Three Strokes and You’re OUT!

Losing a baby

We had to be extra frugal while my husband was in medical school.  I went shopping for Christmas decorations the day after Christmas.  We had three kids at the time.  When I walked by the beautiful red stockings with glitter and sequins, I had been eyeing all season, I stood there a long time contemplating how many I should buy for our growing family.

I married later in life and we had three boys in 38 months.  I didn’t know how many more blessings I could physically take care of.  Our family was already at 5, so I decided on purchasing a total of seven Christmas stockings.

February 24, 2007, sometime between baby feedings at 2:30am and 5:30am, I thought I sprained my ankle.  At the second feeding, I started to limp on my left leg.  Later that morning, I tried to carry my three-month old down the stairs and got really scared that he and I would fall.   I called my husband and asked him to stop studying and help take care of the kids.  (If you know me, I don’t ask for help.)

When Laron came home, I went straight to bed.  Laron and I thought I was “just tired.”  I woke up after a three hour nap and Laron went back to school to study.

Miquelle and the eggsI took the kids grocery shopping.  While in the frozen foods section, everything looked so good.  (This should have been a red flag for me.  Nothing in the frozen food section ever tastes really good.)  I came home and tried to make fried rice with our Chinese frozen surprise from the store.  While making dinner, I noticed that I had cooked the rice and put the whole egg, shell and all, on top of the rice mixture.  When I came back to the rice several minutes later, I laughed at myself for putting the eggs on the rice and took a photo.  I thought; this is your brain after having 3 kids in 38 months.

The next morning, I went in the kitchen to get a burp cloth to feed my baby at 5:30am.  I opened the kitchen drawer and told my left hand to pick up a burp cloth.  My arm just dangled there like a stubborn dog not willing to obey.  I immediately woke up my husband.  We both realized I had somehow lost the use of my left-side.  I had a right-carotid artery dissection; in other words—a stroke.

I’m 32 years old.  My nurse, who was my age, was in shock as well.  I’m too young! I kind of discerned the diagnosis, but it was strange to hear it from the doctor.  My first thoughts were who on Earth will take care of my babies if I leave this world early?  How can Laron finish medical school, if I die?

Over the next few months, I had to ask for a lot of help.  For exercise, I was told; I was only allowed to ride a stationary bike with a helmet.  Many people took care of me and my kids, fed my family, cleaned our home, and did our laundry.  At a time in my life that I needed to be strong and serve my family and others, I was humbled and compelled to ask my Father in Heaven to help me.

Some of my rehabilitation included physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy.  Physical therapy consisted of moving from a walker, to a cane, to clutching walls, and finally walking in the center of a hallway. Also, we tried to do master balancing. You need three elements to all be aligned to achieve a sense of balance. Your brain, eyes, and ears all have to be strong and healthy to be stable.  It took a few months to get to this point.

I had a right-sided stroke so my speech wasn’t slurred.  This is why it took longer to recognize.  My speech was acceptable, but my cognitive skills were greatly lacking.  I am someone who can walk in a room and immediately recognize that I need to pick up several items and put them back in their place and plan a route to do just that in a matter of seconds.  After my stroke, I would walk in a room and slowly process only one thought at a time.  Also, my speech therapist had me do some math worksheets and I could only do up to third grade math.  I was running an eBay business at the time.  My husband and brother, Jon, helped me ship eighty packages after I returned from the hospital.  We enclosed notes to explain the situation and expressed our appreciation for my customers’ patience.  I decided to keep doing eBay on a smaller scale to challenge my math skills with ROI, profit margins and managing inventory.

Occupational therapy was greatly needed.  I was a stay at home Mom of three kids, 3 years and under.  I had to learn to manage my home, cook, care for my babies and keep my business on a smaller scale while I learned to remaster my skills and myself.  Long term and short term memory are really difficult for me.  My husband smiles and jokes sometimes, calling it: “Selective Memory.” One asset I felt I brought into our marriage is that I could remember names and faces really well.  I would whisper into my husband’s ear and remind him of the person’s name and help him look great and help others feel good that he remembered them. I felt like, what good am I if I can’t bring any of my old strengths into our marriage? I thought Laron may have been better off without my inadequate self-amongst all my other inabilities at this time.

Medical treatments: I was put on blood thinners for six months.  The thinning and the angles of the artery were irreparable. I was told that since I was so young; I would have another stroke in my lifetime. I wasn’t quite sure how to take this information.  I am fighting every day to gain bits and pieces of my brain, physical capabilities, and my life back.  I can’t prevent another stroke so I contemplated; how can I be aggressive in my recovery and not be struck down again?

I could have died.  That thought alone makes someone sit up a little straighter. I really looked inward and saw all my imperfections and shortcomings.  I resolved to do better, be better and be strong for my family.  I’ve always felt that one of my strengths is my ability to raise strong, valiant young men.  I knew I wouldn’t leave this world without passing on my strength and courage to them.

One miracle that has taken place since the stroke is adding to our family.  I worried we wouldn’t be able to have any more children.  We were told that if we were to have another child to wait at least two years.  Two years and nine months later we gave birth to our first baby girl.

In the last five years, I have been able to serve the Lord in ways I never imagined possible.  It hasn’t been easy.  My ability to serve has increased and my communication with the Spirit has become more keen.  While we’ve been growing and life was returning to normal, it took a while for us to become pregnant again.

In December 2012, I had my first miscarriage.  I didn’t think that was a trial I would have to experience.  It was a few days before my birthday and just before I would be sustained as the Young Women’s President again.  My husband wanted to keep the miscarriage private. However, in my heart I knew I needed to be open about this miscarriage.  What happened next I did not expect.  So many women opened up to me about their own miscarriages.  It was humbling to listen and learn all I could from these beautiful sisters.  I perceived it was both healing for me and the sisters sharing their stories.

The medical bills came systematically six weeks later; so I had to pay for a baby I would never hold.  Seven months later, I was helpful and supportive of other women during the arrival of their new bundles of joy.

Christmas 2013 decorating was challenging when I realized I had a seventh stocking in my Christmas tub.  I cried all season long.

Christmas 2014, we were deeply blessed to announce that our family was growing again by two feet!  We got to share this exciting news with family and friends!

Our family is growingWe were so excited to finally get pregnant after a miscarriage and working with the infertility specialist.  We started visiting the Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor who specializes in high-risk pregnancies.  I have had a stroke, two seizures and 3 C-sections.  What I love most about MFM doctors is they have seen it all!  They don’t act like I’m going to have one complication during the whole process.  We were new to the area and it had been awhile since I had seen a neurologist.  Our MFM doctor suggested we visit the neurologist, so they could both understand better what they were dealing with in the coming months.

The neurologist had a Doppler ultrasound done on my neck and an MRI or CT scan behind my ear.  He discovered that I had a 90% stenosis; narrowing on my right-carotid artery.  Both doctors agreed that this should be taken care of after the birth of my baby.

On February 6, 2015 we found out we were having a boy!  Twelve days later, we learned he didn’t have a heartbeat.

The next five days were spent together as a family.  My anger came out in being snappy with my husband and kids.  I also became more sarcastic.  Laron would tell me not to lift anything heavy, to not do certain things or to be extra careful.  I would rudely respond with, “What am I going to do?  Kill a dead baby?”  I was really trying to suppress my anger; as a strength, to my family, but it didn’t come with love and compassion.

This is our second miscarriage in two and a half years.  The previous time, we were six weeks along.  With this recent pregnancy, Laron and the children became more involved and more excited!  I was a little past feeling.  I didn’t want to deliver this baby that everyone wanted to see.  I knew what it is like to pass or deliver an unborn baby.  I didn’t want to relive it.

The morning of February 23, 2015, I asked Laron to give me a Priesthood blessing.  I had one earlier that week, but I didn’t realize how scared I was to go into labor again.  In the blessing, I was told that the Lord was grateful for me to be willing to be a vessel for this Spirit to gain a body.  I didn’t know I was willing, but the Lord knows me and my faith and desires to be an instrument in His hands each day.  More than any other reason, this is why I feel I need to share this with others who have been through similar experiences.  One thing that has been made clear to me through these experiences is that The Lord knows you, loves you, and knows your faith and your desire to serve Him.

Following this miscarriage, my main concern, being a high-risk patient, was that I wanted to keep all my female parts so that I could have another successful pregnancy if the Lord allowed.  My family really wanted to see the baby which meant I had to be induced and had to deliver this baby.  I knew ultimately, this was my decision to make.  We went ahead with the delivery.  The Labor and Delivery nurses at St. Luke’s-Boise couldn’t have been better!  I had two nurses assigned to me and they treated me like a Queen!

What I didn’t expect to be an outcome of this emotional day was how spiritual the whole day felt.  We invited our children to come in after the birth.  The reverence in the room expanded as our children watched this lifeless body being held and loved.  Laron told them that his body is here but his spirit is outside of his body now.  We felt His spirit in the room with us.

Miquelle's babyMy parents, sister and niece drove hundreds of miles to help Laron and I with our four beautiful children.  My prayers were all answered!  I wanted to have it happen while Laron had work off; I wanted our children to be near after the birth; and I wanted to have no further complications in the delivery that would prevent me from being able to be a vessel of the Lord.

My family soon left and Laron’s parents, who also drove hundreds of miles, were able to come up later during the week.  Earlier that week, I thought of how special it was to have every woman in our family who had a miscarriage or stillborn be able to come help us in our hour of need.  I hope and pray that it was healing for them, as well, to be here in our tender moments and mercies of the Lord!

Eight days later, on Tuesday, March 3, 2015 I woke up at 3:30am to use the restroom.  Everything seemed normal since the delivery of the miscarriage, but I was still hemorrhaging.  I lay awake for hours crying and thinking about the loss we had experienced the week before.  At 4:30am, I felt a toothache-like pain in my jaw.  Sharp tooth pain in the lower mandible or jaw bone can sometimes be linked to a stroke. That reminded me that I needed to call the neurologist later that day and make an appointment to have my right carotid artery fixed.

A few hours later, I finally got out of bed to get my kids ready for school.  When I got out of bed, I couldn’t walk on my left leg.  It was pretty painful, but I kept doing it.  I thought it must be a sore muscle and tried to walk it off.  I went for a walk and about seven homes away from mine; I realized this was not a sore muscle.  My body would almost collapse every time I put weight on my left leg.  I came back home and tried to walk upstairs.  I had to crawl.  This is when my tough, stubborn self-realized… I need help!

I debated with myself for an hour or two, whether or not I did have a stroke, whether or not I should call my husband and ask him to take me to the emergency room.  I knelt down and prayed and asked God if something is really wrong please let the doctors find it.  When I finished my prayer, I contacted Laron, my knight in shining armor came in his 2003 Ford Focus.  I called my friend and told her I couldn’t watch her daughter that day because I was afraid I may have had a stroke.  She took her daughter and our daughter to work with her that day instead.  When we dropped off Charleigh, our friend prayed for me and my family.

What was irreparable in 2007 is standard procedure in 2015.  I had to wait an extra day to have the procedure completed because we needed a certain size. I am now the proud owner of two stents in my neck to repair the aneurysm and right-carotid artery dissection. These stents are made by Pipeline.  The best way to describe them is to say they look like metal mesh and move as a Chinese finger-torture toy would.

In the wake of my stroke, surgery, and recovery, I still had to fill out paperwork from our hospital visit the week before.  We had to decide if we wanted to name our baby or not.  I didn’t care one way or the other.  We didn’t name our first miscarriage, so I felt this one didn’t need a name either.  I felt we would be neglecting the first because this miscarriage was more real to the family.

We did name this baby, Simeon Ralph.  Simeon Hutchinson was my great-grandfather, who made violins in Utah.  George Ralph Crosland is my husband’s grandfather.  George was a long-time turkey farmer in central Utah.

Through other events and Priesthood blessings, we have come to understand and see the Lord’s guiding hand in all of this.  Simeon chose to leave this world that I may stay and be a companion to my husband and raise our children together.  We don’t know if the baby and I could have survived a stroke together or if the recovery would have come as easily.

Simeon Ralph, thank you for your sacrifice!

I needed to write my thoughts and feelings to help me.  My baby was due today, July 10, 2015.  I pray I may have helped someone out there reading this or sharing it with a loved one.

Through these experiences, I have been humbled and compelled to ask my Father in Heaven to help me.  I have learned to accept help.  I have been blessed to serve the Lord in ways I never imagined were possible, and it hasn’t been easy.  My ability to serve has increased and my communication with the Spirit has become more profound.  With the second stroke, I try to stand taller, be kinder in thoughts and deeds, love more and criticize less!

No matter your current trial or challenge, the Lord trusts you with this moment in your life!

The Lord knows you, loves you, and knows your faith and your desire to serve Him! He will help you through and help you realize your own strengths and blessings to share as gifts to others.

You can follow Miquelle on her blog

Written by: Miquelle

This story was seen first on Real Imprints.