In my experience, life-changing days do not announce themselves. This was the case a few months ago when an ordinary day came to an end and I finished my nightly ablutions and approached our bed.
I said to my husband: “Did you take the dog out?” but heard instead a muted flow of unrelated syllables. Suddenly there was an unexpected stillness inside broken by the sound of an interior voice: “You are having a stroke”. Seconds passed that seemed an eternity. I remained eerily calm. I was in my body. My body was in danger. I could not communicate. I needed an aspirin. I needed to go to the hospital. I felt no fear. I was acutely aware of the separation between “me” and my body, but not “out of body”.
Two weeks earlier I had decided to move my private practice to a more suitable location. I found a space I fell in love with. I came to a verbal agreement with my new landlord, called the movers and arranged a date and time for my move. But when the day of my move came, “something” made me stop the process. The message was loud and clear, and unlike other times in my life when I had ignored such messages with not very good results, I decided to listen. On the very day of the move I told the movers to move all the furniture to our garage. I was absolutely certain despite all reason that I was not to move to my new office.
My husband of twenty- five years did not try to dissuade me. He watched, he listened, and he supported my decision. We both thought perhaps the warning had to do with the space itself, had faith that I would know when the right time came.
Now the warning became clear. A stroke.
I stood still, still acutely aware but with no sense of panic for seconds before I began to attempt to communicate to my husband what had happened. His back was to me and he is hard of hearing. I mustered all my energy and tried to enunciate my words: “I AM HAVING A STROKE!” I heard “ah ah ah ah”. Tears began to flow unbidden. My husband turned to face me. He saw my confusion written on my face and realized something was seriously wrong. When I tried to speak again, he got it. He immediately reached for the aspirin, gave it to me, and got dressed. The hospital was less than a mile away. We were there almost immediately. In less than two hours my speech had returned. I could be understood, although speaking took an unprecedented effort. Hours later I left the hospital. Days later I underwent surgery to clear the blocked artery in my neck that led to the stroke.
After the surgery, the calm that accompanied the incident was gone. I became impatient with myself, wanting the ease of communication I had before. I dreaded sitting at my computer. Would I still be able to write? I wondered what a writer did when the mind could not focus, could not find the words necessary to express itself. From the inside of me to the outside world there seemed to be an insurmountable distance.
I remembered a Hospice patient I once had who suffered from Lou Gherig’s disease. She had been lucid but trapped in a body that could not communicate. At the time I was astonished at her will to live, wondering what made her cling to life so hard despite her circumstances. Now I saw her situation from a different vantage point. Life was precious, even when lived from a distance. She had been at peace.
But not I; I was outwardly inpatient, impossibly emotional, unable to concentrate. I had a sudden insight that I was no longer familiar with myself. Normally patient and slow to anger I became impatient and able to reach rage stage quickly. My normally quiet spirit was in turmoil. It had once felt like a peaceful dove. Now it reminded me of a hummingbird in perpetual motion. Such effort to be a hummingbird! I wondered if that was why hummingbirds often seemed ill humored. I could identify.
Shortly after the surgery I was told that the arteries to my heart were blocked. I saw the best specialists who all agreed that I was “a ticking time bomb”. My husband and my children were extremely concerned. My children advocated surgery. My husband offered his support in whatever I chose to do. Despite conceding that the open-heart surgery might be the best way to proceed from a medical standpoint, my spirit once again sent out a warning that I could not ignore. NO SURGERY. STOP. NOT NOW. My body was not strong enough to survive another invasive procedure. I knew that. Not yet. Immediately a name from my past surfaced: Dr. Dana Myatt. I set out to find her.
Dr. Dana Myatt was someone I never forgot. I met her almost twenty years ago when she had just finished school. I recognized in her the spirit of a true healer. Dr. Myatt was a dynamo whose focus was how to make her patients better. She poured her seemingly endless energy into being the best physician she could be. I looked for her and found her and she agreed to work with me despite her very busy caseload. She and her husband, Nurse Mark, made a commitment to help me heal. I could do no less for myself.
Dr. Dana did not try to dissuade me from undergoing surgery. She told me what she could do for me, and what she thought we could improve, and offered her support in whatever decision I made. She gave me a diet to follow, a list of supplements to take, and bless her heart, she even took on my hummingbird spirit. She has been there for me every step of the way, watching me succeed, rejoicing in every victory, and digging deep for knowledge to meet the challenges of my sometimes unique symptoms. She is the physician we all yearn for and deserve but seldom find. My gratitude to her for walking this journey with me is endless.
Slowly I am finding my way back to my writing, my way to myself. I have learned much about friendship, and even more about love. My husband has walked with me every step or the way through a very difficult few months when the woman he fell in love with almost disappeared. My children put away their fears to respect my wishes. I know how difficult that has been for them and it makes me proud to know that supporting me has been more important to them than convincing me to act against my wishes to assuage their fears.
The last few months have been full of challenges and blessings. Meditation has become possible and I have discovered peace exixts in the space between the movements of the wings of the hummingbird. Life is the more precious for its fragility. Love the more magnificent for its constancy.
If you ever wondered about your writing this following phrase should give you the grace to relax and be the truly amazing writer you are:
“I have discovered peace exixts in the space between the movements of the wings of the hummingbird.”
I read that sentence twice…the words, like you are beautiful and true.
Please accept my heartfelt thank you for your comment. I treasure your opinion and consider myself fortunate to count you among my dearest friends.
I had no idea what you’ve been going through! Thank you so much for sharing your story with us all. I am a healing touch practitiones and teacher and a Reiki Master. I am part of a large and beautiful network of healers, many of whom I’ve trained myself. May I have your permission to put your name on your healing list? What we will do is send remote healing to you for as long as you would like. Not to worry if you’d rather not have this now. We’re here only to be truly helpful.
With much love,
I would be grateful and consider it a privilege if you were to put my name on the healing list! Thank you! I had no idea you were a healing touch practitioner and Reiki Master. We both learned something new about each other today.
Much love to you!
Thank you, Adrianne, for this post. It is a tangible picture that peace in the midst of a ferocious storm is possible. Walking through the frightening ordeal with you here has been an honor – thank you for allowing us the privilege. I also was moved by your statement, “peace exists in the space between the movements of the wings of the hummingbird.” A beautiful sentiment spoken by a beautiful spirit.
Donna, thank you for visiting my blog and for your beautiful comment.
The peace I felt in that moment was atypical and totally different from any feeling I had ever experienced. It “surpassed all understanding”.
Not long after it happened I shared it with someone whose wife had died instantly from a stroke, and I think the thought that perhaps that peace accompanied her in that moment helped him. I hope so.
So many times in our Catholic church the priest says “The peace of the Lord be with you” and we answer “and also with you”- not really knowing the power of that peace. I am a million times blessed to have caught a glimpse!
Te quiero mucho mi amiga
Yo también, Mini!!
We love our beautiful dove/hummingbird- Thankful for everything you are…
-The peace of Christ-
I love all of you back, Rachel. His peace be with every one of you!
I was in touch with you during your fears. I’m so glad you listened to your “inner being”….and got medically diagnosed, instead of continuing your regular chores. Now you’re on the road you choose with the support you feel is the correct one for your “unique self”. A talented writer with a higher spiritual connection. Many blessings. You are always in my thoughts and prayers.
Emy, thank you for being there for me during the days of darkness. Your sweet support and your wisdom helped to get me through those times! Sending you love.
It looks like Emy and I were reading this about the same time, just as we were both in touch with you during those scary days of your health crisis. Even as you were going through that vulnerable time, I never felt you weakening in your core, even when you were consciously trying to make sense of all that was going on in order to make decisions about it. Being able to witness how you handled this situation taught me to be more attentive to my inner voice. (I’ve been known to ignore it or override it, to my detriment.)
Seeing you two weeks ago, looking radiant and together, filled me with joy and sweetness. Thank you, my dearest Tocaya, for the gift of your friendship, your wisdom and your kindness. Thanks to Dr Dana for her gift of healing, and to your sweet husband, thanks for the gift of his love for you, which I was privileged to observe in person.
Live long and keep us posted, dear peaceful dove friend with the hummingbird soul.
Yoli, my dear Tocaya, thank you for your heartfelt words. Yes, you and Emy were both there for me and I am ever so grateful to you both.
Having you here with us was a wonderful treat!
I, too, have ignored my inner voice before, to my detriment. But in all fairness, you and I weren’t raised to pay attention to inner voices but to listen to our elders’ version of their purpose for our lives. Maybe we are growing up now that they have left us….you think? 🙂
My gratitude to my sweet husband, to Dr. Dana and Nurse Mark, extends to you and to my friends that didn’t walk away when things got tough. You have walked this path with me and been there every step of the way. I am graced by your friendship. Love to you.
Beautiful, since this blog is over 5 years old it seems your instincts were right on the mark.
I finally had a quintuple bypass surgery in December of 2015. Great since. Dr Myatt gave me the time I needed to get my body and spirit prepped for the surgery and per my last visit to the cardiologist my heart is good as new. Gracias a Dios.
Que Deus te Abencoe. Heading a cama the porto is wearing off. 🙂
Thank you for sharing!
I too feel blessed . . . for having met YOU and all the other wonderful folks at that transformative weekend at Mount Shasta. Continue to take good care. Keeping you dear to my heart.
Thank you dear Robbie. I too keep you near to my heart. ❤️