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Why I Feel Grateful as a Stroke Survivor

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Five years ago, my family came and surrounded me with such extraordinary comfort, understanding and strength. I remember not really comprehending, not grasping, that I had a stroke. I was only 50 and showed no signs of issues like this before, so how could I have a stroke?

Living through such a shocking and alarming circumstance, I learned a lot. I learned who I can count on. I learned that I thought I was in control of what happened to me, but I wasn’t. I learned humility and how to swear like a trucker!

I remember the frustration of wanting to find words, but the words just didn’t come. I remember not feeling parts of my body, yet I could see them. I remember the fear and shock. Will this be the last time I will see my husband or my children? I couldn’t even express the love I felt for them. How would my children manage if I were gone? I remember thinking that I was going to ruin my son’s wedding if I died just weeks before it. I remember being angry because this wasn’t what my family deserved to be experiencing. I remember my need to move forward and get my words and body back.

One morning I woke and somehow overnight, I felt gratitude. I was not grateful for having a stroke, but I was grateful for the lessons and opportunities it had given me. I could now look at my world and see how amazing it was. Even with the chronic pain, having a stroke and the deficits I was experiencing, I was alive. What a fantastic new world I was now in. Every time I looked out that hospital window, I would think about those getting into their cars and driving away, having lost a soul. My family would drive away knowing I was cared for. Soon my fierce determination to move and speak again would propel me to a place of healing and understanding. It was a gift.

I have had 2 more strokes since and even though these experiences were not pleasant, I feel grateful to have lived through them. I am reminded every day in the simplest ways that I am alive. These will only be memories and not something that broke me. I am stronger for these experiences, and I rest knowing it is because of those I love and my gratitude. And now, I feel peace and joy waking every morning.

Originally published: August 2, 2021
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