Accepting Who I Am
I spent over 30 years in the accounting and finance departments of both residential and commercial construction. I was always in a position of trust and I took that role very seriously — with the credentials to prove it.
On October 28, 2013, I was headed back to work after lunch when I experienced a very bad headache, which was not the norm for me. I was driving, but the headache got so bad that I pulled over to the side of the road. I got out of my vehicle and collapsed to the ground. This is all I remember, but someone called 911 because Flight for Life arrived and took me to a hospital in Denver. There I had brain surgery and spent 95 days recovering and ran up around $3 million in medical bills. No joke; that is exactly what happened!
As it turns out, I had four aneurysms in my brain, and all of them ruptured at the same time, which caused a massive stroke. We are talking major brain surgery to fill the aneurysms with coils. I have a permanent metal shunt in my head to keep everything in place. They also removed part of my brain on the left side. I had to learn to walk, eat, think and drive again. I lost everything — my job, my home, my belongings. I left the hospital in a hospital gown, with only my purse and a cellphone. I had to start over completely at age 50.
My son, Cody, age 27 at the time, and I moved in with friends in Greeley for a few months. Colorado was no longer a good fit for me, and we moved to Michigan, where I got a job in sales with a paint contractor. I can no longer handle accounting and finance.
The stroke produced other repercussions. First, my short-term memory is gone. I have to write everything down, but that works. My long-term memory is great. I also have tinnitus, nasty, nonstop ringing in my ears — very annoying. I also had cataracts as a result of the blood from the ruptured aneurysms flooding my eyes. They replaced both lenses, and I can see fine now, except for a permanent dark blotch in my left eye. I do use “cheaters” [reading glasses] to see close up, but I think that’s just age.
Because of the short-term memory loss, I do repeat myself a lot in conversations. Sorry about that, friends.
I want to acknowledge my brother, Kevin, who lived nearby and put his life on hold to be with me night and day while I was in the hospital. I owe him and the amazing doctors and therapists big time!
A very good friend always makes me laugh when she says, “Honey, life’s a bitch and then you die.” Well, I know from experience that life is tough and it only gets harder as we age! I am learning who I am at age 53. I can say this for sure, I never gave up on life — nor will I despite what I have become today. I always do the best I can with what I have to work with. That is simply who I am.
BETH SORENSON | Survivor St. Joseph, Michigan
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