Saturday, May 21, 2011

2011 AHA Heart and Stroke Walk

I have to admit. I have never participated in one of those fundraising walks before. I never wanted to bother with raising any money or taking the time to participate in the walk. That changed for me this year. It became more personal to me. I'm not sure why it hasn't before. My grandpa had a stroke. My aunt needed open heart surgery. We've had several family members with cancer. I guess it took having a good friend of mine having a stroke at a very young age for it to really hit home for me. Colleen and I have been friends for over 15 years and she had a stroke at the beginning of the year at the age of 46. Even though our friendship had gotten to the point that we didn't see each other very much because of our busy work and family schedules, we have always made a point to see each other to celebrate our birthdays. Her birthday was in March and I desperately wanted to celebrate it with her. I didn't see her at all while she was in the hospital so it was my first time seeing her after the stroke. She is doing so much better than they expected at one point but it is hard to see her with her paralyzed right arm and not be able to have a real conversation with her. I took dinner and a birthday cake to her home and spent some time talking to her and showing her my photo album from the last year. She was so happy to see me.

Southwest Washington Medical Center--now PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center--has always made a big investment into getting lots of people to participate in the Heart and Stroke Walk. We almost always have the most corporate participation and fundraising for the Oregon and Southwest Washington portion of the walk. This year they dedicated our participation to Colleen so I decided that I was going to participate. Dr. Djergaian's goal was to get Colleen to a point that she could participate in the walk this year and she did. She wasn't able to make it the whole 3 miles but she did pretty well.

Chris decided to join me today. It became personal for him this week too. Bill's mom had open heart surgery on Wednesday to have two of her heart valves repaired. The surgery was a success--unfortunately, Thursday morning we discovered that she had had a stroke during the surgery. She has been in ICU since then. We are hoping that she can be transferred to the stepdown unit soon and be able to start stroke rehab once she gets recovered from her heart surgery a little more. But there are a lot of unknowns for us right now. Not knowing if she will ever be able to go home. And even if she does go home, she will lose the independence that she values so much because she will need much more care.

Sometimes it is hard to know what God's plan is for us. Bill and I are at peace with what has happened and we have always know that some day she would need for us to take care of her. We were relieved when she moved to be near us so that we could do it more easily. It is still hard to see someone you love suffering. We don't know what the future will bring as far as how much function she will be able to get back. We just know that our lives are definitely going to change in a big way and are praying that we are up for the challenge.

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