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The Power of Faith and Determination: Janet's Stroke Story

Updated: Oct 15, 2023

August 27, 2002, my life abruptly changed forever. A typical morning in my household often looked like me waking up my eight-year old son for school and us enjoying breakfast together before me heading off to work and taking my son to school. This day was almost typical, both me and my son woke up late. This sent us into a tailspin and forced us to have to rush without breakfast.

After kissing my son goodbye as I dropped him off to school, I thought about my boss ranting because I was running late for our quarterly job fair. So, I decided to take a road less traveled to ensure that I arrived on time. Getting off the interstate, I noticed a new billboard that stated, “signs of a stroke” call 911. Then it listed several common symptoms. I rushed to read them and kept it moving.

After arriving at work, I rushed to help our vendors get each of their table’s set-up so that we could make sure we started on-time. I grabbed a Krispy Crème Donut and a cup of coffee to tide me over since I missed having breakfast with my son.

One o’clock came so quickly, and I was famished, even felt a little nauseated. As I was preparing to leave for lunch, a client entered the building in crisis, and I was the only person visible to assist. My boss requested that I handle the matter and delay my lunch, so I agreed. I proceeded to walk with the client back to my office and instantly became dizzy, so I sat down and yelled out for “help.” The client appeared to be high and unsteady herself, so she ran and got me some help. My co-worker ran into my office and asked what was wrong and I yelled “the run is spinning, and I feel like I am going to vomit!!” Fortunately for me, our company was hosting our annual blood drive with American Red Cross, so my co-worker ran to the other side of the building to get one of the RN’s. This access to medical assistance quickly, saved my life.

The nurse ran into my office and quickly began dialing 911, I yelled “please don’t call 911!!!” She said, “why?” I said, “if you call 911, that will mean I am having a stroke,” as I remembered the billboard sign, I so vividly remembered passing on my way to work that morning. Fast forward, three days later I woke up in Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital, looking around, seeing all the caution tape saying, “fall risk.”

I had visitors in my room at the time, so I asked, “what happened?” One of my church members replied, “you had a stroke and you have been in a deep sleep for three days.” I responded with an abrasive shout---"NO!” I proceeded then to attempt to get out of bed. My church member spoke up quickly and said “Janet, you cannot walk, that’s what the yellow caution tape is for.” I couldn’t believe it. I was in shock.

The nurse and doctor entered my room and completed a quick check of my vitals and observation of my ability to move my body as he commanded. The doctor expressed he was happy I was awake and that I could now begin my road to recovery but with extreme caution. The doctor further explained that I now needed to work hard to learn how to walk and talk clearly from the effects of the stroke. That I would require intensive physical, occupational and speak therapy. Additionally, this would have to be done in-patient. Rehab meant that I would have to remain in the hospital and commit to working hard so that I could one-day go home to my son and back to work and resume my life as I once knew it.

Fast forward, October 25, 2002, I was released from rehab, with the ability to walk only on a walker and with assistance. I was discharged with the orders of continuing rehab, out-patient 3 x times per week, and with continued support and hard work at home. I found this season in my life very discouraging, hearing the doctors say, “you are 43% on your left side and if you want to resume close to a life you once knew-you will have to put in a lot of hard work, with a whole lot of determination and the faith of a mustard seed.”

After spending two months in rehab, missing my son, I found the faith to press through. However, hard times were upon me. I quickly learned that two months in rehab cost me so much; my full-time job (reduced to part-time) and my townhouse apartment --now back to my parents’ home, because I could not maintain the rent while in rehab. Fortunately, my apartment manager allowed me to break my lease without penalty. Hard times did not stop there. I also found out that my car was taken by the courts while in rehab, because the tote-the-note car lot I purchased the car from, had all their property seized and unfortunately, I still owed a note on the car. I lost all my items that were left in the car too, because by the time I was able to find out what was going on, all of items left in the car were dumped and the car was sent to auction. Hard times didn’t stop there. As I met with my boss to discuss my rehab schedule and the possibility of me returning to work part-time, so that I could have some money to maintain some of my bills and dignity; I quickly learned that I did not have short-term nor long-term disability. The short-term and long-term disability were never a part of the offerings with my employer.

So, as you hear my story, life for me changed from this medical crisis which resulted in a financial crisis and a insurance crisis. But God!!!

My faith, the size of a mustard seed, the determination that my eight-year-old little boy gave me and hard work, I made it back to better!!! Now, look at God.

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