Like this edition of the magazine DisabilityINFO, dedicated to independent living, was waiting for my long recovery and the restarting, or continuation, of independent living after a ten-month break. I have no internal, personal, and even less professional need or obligation to write about my "experience", that is, a health challenge such as a stroke, but I notice that my story is very encouraging for people, so if it helps even one person, it will be significant and valuable. I write "challenge" on purpose because now, after everything I've been through, I joke that I don't have problems, only challenges, even though it wasn't the least bit harmless. On the contrary.
Namely, in January 2022, more precisely, on Saturday, January 29, in the afternoon hours, I suffered a stroke and lay unconscious for 40 long hours, motionless, until my work colleagues found me on Monday morning. I know it was afternoon because I did not leave the building after returning from the city. I experienced and survived the type that only 4% of people survive.
I only remember that Saturday and returning from the city with a friend. When we parted in front of his entrance, at the corner of the building, I felt dizzy, I held on to the wall for a while, and when it was over I continued. However, I don't remember how I entered the building, nor did I unlock the door, nor where and when I lay down. The only thing I remember is that after a while I got up to go to the bathroom. My friend tells me that they found me on the floor, barefoot but covered with a blanket?!
I was in the hospital for five long months, and until May 5, the visit was prohibited. Namely, both brothers entered in April for a short time, but I don't remember that period. I was so confused that for a long time, I didn't know if something really happened, or if I was dreaming. Maybe it's better that it's like that because I'd rather not remember some situations with some nurses and technicians. And I really don't remember, although there are some rather unpleasant ones that I remember, including the comments "when will I go home anymore", as if I wanted to stay in such an environment. However, since July it has happened that my memory comes back, but what happened since April, not before that. Of course, there were also those who were wonderful, but I won't talk about the names because I forgot some of them. However, I remember the voice and the face of all of them, so even when they are in the corridor, I would know who is talking. At the end of May, it turned out that I was positive for COVID-19, which is why I was moved to the infectious disease ward. The staff there is really wonderful and attentive, very dedicated, and "on their feet" non-stop.
Nevertheless, I still think that I had a wonderful doctor, a top expert, the best neurosurgeon we have, Luka Borovinić, even though he showed his modesty when I told him in one conversation that I think he saved my life. He is someone I value a lot and whose presence suits me a lot, I feel more confident and bolder. Moreover, I am happy to know him, and he is responsible for the fact that I have pleasant feelings when I pass KBC, after many, many years of different feelings and experiences.
My friends tell me that during the neurosurgery, I kept asking about Loptica (my dog), and the training in Herceg Novi, which I don't know if it happened during that period :), but I believe that I also dreamed that because I love Herceg Novi the most out of all the cities.
By the way, they found Loptica on me, it was lying down and came down only after they opened the door from the living room. It was strange to them why she couldn't be heard and didn't bark, but when they heard the phone vibrating they decided to break down the door. She did not defecate in the apartment for over 40 hours.
Later, when a friend took her for a walk, she says that she defecated for a long time, after which she lay next to him for a while, and then got up and started barking when she relaxed because she defecated. She is, indeed, a special creature and she has shown it countless times, not only now.
I often also dreamed that I was going to a bathroom that I could not enter because of wooden slats and insurmountable obstacles. I wanted to be independent, even though I was so immobile for months that I couldn't answer the phone because the sensor wouldn't work when I touched it, it was quite difficult for me. I would often cry because it was the most difficult experience for me besides the sobs of other people and the sound of lung respirators.
While I was in hematology, I dreamed that I was in Golija, in the village, with my parents, and then I would ask my mother to take me home. :)
I also dreamed that I was at my aunt's house in Nikšić, but that the sisters were there and everything was like a ward. My aunt's sister, her daughter, told me later that this aunt was the most in contact with everyone, which, I believe, is the reason for the dreams because they were identically repeated. In June, I started dreaming that my hair was falling out, even though it was so short that there was nothing to fall out. :) That was a sign that the worry was passing, so the night before leaving the hospital, I dreamed that my last long strand had fallen out.
When my older brother came, I asked him if my mother knew what happened to me and told him not to tell her.
From the 27th of June and leaving the hospital, the real recovery began because every day I was practicing with my physiotherapist. To this day, I practice, a couple of times a day with weights, and I hope I won't stop for the rest of my life.
I will "return" to KBC for a short time; Namely, when my mother came for the first time, I was placed in a room with men. During that period, my doctor used unused vacation days from 2021. Since my bed was the last one next to the window, she thought I wasn't there, and that she was told the wrong thing, and when she saw me, she hardly recognized me because I was certainly not even 30 kilograms. For a long time, I only had butter and jam, or cheese for breakfast, and so on until the next morning, and very early, right after the visit. I hated the sound of the food cart terribly because for months I was brought boiled rice, which was neither sweet nor salty, until one woman, with whom I am now friends, asked to be brought the same food as her, but that is it was only at the end of May, then with a break until after June 10 because I was in hematology, where they fed me well because my brother sent me food.
I slept very poorly, so poorly that in the morning before and after the visit, I would be really sleepy. Of course, it happened that I fell asleep and the bread was completely dry. Also, for a long time, they only gave me the middle (not the crust), until I asked the interns to give me the crust as well. The nurses told them that I could suffocate, but they didn't care that I was lying on my back for five months, without moving on my side and supporting myself with pillows, because, of course, I only started turning on my side on my own in July. Not to mention that it is primarily the job of physiotherapists.
Soon, in July, I started to sit on my own, and then to stand up while holding on to the table, and finally, from August 5, to walk without aids. I felt like a baby that "got hold" of its legs. Of course, I really care about being independent, especially in the bathroom, although my brother and daughter-in-law are really wonderful. Of course, my daughter-in-law helped me more in the bathroom.
However, early separation from parents made the character firm and unshakable.
The doctor said in July that the news that I can sit up on my own is excellent news and that it is certain that a third intervention will not be needed, which is very risky, and regardless of what has to be done in some situations, it can cause serious consequences.
In addition to my family, the physiotherapist, and Dr. Borovinić's correct decisions, I think that my persistence and positive spirit, as well as the desire to live, were crucial for my recovery. Not once did I ask myself: "Why me? What did I do wrong, and why am I suffering?" On the contrary, I was indescribably happy and grateful, so the results came really quickly after leaving the hospital, and the physical consequences do not apply. This is exactly what I wanted to tell you with this text: Live every day looking forward to a new morning and a new evening, to every person, meeting, conversation, smile, hug, because you can hardly know how many seconds, minutes, days, months or years you have left. But what you should know is that the most valuable things, such as health, love, clear conscience, and friends, cannot be bought with money because their value has no price!
Marina Vujacic (She who, in addition to clinical death, also survived a stroke and doesn't think that's why she's a hero, but "just" someone who loves life)
The text has been prepared and is published in DisabilityINFO magazine, a special issue dedicated to independent living.