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An attitude of gratitude.. it can carry you though the hard times

The beauty of a sunrise. It can be captivating. Even thought I lost half of my vision from my stroke, I can still appreciate the beauty. In fact, I have noticed that I love vivid colors even more. But, there the hard times when grief takes hold. While I still have my central vision, the loss of my right peripheral vision can make navigating the store or a busy community gathering difficult. I recently was walking past a bank door and a lady opened the door and hit me. She did not realize that I could not see her, so she still opened the door into me!

It can be so very difficult at times to be grateful when life's challenges seem so insurmountable, but it is possible! It can be as simple as being grateful to be alive. Or, that you were able to walk a few more feet today in rehabilitation. For me, I am constantly reminded by my children how grateful they are that I am with them.

The end of my clinical practice was devastating. I thought that if I worked hard, pushed, did not take "No" for an answer that I would continue to improve to the point that returning to the plan I had for my life would be possible. I now think of the stroke as a train derailment. I could not physically put the train back on the track for the destination that I had planned for me and my family. Instead, with the assistance and support of medical providers, family and friends we were able to put the train onto another track. The destination had changed. We now needed to take into account the damage that had been done to my locomotive. It needed more care, it was slower, it needed to be more careful on its travels. But, it still ran!!!!

During this holiday season, when I reflect on the challenges of this past year, I want to share what I am more grateful for:

1) A husband who has traveled this new road while supporting me and mourning not only the loss of our dreams, but also deals with the new person I have become

2) Loving children who remind me that I should look at the "gift" of being home with them more instead of working as a true gift of more time together

3) Gift of life! I underwent a second open heart surgery in August to remove the regrowth of the heart tumor that caused my initial stroke. Excellent surgeon who cared about me as a patient! Excellent surgery outcome and recovery. No neurological set back noted. A true gift of healing.

For those who are struggling with grief from illness and/or disability, it can be so overwhelming. It can be so very hard to get out of bed in the morning and be grateful for the new day. But, try, It will get better. Look to the new opportunities. Look for added support and friendship. And, if all else fails that day... be grateful for the beautiful sunrise and that you are present to enjoy it.

An attitude of gratitude will lift your heart.

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