Have you ever had a nightmare where you are trying to tell someone about something and no matter what you do, they can’t hear you? You scream and you scream but you make no sound. You can’t move. You’re trapped inside a concrete shell. That’s a fraction of what a stroke feels like. The worst thing is, in a nightmare you know it’s a nightmare and that you’ll wake up. With a stroke, you don’t know that you’ll ever wake up again.
Last year, I suffered a massive stroke at work and I was quickly taken by ambulance to St. Luke’s. The neurologist on call administered the clot-busting drug, but even so, my recovery has been nothing short of remarkable.
While I was at work and in the ambulance, I drifted in and out of consciousness. When I was awake, I tried desperately to communicate with people but I couldn’t. I was alone, stuck in my faulty mind with no way out. People bent over and around me but I didn’t know what was happening. To say I was frightened and confused is an understatement.
And then suddenly, I was at the emergency room and there was Bonnie. I know there were many wonderful people helping me but all I remember is Bonnie with her dark curly hair and her kind eyes. No matter what was going on, she was there. When they took me away from her for tests, she told me I would come back to her and I did. It seemed that every time I opened my eyes she was at my side telling me I was going to be fine. Such compassion, such kindness.
At the worst moment of my life, Bonnie Lunsford was the only constant I could hold on to. She told me I was going to be okay and I believed her. Crazy isn’t it, that a total stranger can give you hope? But she did. She was my anchor to this world and believe me, I was hanging on for dear life. No matter what, she held my hand and soothed my fears. Honestly, strange as it sounds, it’s like she infused the courage to fight, to come back to this world intact; she infused it into me every time she touched me. She kept me strong while the drug worked its magic; she kept me strong until my family was allowed to see me.
I hope you know that as a hospital, St. Luke’s has much to be proud of: the machines that helped the doctor diagnose me, the medicine that restored me, not only to life but to the kind of life I want to lead, the incredible efficiency and teamwork between the ambulance and the emergency room staff, not to mention the neurologist, whose quick actions dissolved the clot so that the brain damage was minimized. Without all those things, I wouldn’t be able to walk or speak, let alone write this letter. For those reasons alone I would recommend St. Luke’s to anyone needing a hospital.
But medicine and machines are only part of the equation. The neurologist, when he saw me the next day, told me that from the look of me it was as if I hadn’t had a stroke, that the stroke medicine shouldn’t have worked as well as it did, and that I was better than anyone thought I would be.
You don’t need me to tell you what made the difference, what took my recovery from merely successful to amazing. Not what, but who. It was the people who come to work for you every day and who give everything they have to their patients. It was the neurologist, the ambulance drivers, the other nurses and doctors in the Emergency Room, in the ICU and on the 5th floor. But most of all it was Bonnie Lunsford, holding on to me, keeping me strong.