Mia R. - Diagnosed at age 29
My story begins with the butterfly shaped rash on my cheeks that was misdiagnosed. After creams that didn’t work and progressive joint pain, I was finally diagnosed with lupus in 2008. Treated by a rheumatologist, things went fairly well until January 9, 2017 when I was blindsided by a massive hemorrhagic stroke that left me with right side paralysis, partial blindness and severe damage to the language center of my brain. Five days later an emergency craniectomy saved my life. Prior to that fateful day, I was a nurse, student, and known around town for my unique crochet designs.
Determination, extensive therapy, and support from family and friends has brought me to where I am today. My mother played a unique role in my rehab. Early on she showed me how to be grateful for what I had left rather than focus on what I had lost. During my 52-day stay in the hospital she taught me how to write again and after my discharge, we sent “thank you” cards to the long list of people who had been so kind to us. She wrote the notes and showed me how to sign my name on each card with my non-dominant hand. After a few nights, I thanked her for the challenge and told her how working on the cards made each day feel special. By mid-April, I made my first gratitude list of 10 things I was grateful for and have kept a gratitude journal ever since.
Gratitude also led us to co-write The Stroke That Touched My Heart in 2019. The book captures our year-long rehab journey through 2017, and is a testament to the belief that learning to be grateful in all things can improve health. While it might seem inconceivable to be grateful living with lupus or any debilitating disease, there is nothing to lose by giving it a try. Two years after the stroke I began crocheting again with my left hand and left knee, something I would not have even tried had I not failed my driving evaluation to get my license reinstated. Four years since the stroke, I still don’t have my driver’s license but I have a caregiver that drives me where I need to go. I continue to be grateful in all things and hope that my story inspires you to do the same.