Vol. 9, No. 4
Priscilla's Page *Editor's Note*
~ Page 8 ~
In May 2006, my article was published, "When Our Bodies Begin to Betray Us." I had no idea I would be writing a follow-up to that article because of a rather frightening personal experience. We do not know from one second to the next what is going to happen to us!
This is a direct quote from the May 2006 article. "When our bodies begin to betray us and we ignore or deny that betrayal, we pay in pain and suffering! Our bodies never tell a lie about our true physical condition. We must make some adjustments as we advance in years and experience other changes in our physical condition."
On February 7, 2007, at the ripe old age of 57, and at the whopping weight of 107, I suffered a mini-stroke! I had none of the risk factors, but I had several of the symptoms of a stroke. I was soon to learn that mini-strokes are just as dangerous as full blown strokes and no symptoms are ever to be ignored. I had ignored the symptoms I experienced the week before!
According to the healthcare professionals, the risk factors for a stroke include obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, family history of stroke, not exercising, alcoholism and smoking. The symptoms of a stroke include nausea, a sudden severe headache, dizziness, blurred vision, numbness, pain and weakness.
In my case, I had the symptoms of numbness, pain, weakness, and I also experienced tingling in the right side of my face, arm and leg. I learned the medical name for a mini-stroke is Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). This term was being used while I was being treated in the emergency room and I did not have a clue what they were talking about! They ran every test that is normally run for diagnosing a stroke. They were all negative except the MRI. According to my neurologist, it showed the blood supply was either cut off or blocked to a small artery in my brain.
I had always thought a stroke, was a stroke, was a stroke--and if you ever had one--you either died or were left helpless. Thanks be to God I am living proof of that faulty thinking! My TIA involved my sensory nerves and not any of my motor nerves. I never lost my ability to walk, talk, think or move any of my limbs. I experienced extreme numbness, tingling, pain and weakness on my right side only.
Some have asked what I was doing when this happened. Well, I was out running a 26-mile marathon. Not hardly! I was sound asleep; it was 4:00 a.m., and this stroke woke me up! Why are strokes sometimes associated with vigorous activity? I told my neurologist two days after it happened I had been in bed for the most part. He told me quite emphatically not to do that because I could not prevent a stroke by staying in bed!
In my most recent office visit, he told me I was doing well and to come back in three months for what will hopefully be my last time to see him. Then he said, "I am not the kind of doctor that you want to be seeing on a regular basis." To repeat a statement we hear often these days, "I know that's right!"
I have talked to others who have experienced far worse deficits or lasting effects. One person had 10 or more strokes in the same region of the brain following surgery. The ability to walk and write had to be relearned and there was a problem with vision. This person is now getting ready to walk in a 2-day event to raise funds for breast cancer!
Another person was sitting in her living room drinking a cup of coffee when her stroke occurred. She was hospitalized for several days, underwent therapy, and six months after the stroke, her doctor has recently given her permission to drive again. She is still dealing with the effects in her right leg, but she is determined to keep pressing on!
In my May 2006 article, I mentioned Moses being one of the few who did not experience physical deterioration. "Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died. His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor abated" (Deuteronomy 34:7). Caleb needs to be added to that elite number. He said, "And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in" (Joshua 14:10-11).
Without a doubt, this has been a life changing experience. It has been life changing because I will be taking life saving medications for the rest of my life! My risk for a future stroke will never go away! That alone is a most sobering new reality! Statistics tell us that our bodies reach their physical peak at about the age of twenty-six and then begin to weaken or fail until we finally die.
My body has spoken and I am listening every day. My wake-up call came at the age of 57, and I have become most aware of just how frail I am! In Psalm 39 David asked the Lord to make him know his end and the measure of his days that he would know how frail he was. Then he said, "When with rebukes You correct man for iniquity, You make his beauty melt away like a moth; surely every man is vapor" (Psalm 39:11).
My loving spiritual family has offered some good counsel from their own health issues. I have been told I can recover from this stroke if I will listen to my body. I have been told to take care and be aware of what my body is saying because recovery is not instant. I have been told I need to give my body 10 days for every day I was made to "be still" in order to recover. I have been told I can live with what my body is saying when I consider the alternative.
I wish I could say like the apostle Paul, "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am to be content" (Philippians 4:11). I have read that verse so many times, quoted it in numerous classes and presentations, and referenced it in articles just like this one. However, in view of my experience, I am not there yet! All I can say is I am still learning. I want to learn what Paul had learned, but I have a long way to go!
Space does not permit expanding on the spiritual lessons I am learning from this incident. I am learning to a fuller degree:
I must continue to acknowledge God's divine control.
I must allow God to perfect me through this experience.
I must continue to yield to the will and discipline of God.
I must continue to conform spiritually in thought, action and purpose.
I must continue to die daily to self.
I must continue to be nourished in the words of faith.
We need to allow God to fulfill his purpose for creating us. Our faith, trust, reliance and confidence in his divine plan will shape our daily lives in any and all situations. God keeps all of his promises. In one of his numerous promises he said, "Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me" (Psalm 50:15).
Life is that priceless gift from God. We are to honor his presence, his power and his protection. Every day we live brings us one day closer to our last. "Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and fades away; he flees like a shadow and does not continue. Since his days are determined, the number of his months is with You; You have appointed his limits, so that he cannot pass" (Job 14:1-2, 5).