December, 10th, 2003 was a day that would change my life forever. I had just started working for an engineering firm and I was a Test Engineer with a promising future ahead of me. Six months later I had a blood clot (AVM) burst in the back of my head. I remember next to nothing about it. I don’t remember waking up, and still don’t remember almost 20 years later. I had just gone to bed, my 1 year-old daughter was in her crib next to my bed. I remember feeling the most intense pain in the back of my head. That was all she wrote. I remember hearing the flatline and then I just fell asleep. No bright lights or anything, it was very peaceful. I wasn’t expected to survive, but somehow I did.
After a month and a half I was able to go home, but I was not the same person. I had to learn the every day things like walking all over again. I had to have my mom give me showers because I was too weak to do it myself. I’ll just say that it was awkward. Luckily, those memories aren’t with me. Neither is most of my memories. They were all erased somehow. That was difficult to accept. I still lose most of my memories to this day. One of the side effects I deal with. Most of my muscles were gone and I couldn’t stand up on my own. I weighed 135lbs when I left the hospital. I weigh 250lbs now. Luckily I’m tall so it doesn’t look as bad. I spend many years recovering, different physical and occupational therapies, different medicines, injections into my head, I have extra parts in me, I couldn’t turn my head for years I was a living stiff.
Eventually, I improved. I still live with some deficits though. Always in pain, my memory doesn’t work, slow processing speed in my brain, a learning disability, I had to see a neuropsychologist to deal with PTSD, I was an experiment for years. I had to accept the fact that I could no longer do the physical activities that I loved doing. I couldn’t return to the work I previously did. I have many limitations, physical and mental. I felt sorry for myself for many years. Eventually, my doctors found a combination of medicines that would give me the best quality of life.
My recovery plateaued about 7 years later. I began to ask myself what I wanted to do with my life, instead of just laying on the couch and watching TV all day. I had to find new interests. I came to be interested what was happening around the world, reading about what was going on around the world. After my divorce in 2019, I decided to go back to college and get my degree in International Relations. I wasn’t expected to be able to learn again, so this is an amazing accomplishment for me. I have to admit that it took many hours per day, 7 days a week to keep up my 3.8 GPA. I graduated in August 2022 with my degree and Magna Cum Lauda. And I’m 51 years old, and I have two children. Needless to say, it was difficult to sacrifice my time with my kids and my fiancé. They all understand and know what I have been working for. There were/are many who doubted I could do it. Them and others who think I have been faking my disability. It feels good to accomplish something like this, and proving people wrong is just a bonus plan.
After a long search, I think I found a career as an insurance agent. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I lost half of my disability income in 2021, so it was imperative that I find a job quickly. I am technically being forced to go back to work. Whether I can actually work and stay employed is another matter. I had to find a career that I enjoy, am good at, and can physically do the job, that’s why I chose to be an insurance agent. There is flexibility and I’m not on my feet all day. I am very good at talking to people. I have been in training for a couple months and now it’s time to get to the meat of the job, finding clients. It is a struggle mostly because I have no friends or family near me. Which brings me to why I’m here now. I have to forge my own path and take control of my own future. I am very good at writing and telling stories. My story is one of survival and tenacity. I hope to make a mark in the insurance industry, freelance writing, public speaking, and be an inspiration to other whose lives have been turned upside down, and give my life some meaning. I hope to engage with people on a personal and professional level, using this as a medium.
I have traveled all over the world, I liked to go snow skiing, water skiing, play sports every once in a while, workout (not very often), do as much physical work as I wanted, and play with my kids. All of that went away in an instant. Everything changed and it was extremely difficult to get through. Even with the support of family and friends. Most of my friends now did not know me prior to my accident, they have only know me as I am now. That’s hard to imagine. I have no real connections or a network here in Arizona that can help with my new career, no one to just hang out with. Except my fiancé of course. She is of great comfort and supports what I want to do and who I want to be. I am a very unique individual and look forward to whatever opportunities lie ahead.