Walking the Runway to Recovery

2011 was a tough year - but after surviving kidney failure, a stroke, seizures, high blood pressure and a Lupus diagnosis, Deborah Williams advice is to never give up.



Survivor, mom and model Deborah Williams

I experienced kidney failure back in October of 2011, when I was 42 years old. I dropped down to 86 lbs. and had a fever of 105.6. Later, in December, I had a stroke, seizures, high blood pressure, a concussion and was diagnosed with Lupus. Even though I was blessed enough to wake up in the middle of the night and fight my way through the remainder of the stroke, I was in bad shape after it occurred. I don’t know about you, but I could feel it happening. My ring finger on my right hand began to curl up, and I used all the strength I had to force my body to move until I felt the stroke pass. At first, I could not talk, and could barely walk, see, hear, read, write, reason or remember. I do remember feeling like I’d been in a bad accident.

When I spoke to another friend of mine who is also a survivor, she told me a stroke is sometimes called, “the stroke of God’s hand.” Well, if that is true, God all but slapped the taste out of my mouth! I can laugh now, because I was blessed enough to recover.

I have a doctorate in theology. I’ll tell you, it is one thing to study the Word, but it is entirely different to walk it out. I never lost faith. I think every meal I consume comes with a side of hope. I notice as I continue on my road of recovery that I am more careful about a lot of things: my diet, taking vitamins and minerals (I am no longer on any medications), choosing who enters my circle and who I call my friend, and I make sure I get some rest. Rest is so important! I hug my kids more! (Poor guys! As if I weren’t already overbearing, LOL!) I forgive and forget faster. I understand my worth better and know God spared my life for a purpose.

Don’t give up. I am not going to lie to you by telling you it is easy. It isn’t, but you are worth it! Make that your mantra.

Since my stroke, I got my health insurance license and was picked up by Wilhelmina Model (Agency). I was so excited to walk the runway again — in four-inch heels, no less — I think I left my signature on it! I am currently studying Improving Global Health: Focusing on Quality and Safety through edX/HarvardX. Because of some of the bad experiences I (and others) have had while in the hospital, I want to use what I am learning to advocate for better hospital services for those who are not able to speak for themselves. When I was infirm, I asked my family to be my voice. I think you understand.

I would tell new survivors: Everything is still in there, and you can regain your memory, and possibly do even better than before. Don’t give up. I am not going to lie to you by telling you it is easy. It isn’t, but you are worth it! Make that your mantra. Whatever friends you lose, you lose. You will find out who your real friends are, and remember, you have a friend in God. I did not seem a likely candidate for stroke, but the truth is, it can happen to anyone. I am grateful to God for my speedy and miraculous recovery, and I hope and pray for you.


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