By Patricia Raya, Guest Blogger
I’m a self- proclaimed adrenaline junkie, I love to scuba dive, skydive, and ride a motorcycle. On August 17, 2015, I was going to start a new job in New York City. On August 10, 2015, my husband and I were talking about my new job and planning our next vacation, he wanted to go to Maine I wanted to go to Aruba. The last thing I remember saying was that I wanted to go places while I still could.
Everything was about to change. I fell asleep, and when I woke up my husband was holding my hand and told me I was in the Neuro Intensive Care Unit at a local hospital and I had had a massive stroke. I asked him how bad was it and what was my prognosis (I am a nurse). The doctor told me it was very bad and they didn’t know the true extent of it yet.
I don’t remember anything from my stay at the hospital. All I knew was that they saved my life. After I was stable I was transferred to the Brain Trauma Unit (BTU) at another hospital, where I got to start my new job learning to walk again, learning to eat, and learning to never give up.
They say things can change in the blink of an eye and that is so very true. I am a perfect example.
My daughter was getting married the following May and I told my therapists I wanted to walk down the aisle at her wedding. It was at BTU that I took my first steps with the help of my physical therapist. I decided that besides working as hard as I could and doing everything my team of therapists, nurses and doctors told me to do, I was going to make the best out of the situation.
My warped sense of humor amused my family, visitors and staff. I put a bullet hole and a mohawk on my helmet, and racing decals on my wheelchair. After several weeks, I had progressed enough to go to inpatient rehabilitation. Again, I had a fabulous team of therapists and nurses and doctors. My rehabilitation was intense and I continued making steps forward. My job was still to get stronger and be persistent. April 2016, I made enough progress so that I could go home and continue my therapy as an outpatient.
On May 21, 2016, my son-in-law walked me and his mother both down the aisle. I achieved my goal!
I am still going to therapy as an outpatient, where I continue to improve my walking. The ability to move my right arm and hand is slow and continues to be a work in progress. I am still working on some minor cognitive challenges. Again, I thank my wonderful therapists for their dedication, support and encouragement. My next big goal is getting my driver’s license back. I am currently taking driving lessons, with my license in sight.
People tell me that I’m an inspiration because of the size of my stroke and the 5 surgeries I had on my brain, and how far I’ve come. I truly am blessed to be alive. I had an outstanding team that saved my life and supported and encouraged me to get me this far. I am working now with another incredible team that is taking me further. I just have some right-sided weakness to my leg, arm and hand. I have learned that stroke recovery is a long journey that takes time and patience.
I’ve learned to slow down, and if you need help, ask for it. Simple things like taking a shower you need to stop, think, and plan. Walking, I think to myself, tight and tall with my right leg and left leg long step. Nose over toes when you go from sit to stand. Sleep is important for brain healing, that is when your brain updates itself like a computer. Although I have made a tremendous recovery, my journey is still in progress.
My mantra has been never, never, never give up. We are not just stroke survivors we are stroke warriors.
To learn more about stroke, visit http://www.strokeassociation.org
The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of The American Heart Association | American Stroke Association. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.
The American Heart Association’s blog is not intended to provide medical advice or treatment. Only your healthcare provider can provide that. The American Heart Association recommends that you consult your healthcare provider regarding your personal health matters. If you think you are having a heart attack, stroke or another emergency, please call 911 immediately.
7 thoughts on “Never Give Up”
Very touching story from one AMAZING woman.
Keep on getting better and better.
You are an inspiration to so many!!!!
It truly does take a village.
Patty, you are such an inspiration to everyone. Never giving up and having such an incredible focus on rehabilitation, with a side of humor. You remind all of us to take nothing for granted. Life is a gift, you never know what tomorrow will bring. Thank you for allowing people to take a glimpse into your life. I know you will reach your new goal in due time. It was great seeing you at the Peppermint and Ginger Kits Fundraiser.
Very inspirational, Patty. Thank you for posting!
Awesome progress, my friend! You are the gutsiest person I have ever known! God is watching you and his angels are holding your hand every day. I love you!!! Bobbi Agins
Patti, you are one of a kind. Not many people could have endured what you did. You are a true role model.
You were very lucky to have a wonderful husband standing by you every step of the way.
People are blessed by all the times you decided to keep going and pushing. Your story continues to be amazing!
One of a kind! You make me proud to know you! I cannot believe how far you’ve come, i saw you that first day in ICU and never, ever, ever in my wildest dreams did i think i would see you around today, still causing trouble, still the most important woman to Alfie, and Mom to Kimmie and Sharon. And still doing whatever you can to help others~Keep at it Patti! Love you!