In 2016, I was diagnosed with endocarditis, which in turn caused a major stroke. The situation is entirely my own fault; I felt I deserved little to no sympathy. Post-stroke hemiplegia realization takes time to set in. My hope began to slip away. The family who had been staying around the clock with me had to drive 90 minutes home to be home with my sick mother. Left with nothing but my thoughts, many miles from home, and in the last grasping tendrils of a major decade-long opioid addiction, and slowly realizing the consequences of said addiction; my mental health became as broken as my body felt. Feeling like I had hit “rock bottom”, and there was no hope of getting better I realized that the divine intervention I’d so desperately called for wasn’t immediate; it’s only in hindsight I’ve put the timing of the events together.
Feeling abandoned, I’d strike up a conversation with everyone who would pop in my room. My whole UKHC team gave me wonderful care, but Marco was the one who went above and beyond. He was the catalyst in helping me rekindle the flame of hope and to believe. I found purpose in my strange, new existence. Marco would sing along with me when I would blare my Guns n’ Roses music, and talked/treated me like a close friend would. After 20+ days stuck inside with no direct sunlight or fresh air, and my lack of visitors I wasn’t always a pleasant patient. Unfortunately, Marco got the worst of it all.
Marco did the most wonderful and thoughtful thing for me. He got approval to come in on his day off and surprise me with the best day I could ask for. He came in with non-hospital shampoo and hair gel and helped me clean up. It was the first time I resembled my old self with actual clothes on, shaved, groomed, stylin’ and profilin’. He gave me the grand tour of UK HealthCare facility, took me to the bookstore and bought a book for me, followed by Starbucks lunch and coffee in the sunshine! On the way back he even treated me to a couple of Snickers candy bars from the vending machines. I offered to reimburse him for my purchases, but Marco would not accept my money.
After a day of excitement, I was left by myself in my room again. I started to reflect on Marco’s continued unconditional kindness, and I began to cry. I was overwhelmed with happiness. The care I received from Marco was crucial to my recovery. He’d never just “talk”, he always encouraged me in all my concurrent recoveries. From encouraging me to finish my degree to telling me he knew that he believed I was more capable than a lot of addicts at staving off addiction. Marco did more than save my life, he showed me by example that love/kindness is a power greater than my cynicism, hatred, and self-destructiveness. Giving up is not an option. I’m capable of using my mind to make up for my broken body.