Having hope means having more than one way to look at any situation.

I had hope that I would have healthy golden years–but I had a brain hemorrhage that caused a stroke last year. Three top neurologists each tested me extensively, puzzled over the cause, and couldn’t find one. They told me it probably wouldn’t happen again and to just go live my life. I’d completed my weekly four-mile walk three days before the hemorrhage and all my vital signs and checkups had been good.

This was terrifying!

There had been no warning signs. I’d been sitting in bed after a calm day as a retired teacher, dictating a story into my tablet, when I suddenly fell over backward, unable to move my arms and legs. I thought I was tired and rested for an hour before I realized something was seriously wrong and called 911.

How could I live my life waiting to suddenly collapse again? Did that mean I should never drive or hold a grandchild? Faith had allowed me to come through seemingly impossible situations before, and I had hope that I’d find a way out of this one, too. I had to find another way to think about the situation.

“Don’t be discouraged by life’s difficulties. With hope and determination, you can triumph over any difficulties.”

Lailah Gifty AkitaPearls of Wisdom: Great Mind

One of my strengths is my imagination. I began imagining that I had seven neighbors, each of whom spent most of their time in one of iPEC’s energy levels.  They represented those levels inside my psyche. I had to rest a lot, so I had time to lie back and ponder the future with my imaginary friends who had different ways to hope.

In my mind, we’d chat about the various possibilities.

Velma, was the level one neighbor who usually behaved like a victim. Conrad made everything a confrontation (he was my level two guy and he came in handy when I had to dispute medical bills). Connie always liked to keep everything on an even keel (she was my level three woman who wanted to cooperate with everyone). Seaton only wanted to serve, giving away his energy and resources defined him and he never asked for anything in return (he was my level four philanthropist and I talked to him about people who were in worse shape than I was).

Rebecca was my straight shooter. Her forte was reconciliation and she was my “win/win or I don’t play” level five neighbor. I had hope that I’d be like her, though I wasn’t always strong enough to do it. Harold saw the harmony and oneness of everything and was my continuously happy level six friend. Patricia was full of passion without judgment and I was in awe of her level seven creativity.

This situation seemed to be without the hope of a long, healthy life.

Velma often convinced me to eat chocolate and be happy in whatever way I could, since there was nothing I could do to change my life. I discovered chocolate rugelach pastries. Connie convinced me that I could keep working with all the people I’d talked to. There was always hope for something better.

When the neurologist I respected most moved away, I had to decide if I would look for another doctor for regular checkups. Conrad was so angry at their incompetence that I began to hope that I could find one with different skills, but I was immobilized by indecision and gaining weight.

It was such a long shot that my imaginary friends and I needed a conference.

A friend knew an excellent ear/nose and throat doctor and thought he might know an excellent neurologist. Only Velma told me not to bother talking to anyone else.  She reminded me of the depression I felt on hearing the last non-diagnosis and asked if I wanted to go through that again. Conrad was cursing at the stupidity of the previous ones, though, and Connie reminded me that the third neurologist was leaving so his feelings wouldn’t be hurt if I found a replacement. Rebecca, Harold, and Patricia convinced me that it was always better to hope for something good and act on it than to give up.

What’s better than hope?

The doctor friend of my friend referred me to a neurologist who was the head of neurology in a huge hospital system and he found the cause of my hemorrhage. I’d been born with a malformation in one juncture between an artery and vein. It had ruptured and would certainly do so again unless we blocked or removed it.

We had to remove it. This was also terrifying. Velma, the victim part of me was losing her mind. I was thinking about letting someone cut a hole in my skull, poke around in there, and maybe take out part of my brain. He was going to re-attach this piece of the top of my skull with plates and screws! I should know that wouldn’t work and I’d be left a vegetable. Conrad suggested that I arrange for someone to sue if it went badly, but to go ahead. Everyone else in my imagination said it was better to do the thing that would yield the most hope.

I revised my will and other paperwork that should be done by people who might die and scheduled the craniotomy.

Praise God!  I woke up!

After surgery, I only needed therapy for my body and attention span since the removed bit of brain affected those. I would be fine in a year or so and never have the problem again.

When I get annoyed, my emotional Harold and Patricia remind me that I woke up that morning, so it’s a good day! I can dare to hope for my heart’s desire.

Hope changed my life and it can change yours. Contact me, and together we can find your strength and explore ways to look at your situation.

Photo Credit: Olivier Fahrni, Unsplash.com