I have written quite a bit about my stroke, the impacts and the things I am doing for recovery. I have written about the ups and downs, the steps forward and the emotions involved. Everyone has been so incredible and generous with words of encouragement that have really helped me get through this. There were times when I was really down and felt so alone, and then I would read a small comment or wonderful email from someone and know that while I had to do a lot of things on my own, I was not alone.
It is very easy to take something like this and make it all about me, but I would not have made it where I am in these four weeks if it had not been for Ulco. I am not even sure I would be alive. I have known Ulco for almost fifteen years and we know each other maybe better than anyone else knows us. While Ulco has always been there for me and helped me in ways I can’t begin to describe, the past weeks he has been my rock. I have leaned on him literally and figuratively. He all but carried me to the car to get me to the hospital immediately after the stroke. He navigated hospitals, nurses, doctors and medication runs. He has lifted me out of bed, put me in a wheelchair, showered and dressed me. He made my food, sorted medication when I got home and cleaned up after me when I got sick. And I know him well enough to know how difficult that must have been.
There are so many things I have feared about getting older, and although I am only forty-four, many of those things have come to pass. That fear of the feeling of being helpless, of needing someone to bathe or dress me has always scared me. I worked in a hospital many years ago and never wanted to be one of “those people”. Suddenly, I was. But never once did Ulco make me feel helpless or weak. He helped me in every way and always let me keep my dignity, even when there was almost none to keep. And never once did he complain.
Since I have been home, he has been my biggest cheerleader and often the person who takes the brunt of my anger, depression and frustration. He gets to experience the mood swings first hand, and I am certain they aren’t very fun. I know it has to be hard for him, watching everything happen and not knowing what to do or what to expect next. If our roles were reversed, I would be a nervous wreck and can only hope that I would be as kind and patient as Ulco has been. I hope for both of us that we never get the opportunity to find out.
I want to say thank you to Ulco. Thanks for being my family, my best friend, my support when I couldn’t stand, and for all the other countless ways you have been there for me not only these last weeks, but since I have known you. You saved my life and you were there with me when I was confused and scared and not even sure if I would live or not. You were with me in some of the worst moments in my life. Thank you for staying. Thank you for everything you have done and are doing. Thank you for being who you are.