What Happened Next

February 19, 2014

I’ve been sitting here like a deer in the headlights for the past few weeks not knowing what to say after I dropped a bomb all over the internets that I had a stroke.

I mean, what do you even say?  Hi, I now sleep with cognac next to the bed because it can open blood vessels in the event of a stroke and save your life?

The truth is I can barely remember anything about last winter, most of it is a haze. The morning after it happened I woke up completely shocked that I woke up at all. I opened my eyes, stared at the ceiling and thought, ‘Oh shit.’ Too scared to try and move in case I was paralyzed, I laid there with my head throbbing into the pillow. Finally I tried to bend my index finger and, when it moved, make a fist with my right hand. It was super weak and barely closed, but I did it. ‘Well there you have it, I’M FINE,’ I said to myself, ‘Might as well log into that conference call.’ What can I say? Old habits die hard.

When I tried to swing my legs over the side of the bed I knew I was in trouble, but still railed against it. My head was pounding so hard and I fell into the wall when I tried to make it down the hall to my office. The right side of my body just kind of hung there and I was pretty disoriented, but managed to get the number right for the call and join in. From there it became obvious that something was very wrong with my brain. When we’re on these calls, I feed a lot of information to my client via quick messaging and she refers her client directly to me on areas that are my subject matter. It is quick, sharp discourse, and information I deal with regularly and have known for years. It’s hard to describe what was happening, but this is my best attempt: a question would be directed to me and I could actually see the train of thought in my brain moving to where the information should be – but when it got there, there was nothing. My memory had been wiped clean.

Don’t ask me how that call ended because, quite frankly, I can’t remember. What I do vividly recall is being in a cold sweat, panicked, desperately trying to remember things I had known for years that were now gone. It was the beginning of many wake up calls for me.

It didn’t take long to realize I couldn’t remember my sister-in-law’s name, any of her sisters’ names, the password to get into my bank account or how to use the key to open my garage. In fact, I couldn’t even remember how to start my car. I couldn’t understand the gear shift, how to get the car to go in reverse or how to adjust the side mirrors. Everything was foreign. I sat in my car and cried quietly, terrified, thinking about how my grandmother and some of her sisters – all otherwise healthy – had died from aneurysms with no warning.

I’d like to tell you the rest was a cake walk, that I recovered in a few months and everything is right back to normal, but that’s not true. The truth is, I’m a lot better than I was this time last year. The truth is, I’m a different person than I was this time last year. The truth is, I’m still working on it.

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  • Reply Danielle March 7, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Reading this was hard for me. We talked off and on during the year – but not enough. I wish I had been in LA. There physically with you. Love you so much. You are such a beautiful soul and I’m so proud of you for many things, and thankful you are writing again. And that I found it this week what the hell? How lame am I that I missed it? I blame feedly. And winter. And allergies. Xoxo

    • Reply This Free Bird March 7, 2014 at 5:46 pm

      Okay so this made me cry. It was a tough year and I didn’t say much about it to anyone. I didn’t want to be a whiner, I was scared, I didn’t want anyone to look at or treat me differently. Even now, I’m nervous that I let it out but I think it was the right thing. You’ve always been a great friend, D. I appreciate you so much.

      As for feedly: I don’t even know what it is or how it works. Who’s lame now? Hahahaha!

  • Reply Closet Fashionista March 4, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Wow, this just showed up in my feed (have to read the other article too.) I am so glad you’re doing better, so brave of you to write about it on the blog. I still can’t believe it happened but am so happy things are getting better, even if it feels too slowly at some times! <3

    • Reply This Free Bird March 5, 2014 at 12:11 am

      Thank you so much. Everything in its own time 🙂

  • Reply Kristin W March 4, 2014 at 2:14 am

    Thank you so much for opening up and sharing such a deeply personal story. There is something so honest and relatable about reading about real-life shit, even if I can’t actually relate or understand. Thank you for being so brave and telling your story.

    • Reply This Free Bird March 4, 2014 at 2:22 am

      Thanks, Kristin. I really don’t know what else to say but thank you.

  • Reply Judy Carpenter February 22, 2014 at 11:29 pm

    My weight loss surgery is Monday. I can’t think it will be difficult like what you have been through. I can say that your courage and commitment to improving will be a beacon for me when I am recovering. I’ve always admired a lot of things about you. This just gives me one more thing to admire. If you ever need to talk let me know and I’ll send my phone number. And my shoulder is always ready.

    • Reply This Free Bird March 4, 2014 at 2:22 am

      Judy, I’m going to email you. I’m sorry I just saw this now. Thank you for your kind words and I hope you are on the mend!!

  • Reply missgiven February 21, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    You are doing great!

    • Reply This Free Bird February 21, 2014 at 10:41 pm

      Thanks! I’m doing my best 🙂

  • Reply Carey February 20, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    Dude. You blow me away. I can’t pretend to know exactly who you are or what you’ve been through, but I will say you’ve maintained this sense of humor that is, to me, proof of your strength. You’re inspiring, thoughtful, and brave despite what would have made most of us curl up in a ball. (Full permission to still do so, whenever!)

    Keep taking care of yourself. And thank you for sharing this. It’s refreshing, honest, and important.

    • Reply This Free Bird February 21, 2014 at 1:51 am

      Thanks, Carey. Many days spent in a ball if I’m being honest. Likely more to come. But also many days ON MY BIKE and for that I am extremely grateful.

  • Reply Courtney February 20, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    I can’t even imagine. Seriously, I’m at a total loss for words and don’t want to write anything silly or cliched because that’s just such an incredible and scary situation…

    Courtney ~ Sartorial Sidelines

    • Reply This Free Bird February 21, 2014 at 1:48 am

      It’s okay, it is freaking crazy. I still can’t believe it.

  • Reply Ruthy T. (@DiscoveryStreet) February 20, 2014 at 5:27 am

    I’m so glad you’re sharing your story…Lord knows life can change in an instant; what happened to you is such an eye opening example. Youth means nothing. Crazy s*#t can come out of no where. I’m not sure how your health is now, but I will be praying for you Carrie.

    • Reply This Free Bird February 20, 2014 at 5:41 am

      Holler back on that one. Things I used to think were important I couldn’t give two rips about now. Thanks for the prayers, Ruthy – I’ll take all you’ve got. xo

  • Reply Jen February 20, 2014 at 5:15 am

    A day at a time. A post at a time. Do it your way. And however it feels right. It’s always really hard to understand what going through a life changing event does to a person. Until you’ve been through it. But I think you’re figuring what it’s all about just fine. Living. It’s really all that matters in the end.

    • Reply This Free Bird February 20, 2014 at 5:40 am

      Amen to that. At the end of the day it’s got to be on my terms. I’m still learning the value of saying no and not stretching myself so thin. What kind of life is that anyway?

  • Reply Kristin February 20, 2014 at 2:49 am

    I won’t say anything cliche, but you are damn brave for putting it out there. And I’m sending prayers up that things continue to heal for you!

    • Reply This Free Bird February 20, 2014 at 5:39 am

      Thank you, Kristin. I guess one good thing about throwing it out there after a year is no one really remembers this blog anymore. LOL!

  • Reply Jen February 20, 2014 at 1:05 am

    I’m blown away when I read about what you went through. And I feel badly that I didn’t know, even though I can understand why you didn’t share all of this over the webs sooner. I can’t imagine what it was like and how it has changed everything. Thank you for sharing your experience in such an honest way.

    • Reply This Free Bird February 20, 2014 at 1:15 am

      Jen, I was in such a state of denial and disbelief it’s hard to describe. I never thought I’d ever share any if it, but you know how purging has been a big theme in my life this past year. It feels good to let some of it out. Thanks for listening/reading and supporting me. I’m so glad we’ve gotten to know each other a bit better.

  • Reply Celia February 20, 2014 at 12:55 am

    Oh Carrie–Im so sorry this happened to you. Thank you for sharing. Health issues are the scariest so please know you have a cheerleader rooting for you from Boston during your journey. Sending light and good thoughts!

    • Reply This Free Bird February 20, 2014 at 1:12 am

      Thank you so much, Celia. That means everything to me!

  • Reply Claire Kiefer February 19, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    Your new blog looks beautiful, and you’re doing a fantastic job writing about a difficult subject.

    • Reply This Free Bird February 19, 2014 at 11:43 pm

      Thank you, Claire. For the blog 411, but also for the encouragement. Getting this out in a meaningful way is therapeutic for me in a lot of different ways. I appreciate your support (and Meal’s – pass the hotdog buns). xo

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