Bucky broke my heart because after I got out of the hospital, and we had finally found a house, he couldn’t come live with us. Why, you ask? Because he had tried to kill my mom’s cat Phoebe. Phoebe was enough of a spaz, so that was a no-no. Fortunately, in the time that Bucky and I had lived with my brother and his wife, he and their cat Cooter had gotten to a point where they could tolerate each other. I believe “tolerance” was Cooter’s highest form of affection. Mike could force Cooter to love him in small doses, but as soon as it was over he would shoot out of Mike’s arms. Anyway, when I got hurt Mike and Tiff immediately stepped up to offer their home to Bucky. They love Bucky…there’s really no way you can’t, as long as you don’t mind earning scars from those talons. I have several from our years together.
When I first got to visit with everyone after I got out of the hospital, they were all in Tiff’s parents’ townhouse. They’d had to carry me up the stairs to the living room, and Mike brought Bucky up in his carrier to see me after dinner. Even with his favorite Greenies treats, Bucky refused to come out of the carrier or even look at me. I cried in the car on the way home, sad because my baby hated me. Then Mike called, knowing I would be upset, to tell me a story about his first cat Tiger doing something similar and breaking his heart. It was just the situation Bucky was in, and someday we’d be back to normal.
Fortunately, 11 years later, that’s very true. Now when I see Bucky he plops down to show me his belly, his way of showing affection, and rubs on my hand and lets me love on him until he’s had enough. Many times I’ve been over at Mike and Tiff’s and he’s jumped up next to me on the sofa, a true sign he loves me. There can’t be many people there for that to happen, though.
And on the same day that funny boy turned thirteen, I went swimming with my nephew Christopher (Bucky’s brother…it’s a strange family). This was a really big deal for me! It was only the second time I’d been in a pool since I got hurt (something I loved doing in my past life), and the first time to really stay in the pool and swim around. It was also the first time I finally wore the bikini I bought last year…and I was about thirty pounds thinner than the last time I’d worn a bikini!
I had a great time playing and swimming around with my nephew, and I learned something about my injured brain that I never could have discovered until I got in the pool. Before I got hurt it was second nature to me – I’d go under water and I’d immediately blow through my nose, to keep water from going up my nose. Well, that second nature is not only long gone, but it’s incredibly difficult for me to blow out my nose once under water. That pool was basically one giant neti pot for me, because more often than not, when my head went under I would be unable to blow out my nose. I’d try, but water would go up my nose and I would have to resurface, letting the water drain back out. I kept forcing myself to try though, and I’ll keep on doing it…I’ve had to retrain my brain before, it’s just been awhile. I’ll retrain that sucker to do this too! I don’t know how long it’s going to take though…and even Texas’s pool weather goes away soon, although we do get to keep ours longer.
Yesterday, October 30, marked 7 years since my first date with my husband. Seven years since I opened the door to lay eyes on him for the first time in over two decades. We were reminiscing last night about that first date. I had been sitting at my computer desk (like I am now), knowing he would be there soon, and feeling a swarm of butterflies in my stomach. He remembers seeing me sitting at that desk through the front door, and watching me walk towards it after he rang the bell. What ensued was the best, and easiest, first date either of us had ever had. We already knew how much we had in common, and as we ate dinner and chatted the list of similarities only grew. Later he showed me just how comfortable he was with my disabilities by giving me a foot rub and intertwining my injured fingers with his, so he could hold my hand. He was fascinated by the spasticity, but very sympathetic at the same time, wanting to do whatever he could to make it better. I could tell he was special.
The next night, Halloween (7 years ago today), he came back over and we bonded even more, cackling over the inane genius that is “Freddy Got Fingered.” He continued coming over every opportunity he got, and we quickly realized that something had been put in motion by a force greater than us. We had met the person we were supposed to be with…we were on a preplanned track and now it was really going. Less than one month after that first date he told me he loved me, and one month after that he proposed on Christmas. It was a magical courtship and it’s been a wonderful seven years. I just can’t wait to see what the next seven, or 107, years bring us!
The final reason that today, October 31, is so important to me is this: eleven years ago today I was finally released from the hospital after 134 days in a row, two massive hemorrhaged brain aneurysms, and four brain surgeries (ALL WITH MY MOTHER)! I still remember that morning, and the sleepless night before. Four years before Scott came over to take me out for our first date, I lay in my hospital bed, knowing that I would finally be released the next day. I would finally get to try to move on with life, and I would finally be reunited with my pugs Ozzy Boo and Delmar, whose picture had stayed on the wall of my hospital room, reminding me what I was working towards. All through that night, however, I laid awake paranoid. It took me forever to get to sleep because every twinge I felt in my head, or change in pressure, caused a panic. I was just sure a third aneurysm would strike that night, forever keeping me from leaving the hospital and being normal again.
What I couldn’t know that night was that in four years what seemed impossible would actually happen – a (somewhat) normal man, a good man who had not known me before I got hurt (not including those childhood years) would fall in love with me and want to spend the rest of his life with me. All the work ahead of me would not be in vain…I would see my dream come true.
Mom and I were stopped by a sweet woman in Kroger the other day…on Bucky’s birthday. She said “I’m so sorry to ask, but did she (indicating me) have a stroke?” She apologized if she was being rude, and we quickly reassured her that she wasn’t. I love sharing my story now. She asked because she was on the phone with her boyfriend, who was recovering from a stroke, and she was trying to get him through therapy. I told her that I’d had not only one, but two, caused by brain aneurysms. She was trying to get her boyfriend to talk on the phone with her because he was dealing with aphasia in the wake of his stroke, something I didn’t have to deal with too much. I wish I could have talked to her more, but I’m so glad she stopped me while she was on the phone with her boyfriend, because I might have been able to offer encouragement to him. She was telling him, as I was standing there, that he should see this girl she was talking to - she’d had two strokes and was up and walking with her cane. I said “You got this, you’ll get better!” I was so happy that God put that lady in my path, so I could share my story with someone at the perfect time they needed it. I only wish I could talk to her more. If you’re the lady from Kroger in Texas City…let’s talk!!
No matter how dire it looks, lying in your hospital bed or trudging through rehab, you too will see normality again, and in time you’ll see your dreams come true. It takes hard work and faith...but don’t give up!
Now everyone go have a fun-filled and safe Halloween!!! I just got back from the best Halloween I’ve had in 10 years, going around the neighborhood with my nephew!