Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

                Ten years ago I found myself facing challenges I never could have imagined.  Ten years ago this week I woke from brain surgery learning I had a stroke during the operation.  I was twenty-seven.  What was it that allowed me to embrace the challenges faced while recovering from this event?  Where does that inner strength and determination come from?  I really can’t answer these questions.  Whatever it was, wherever it came from, is unknown, yet I am fiercely grateful for this drive.  I can walk independently now.  I can speak clearly without slurring my words.  I celebrate doing simple things in life most people take for granted.  I do all these things which, not so long ago, would have been unthinkable accomplishments if I had allowed myself to accept the speculated dismal outcomes predicted.

Each year I ask myself if the 25th of June should be celebrated as an anniversary or as a birthday.  Anniversaries are happy days set up to celebrate the joining of two lives.  Some might not understand why the date of my stroke would be considered a happy day.  It is though.  I have always believed it is only when life knocks you down beyond where you could have imagined that you really learn to appreciate all the beauty life delivers.  When you climb the mountain of challenges placed in front of you, this is really when you appreciate the beautiful gifts of life.  My life before was happy.  And, though it is different in so many ways, the life I live now is also joyfully celebrated.  So, rightfully, happy anniversary to me for the day which taught me the true potential to change, grow and appreciate the gift of living.  Each year is a happy celebration of joining my life as it is today and the years that helped mold the strength which allowed me to overcome challenges.

Or, should I say Happy Birthday to me?  No, it is not my true birthday in the traditional sense of the word.  However, the stroke changed who I am.  I know I am not the same person I was before my stroke.  I accept that.  I even rejoice this.  I recognize I am a different person in some ways.  I am stronger.  I have more empathy for the difficulties people face.  I am more attentive to the gifts life offers.  I am more grateful for each and every day I have.  Life now is never taken for granted.    Similar to an infant in many ways, the stroke forced me to learn developmental tasks once again.  I learned how to walk and tie my shoes.  I learned how to catch a ball, hold a pencil and hold my beautiful babies in my arms.  I learned these early lessons again with the coordination of an inexperienced toddler, yet having the eyes of an experienced adult.  In this perspective, happy birthday to me.

                Tuesday, the night of my ten year anniversary/birthday ended with my youngest, an eleven year-old, making a tent and sleeping in my room.  She was sleeping near my bed, and I reached out my arm to rub her back.  She turned over and grabbed my hand.  She was rubbing my arm up and down, up and down.  Constant repetitive touches on my left arm and leg have been painful since I had my stroke.  I asked her to stop and reminded her rubbing me like that hurts.  She said, “Give me your other hand then.”  I gave her my right hand.  She didn’t question it.  This is her norm.  This is just how her mom is.  On this night, we fell asleep with her holding my right hand.  I can only hope in the next ten years of our lives we can continue to grow and create as many happy memories of success stories as we’ve discovered this past decade.


Comments on: "Happy Anniversary or Should I Say Happy Birthday?" (12)

  1. Happy anniversary/birthday to you! I am so very grateful to have found your blog. I ruptured an aneurysm in November 2011 and required emergency brain surgery to clip it. I suffered physical and cognitive impairments as a result also. The injury never impacted my ability to recognize the people I knew. I admire your strength and positive outlook. I try everyday to remain positive, even though I still have some residual effects from the stroke (chronic left sided pain, frozen shoulder, residual seizure activity, weakness in short term memory, expressive speech and attention).

    Since I’ve been unable to work since my stroke and am still undergoing rehabilitation, I have taken to writing. It’s been a love of mine since I was a young girl. I never really had the time for it until now. When I read your posts and see how beautifully and eloquently you write, I know that language is still in my brain. I just have to coordinate it to my fingers and then to the keyboard. I’m getting there, slowly.

    I don’t mean to hog your comments section, but just know that I will be back; over and over again. The inspiration, advice, and hope you bring drives me to work harder. My doctors have said that my recovery has been enormous. I’d like to take it out of this world! Thank you again and God Bless You for starting this blog and sharing.

    • Messages like this mean so much to me. Thank you. Thank you so very much! You are letting me know my goal of helping other people is becoming a reality.

      I am sorry you still have so many lingering residual effects from your stroke. I hope these fade away into the past for you soon. I know we become more adapted to the challenges that linger, but it still be be so much better if they would just disappear and not test us so much, wouldn’t it?

      I wish you the best. And again, please know how grateful I am for your kind words.


  2. You deserve the happiest of Anniversaries/Birthday’s, etc. on ALL these special days!!! Now just think……. you actually have TWO of each (or more). Congrats!!! Luv ya!

    • Karen, I actually get to skip my “true” birthday when Ron is away. So, due to his work schedule, I have not had an actual birthday celebration in years. It keeps me thinking I am younger this way. 😉

  3. Whatever you call it, happy 10 years! 🙂

  4. Tara, because you are such an inspiration, I have nominated you for the Shine On award. http://wp.me/p38Uaw-9A. Much love to you and your family.

  5. Beautiful account. Happy Anniversary, Happy Birthday, Happy Life, Tara!

  6. Saloni said:

    Every person in the world is not able to have the moments u had so celebrate your birthday/anniversary always with a big smile….i thank god for giving u the life u have becoz a lot of others don’t even “have” loved ones around them ur in a much better spot god bless u keep smiling 🙂

    • I will forever keep smiling. I never doubt, nor take for granted, the luck and love I have been given.

      It was wonderful to hear from you. Thank you so much for taking time to leave your kind comment.


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