That’s me, in the pink hoodie, with the super-short hair.

Under normal circumstances, I might’ve been a “helper,” volunteering at a nursing home or assisted living facility during activity time.

No. I was a patient – in yet another rehabilitation center, after yet another close call with death.

Somehow, in the middle of the night, I managed to fall out of bed, landing headfirst onto a very unforgiving slate floor. And just like in the movies, it was several days before I would wake up. Unbeknownst to me, I had undergone brain surgery to stop a severe brain bleed. There I was, now at the Medical University of South Carolina with fifty staples punched into my shaven head, hooked up to a ventilator, and unable to speak. Looking in the mirror, I saw this strange woman – a cross between Sinead O’Connor and GI Jane. When my neurology nurse finally removed the ventilator, I pointed to the TV, asserting, “That’d better not be Fox News.” For those who don’t remember my previous – and dire health-related circumstance – on November 8, 2016, I woke up from surgery, having just learned America had a new president.

Need a laugh? At the beginning of my rehab, I was given the now-famous Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MOCA) test. That’s the one where the patient identifies some pictures, “Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV.” With my physical, occupational, and speech therapists’ help over two months in Charleston and Beaufort, I was walking again. To keep my brain engaged, I practiced my craft by writing emails, editing past projects, and drafting would-be blog posts. When I was discharged, I passed the MOCA test with flying colors – able to recall all of the words, draw the 3-D cube correctly, and place the clock hands in their correct position.

After all that, is there some good news? You betcha. I missed the COVID lockdown at the rehab facility by one week. In fact, as I was chatting with a client (now a friend) this week, I realized I hadn’t told her about my experience – that she was my first client following my ordeal. And what it made me realize, too, was that this wasn’t only my one-year anniversary of my “return to normal,” but it is has been a year since this long, terrible nightmare America has been living through began. Spring is coming, and by May, we are told, all American adults will be able to get their COVID vaccines.

Hope springs eternal indeed.


Written by : Nancy Slome

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