A Letter of Gratitude

I returned to work full-time this week and I wrote my colleagues a letter.

Posted Dec 29, 2019

This past week, I returned to work full-time.  The path from when I had my stroke to this day was an arduous journey; just as with my psychiatric illness, recovery was anything but linear.  Monday morning, I sent this e-mail to my team at work - the people with whom I work closely every day.

With Gratitude.

One year, six months and 28 days ago, my life changed in an instant.

By now, those of you who were working with me on this terrific team last year are aware of what happened.  For those of you who had not yet joined the team, it was over Memorial Day weekend of 2018 that I suffered a stroke.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash
Source: Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

My left arm and leg were affected.  I spent five days in a medical hospital and then I was transferred to, as we in the business say, an SAR or, sub-acute rehab.  I am fortunate to live near Burke, one of the best in the Northeast.

Once I landed there and was more thoroughly evaluated, we found that the stroke affected specific parts of my brain as well.

I heard a lot during the three weeks I was at Burke about “the brain forming new neural pathways.” All the therapists—physical, occupational, and cognitive—were the best.  Therapy was intensive; six days a week, three to four hours a day.

When I was discharged, I was still using a walker, but with improved strength and balance. Physical therapy continued on an outpatient schedule and I was able to graduate to cane, then to walking on my own.  I had faith my body would heal, but I didn’t know if my brain would heal as well.

I continued to be fortunate in locating talented professionals to guide me through this unknown territory.  I found a rehabilitative neuropsychologist who specialized (having over 30 years of experience) in treating individuals with TBI or traumatic brain injuries.  After exhaustive testing and talking, she told me she had confidence I could return to my previous level of functioning, using those aforementioned newly formed neural pathways.  She has guided me every step of the way.

I have so much gratitude. Being at Burke, I saw firsthand how much worse this stroke could have been.  I’m grateful for my family and friends and all the consummate professionals who literally walked alongside me with each step.

 Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash
Source: Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash

My gratitude extends to everyone on this team at UHC.  They covered for me during the months I was out, for your patience and understanding as I relearned Community Care and ICUE.  For each of you who stopped whatever you were doing and took the time to screen share and walk me through my questions.  For making me laugh when I wanted to cry.  For encouraging me to hang in there.  For having confidence in me, when I wasn’t sure.

Thank you.  Today, I’m back full-time.   

Andrea