. Good. Just keep going. It will pass. God, let this pass. Please. In. Out.

Willing that breath in and out of my body is like willing the world to exist again. It rushes at me like a crashing wave, furious and loud and strong. Suddenly I am aware as if I have never been aware before. Sounds are deafening. They swallow me. They press me against the passenger seat of my car.

My baby is screaming in the backseat. He is only 2 weeks old. I wonder if he is frightened. I would give anything to reach for him, to hold him, to comfort him. But I can’t. My body is not my own. It is stuck between heaven and earth. I no longer control it. Except perhaps my breath. If I can focus. I have to breathe.

I hear my husband’s tears. He is pleading with a 9-1-1 operator, trying to give directions to a gas station. I don’t have the energy to wonder how we got here. I ache for him as he pleads for the ambulance to hurry. I wish it to hurry too.

Try again. Breathe. If you keep breathing, it will be okay. Breathe. 

“Please, God, please….” He doesn’t finish the prayer. So, I do.

Please don’t let me die.

It’s not that I am afraid of death; It is dying in front of them that seems unbearable. It seems so unfair. If my husband has to lose his wife, if my 2 week-old baby must lose his mama, please don’t make them watch. I suppose death is rarely fair. But I want it to be as kind as possible to them. They are my world: my husband, my newborn and my 6 year-old.  And I am their’s. What would we do without one another? How could I go on, even in eternity, without them?

He’s a good father, the very best. But there are things he has never had to bother with. I should have shown him. I should have taken the time. Does he know that Eli likes water and then toothpaste on his toothbrush? It must be in that order. He can tell when it’s not. “God, I will never complain about toothpaste quirks again if you will let me see my little boy again. He doesn’t even know that we were going to the ER. God. I didn’t say goodbye. What was the last thing I said to my boy? Was it kind? Was it worth the words used? If I could go back. Please, Father, give me another chance.”

Breathe. Just one breath. Now try another. Are those sirens? 

EMS rushes in with an armory of equipment and questions. “Can you tell me your name,” one shouts a bit too loudly in my ear. I open my mouth to answer. I suppose noise came out. I suppose the question was sufficiently answered. He begins to call me by name. “Can you move your feet?” I wonder why he’s yelling? I wonder if it’s a good sign that I am annoyed by his yelling.

“Wiggle your toes for me.” If I currently had the where-with-all to roll my eyes, I would. What a silly direction. I’m still struggling to breathe, and he is asking about movement. “Try again, Mrs. Ortiz. Wiggle them.”

Try again? I can move. This is silly. There are more important things at hand.

I struggled to look down at my feet. My entire head rolled forward at the effort.

Wiggle. 

My blood rand cold. My left side isn’t moving. There’s not even a twitch. My eyes fell to the right side of my body. Yes, yes. They know what to do. My heavy head slumped to again catch a glance at my left.

Move. 

Nothing.

“Don’t worry, Mrs. Ortiz. We’ll get you onto the stretcher.”

However, I do worry.

I am carried to a stretcher. With one of side of my body utterly useless, with my own saliva still plastered to my chin, without knowing if this would be the worst of it, I was pushed into an ambulance. In all of my years, I never felt so alone. In all of my years, I had never known fear. But now I am well acquainted. It feels cold and ruthless. The sirens blare as the ambulance jerks into motion. I close my eyes to pray for what it is to become of me.

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Thank you for your support and love throughout this very scary time for our family. This incident happened on 29 December 2016. I will tell the rest of my story very soon. I am so grateful to be able to tell it at all. Much love. 

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38 thoughts on “The Story of Stroke: Learning to be me again Part 1

  1. Your testimony is so powerful! Thank you for being so transparent. ❤

  2. Nara says:

    So glad you are in recovery. Wishing you all the best. You are a fighter!

  3. Good to see you! Peace and blessings to you and your family, and continued prayers for a full recovery! 💜

  4. Oh my goodness! I’m so glad that you are recovering and your family didn’t lose you.

  5. toddandbaby says:

    This was so hard to read. From one mother to another, I am so, SO glad you are in recovery mode. I couldn’t help the thought that this could happen to any new mom. Prayers for a speedy recovery❤

    • mamacravings says:

      Absolutely. Apparently strokes in new moms is fairly common, not crazy common but more so than I thought. The location of the clot in my brain makes mine rare (thankfully. I don’t want anyone else going through this). It has been a very eye-opening experience.

  6. John Kraft says:

    Get better every day. Well written.

  7. Wonderful and heartwarming. Juan, as Superman with all of his strength and and purity of heart, helpless in this moment. But through that purity, came his strength to you. Felix, yes an infant needs his mother above all other things. He knew GOD sent him to you, and just his voice calling to you, bringing you back to him.

  8. That’s horrible. I’m so sorry! Beautiful family.

  9. Oh my goodness.. I can’t imagine the hell you went through and your tough road ahead. I’m so sorry this happened to such a wonderful person! Prayers for you. Can I share the gofundme site on my FB page?

    • mamacravings says:

      Thank you so much. Yes, it would be wonderful if you shared the site. I still don’t know how long it will be until I am medically cleared to return to my job as a literacy coach.

  10. Anna says:

    This is the first time for me to visit your blog. Thank you, thank you for being so strong and writing this testimony to remind us to just love our families every day of our lives and remember what is truly important.

  11. So grateful that you are okay !! Praise God. Your baby is gorgeous !!!

  12. brokentia says:

    My daughter is going to college to become a paramedic. Thank you for sharing so well detailed, this will help her to better understand patients she will be helping in the future.
    Much love and may God hear ours prayers that you are on a good road to recovery for you and your family.

  13. How awful. I’m so sorry for what you went through. So glad you are recovering. Your a fighter and you have a beautiful family xxx

  14. This piece put me right there with you. Extraordinary!

  15. April says:

    As someone who has worked with Stroke patients and now overseas the Quality of our stroke program, your story brings tears to my eyes! I am so sad to hear of this, but so happy that you get to share this experience with others. Stroke can happen to anyone!

  16. Wow, this is so beautiful and I’m completely enthralled! Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so glad you’re recovering!!!

    Sending love your way,

    Natalia

  17. I’m just crying so hard…I can relate all too well..I’m so thankful for God’s mercy on us both, on our families. May He continue to Bless and Bless you sweetheart. I will be back to read the rest soon…
    Rebekah

  18. Kaleb & Kamden's Mommy says:

    My mother had a stroke and 7 aneurisms rupture in her brain when I was only 3 months old. Aneurisms are the cause of death for her mother. They run STRONG in my family. My mother was told she would never walk again. She pleaded to God to just live long enough to watch me, her last baby graduate. She learned to walk again, though with a limp and has lived 6 years past my graduation and is still going. Her health is wobbly, but she is here.
    Stay strong momma. A stroke will change your whole outlook on life and life itself. For my mother, learning to button the snaps on my clothes was a grand task. Her and I learned to walk together. She has told me of the times we would both backwards crawl down stairs. Where there is will power, there is hope. Much love Momma!

    • mamacravings says:

      I am absolutely boohooing reading your comment. I worry so much about holding my kids back with the stroke. So, it is such an encouragement to read it from the perspective of a kid who went through it. Much love to you and to your mama as well. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story.

      • Kaleb & Kamden's Mommy says:

        My mom is able to hold her grandbabies. She does limp, but she does surprinsingly well for someone who is in their 50s and went through what she has. Once you start recovering and go through theerapy, it will be difficult. Take pictures of your kids with you to look at on your rough days. To remind yourself why you are pushing so hard. That is what my mom said she did and it helped motivate her quite a bit. If you ever have an questions, I can also ask my mom for you. It has been a few years, but I am sure she would offer any advice she could.
        My mom told me when she was in and out of operating, they would open the door and she could hear my sister saying “It’s gonna be alright momma.” And that gave her strenght to fight through.
        I will be reading your blog and checking in on you!

      • mamacravings says:

        That’s amazing! Thank you for all of the encouragement!!

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