Life is what you make it! — Judy

I was the General Manager of a full-service restaurant and I was at work early one Monday to do physical inventory. The manager working for me said I complained about the ‘worst headache of my life’ before I had a seizure and went into a coma. It was the 4th of July – there were fireworks outside but some inside my head, too! My employee called 9-1-1 and I got my first and only helicopter ride as Air-Evac took me to St. Joseph’s Hospital and I was admitted to Barrow where I spent the next 2 months. I was in a coma for July and most of August – I got to avoid the worst of the Phoenix summer! I had a couple of brain surgeries and now have a permanent shunt in my head. I also had a tracheotomy and a feeding tube. Waking up from being in a coma and surviving a brain injury made me realize that I had been given a second chance.

I was dating a really good guy when I had my stroke – he is now my husband. I had a good job and had raised 2 kids by myself and felt like I was pretty successful. The thing is that no one looks back at their life and wishes they had spent more time at work, they wish they had spent more time with their family.

So, I decided I would be thankful for the second chance I had been given. I am thankful every day that I am here, and I am so grateful for those in my life.

I was encouraged to attend a stroke survivor group offered at St. Joseph’s after my stroke and I loved being around others that had been through a TBI like I had. They encouraged me and I encouraged them! I see my kids and grandkids all the time now and am so thankful that I have been given this second chance. 

You can’t change the fact that you have had a stroke/tbi, but you CAN change how you respond. You can make lemonade out of your lemons – or as a friend of mine said, I didn’t just make lemonade but lemon cake and lemon cookies and lemon scones and lemon bars… Life is what you make it. Be thankful you have a life!