Sunday, April 1, 2012

A is for aneurysm

My 2012 A to Z Challenge words — Created by Wordle.net
Welcome Blogging from A to Z Challenge April 2012 friends — new and old.

My game plan for the month is to use this challenge to work on my essay and short memoir skills. I've noted my posts get much shorter later in the alphabet.

I wrote my first memoir in the second grade A Book About Me. Years later as a journalist, I shared other people's stories in newspapers and shared some of my own in a weekly column. This month, I'll share an A to Z story including bits and pieces of my life — some light and some a little heavy.


A is for aneurysm

In another life ...

I've used this phrase a lot over the last six years. It's my short-hand to say, "Something happened. Now it's different."

When the neurologist sketched those first black and white lines on a piece of paper to describe the cause of Jimmy's headaches, I didn't understand how a quarter-sized balloon in an artery would change my life and especially his.

The defect — the weakened wall — in the artery caused the blood to swirl around creating headaches and high blood pressure. The balloon and another artery defect created a difficult situation to address, but the doctors were hopeful.

My sister worked as a photographer at a state crime lab. The dead doctors, as she called them, said Jimmy was lucky. "Most people don't know they have an aneurysm at all," a doctor said. "It's discovered in the autopsy."

The doctors successfully added a stent and titanium coils to stabilize Jimmy's aneurysm, but he never returned home. He never spoke another word out loud, ate a Burger King meal or walked another step. The procedure caused a brain stem stroke, which left him mute and completely paralyzed.

Months later, Jimmy moved his right, middle finger. Some people use that finger to shoot birds at people in anger. He couldn't. I barely saw his finger move. A flat, switch Velcroed to a plastic brace strapped to his arm detected his light touch and triggered the nurse's call light in ICUs, hospitals and nursing homes. This slight movement saved his life on multiple occasions.

People prayed for Jimmy's healing — specifically that he would walk and talk again. I hated to see their disappointment as years passed, but tried to explain that his ability to move his finger, blink and smile were the answer to their prayers. Some couldn't see this answer.

Four years later on the anniversary of his stroke, I stood next to Jimmy's flag-draped coffin greeting friends, relatives and strangers.

Jimmy and me before a special event at the nursing home.

74 comments:

  1. Beautiful, Stacy. I'm really going to enjoy reading your posts this challenge.

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    1. Thanks Laura. I'm excited to see the variety of themes in the blogs I've visited so far.

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  2. Something so small can change a life so much. Nice writing.

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  3. Thank you for sharing this sad part of your life.

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    1. Francene, There are silly parts to share too.

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  4. Thanks for sharing this snippet of real-life...
    you are brave to do so!

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    1. Michelle, thanks for stopping by. There are lots of fun A to Z beginnings today.

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  5. Thanks for sharing this snippet of real-life... you are brave to do so!

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  6. nice A

    here is mine
    http://pa-ul.blogspot.com/search/label/GAC%20A-Z%20Artists

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  7. Stacy - thank you for sharing your stories in the A-Z challenge. You are so brave!

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    1. Karen, Thanks. Lots of silly stories to come.

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  8. Doctors can do so much these days for heart defects but they can't do everything and I'm so sorry to read that they weren't able to do more for Jimmy.
    I’m doing the A to Z Challenge too at A to Z of Nostalgia

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    1. Rosalind, We like to believe that modern medicine can cure all of our ailments, but sometimes it can't. I look forward to your posts.

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  9. Wow, Stacy. What a heart-wrenching post! I'm so sorry you had to endure all of this and that Jimmy's life was cut short. Your work is a beautiful way to keep his memory alive and, no doubt, inspire others.

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    1. Thanks August. Jimmy's life was cut too short. I will begin revisions on the full memoir this month.

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  10. A moving story. You tell it well.

    Teresa

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  11. Hi Stacy! Thank you for sharing about Jimmy.

    Susanne
    PUTTING WORDS DOWN ON PAPER

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    1. Thanks Susanne. I loved you A post today.

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  12. This is amazing. I just love it - the details! Great job.

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  13. Oh, Stacy. I'd known a bit about Jimmy from things you've mentioned, but didn't know how the journey began for the two of you. My heart goes out to you.

    You are definitely showing courage to write this all into a memoir.

    Blessings,

    Beth

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  14. That's terrible. Very courageous of you to share it.

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    1. Tonja, After reading all the comments, I began to worry I was a bit of a Debbie Downer for the challenge with my first post.

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  15. I think your memoir is going to be great. It is obvious you are a very strong woman and I look forward to getting to know you a little more throughout this month!

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    1. Lara, I appreciat the encouragement. All the posts aren't like this one.

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  16. I love your wordle. Those are awesome.

    *hugs*

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    1. They are awesome Donna. A fun way to create artwork for a post too.

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  17. This was such a sad story. I'm so glad he was able to move, even if it was only a little. This was a wonderful post.
    Happy A-Z challenge.

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    1. @November Rain and S.L, Sad is part of life sometimes. We had a lot of fun times, despite the challenges during those four years. In my memoir (in draft form), I share the balance of all of this.

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  18. I enjoy sharing in people's sorrows as well as joys, even if only through blogging.
    God bless.

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    1. Brenda, It is a good way to learn more how how people deal with various issues.

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  19. I enjoyed reading your entry on Marilyn's post yesterday! When I read your entry today, I was moved beyond words. From what you shared, I will be eager to read your memoir in print. As painful as it must have been, I hear beauty in your words. That captivates me. I will be reading every post this month. You are an excellent writer.

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    1. Patricia, Thanks. Doing a month of themed blog posts has been a challenge. Trust me, they get shorter as the month continues. :)

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  20. Thanks so much for sharing Stacy. That can't be easy.

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  21. Thank you for sharing this deeply personal experience. Your faith and sense of humor must have been an amazing blessing for your husband.
    http://gail-baugniet.blogspot.com Theme: A World of Crime

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    1. @Kelley and @Gail - It's easy and it's not to share some stories.

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  23. Your memoir from A-Z. I love the idea! Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your life with me (us). I'm looking forward to the rest of the alphabets, which I'm sure will inspire.

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    1. P.S. Sorry for the deleted comment earlier. My aka is "running-girl" for my running blog. I wanted to chime in as a fellow writer instead. :o)

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    2. Romelle, I've been inspired by all the different themes in this challenge. Now, if I can keep up with commenting, etc.

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  24. You have been through so much, Stacy. I'm sorry the doctors, with all they can do, weren't able to help your Jimmy more. I will look forward to your A to Z posts and hope that there are some better moments in your memoir to balance out the pain.

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    1. Yes Susanna, I begin revisions later this month on my draft. There are some lighter moments like we find in all of our lives.

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  25. I'm so sorry. Thank you for sharing that with us for the challenge.

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  26. Wow, what a moving way to start out your A to Z posts! Thanks for sharing this snippet of your life.

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  27. Stacy, very sorry about Jimmy. Best wishes, Holly

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    1. @Martha, @Jennifer and @ HollyMichael, Thanks for stopping by and reading.

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  28. The photo of you and Jimmy is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing this memoir.

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  29. That's so sad about Jimmy. Thanks for sharing these memories.

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  30. What a sad story. It takes a lot of love and will to hang in there like you did. You are a great woman!

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    1. @Lynda, @SherryE and @Jeremy - Thanks for stopping by.

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  31. You're so right. Too often people find out too late that they have/had an aneurysm. I love your photo, and thank you for sharing such a beautiful story.
    A2ZMommy and What’s In Between

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    1. Tracy, Yes. Having a sister who worked in a morgue helps put many medical situations in perspective.

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  32. That's touching, and sad. Thank you for sharing.

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  33. a sad but touching story. Your memoir must be a poignant read. Hope to read it in print one day.
    Great start to the A-Z!
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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    1. @Rusty and @Nutschell, Thanks for stopping by and reading.

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  34. My sister had an anneurhism (sp?) about 15 years ago, and though she did recover after serious surgery, she is still somewhat affected by it today. Thankfully, not nearly the same as for Jimmy and your family. I am sorry for the tragedy.

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    1. Ron, So glad your sister was able to recover, but I understand the changes after any medical issue can alter one's own life and that of her family.

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  35. You are a very strong lady to go through all that and then re-tell it too. It's very, very sad.

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    1. Catherine, I can't change much of the sad stuff, but I think I'll keep you in mind during my rewrites as I ponder the sad factor.

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  36. Your wordle holds such promise for the month! Looking forward to reading your posts.

    Your *A* selection was brave and bold, and puts your memoir work where it belongs - front and center. Bravo!

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  37. Your post is sad, but touching Stacy. I agree with Cathy's comment that this post holds much promise :)

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    1. Thank you @Cathy and @Coleen. I appreciate your kind words.

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  38. Oh Stacy. Yes, a bit heavy, but inspiring, too.

    Is it awful that I love that picture of you two? Even though he is clearly paralyzed, the love between you shines so brightly.

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  39. I love the love you had for him, Stacy. You are a remarkable woman and I am so thankful you stepped into my life. Mwah!

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  40. Stacy, the memoir posts you write are so moving. I know you are going to find a home for your MIP.

    My father died from an aortic aneurysm. He didn't know it was there, and one morning it ruptured and he was gone 3 hours later. Although Jimmy didn't have a happy ending either, I am glad that the two of you had those extra years together.

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  41. You are such a talented writer. I can't wait to read all your A-Z posts. You kept me right there from your first word to the end. The same with your post for B. A is for you are amazing, B for beautiful.

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  42. From reading this post, I'm guessing you have an important story to tell. I wish you well with your memoir.

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  43. "I hated to see their disappointment as years passed, but tried to explain that his ability to move his finger, blink and smile were the answer to their prayers. Some couldn't see this answer."

    Wow. That speaks volumes and yet, like Beth, it's not easy to articulate with words.

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  44. Stacy, I resonate with you on many levels. Thank you for your courage and eloquence. A huge loss and hard experiences, but so much growth. Although if one had a choice, s/he would prefer a loved one to stay. I have a similar picture like this, except the one who was hooked up to the ventilator was my newborn back in '96.

    Look forward to hearing about your memoir. Sending love and goodwill, Sue

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