A stroke taught me that life is a gift

By: Agustin (Uruguay)

To begin with, I had gotten a scholarship at the best university in the country, and I went to Montevideo from Salto, my hometown in Uruguay. I left for the capital at 18 years of age. So there I was, alone, and in my little flat. I was independent.

I was studying for some exams when a headache suddenly hit me, without any warning. I took an ibuprofen and went to sleep knowing that I had studied enough. The next day, July 31, 2015, I woke up at dawn and noticed something strange. I couldn’t move my right arm, and that’s when the fight began. I moved from my bed noticing that I couldn’t move my right leg either. At that time I was already throwing up and passing out, I would wake up, move around a bit and I would pass out and throw up again. I climbed into a chair and collapsed. I moved to a desk and climbed up, and I collapsed too. To survive I had to get to the door and wait for someone to hear me. However, there was a problem -I was left speechless, I couldn’t talk, no one could hear my cries for help.

Lo and behold, my mother had called at night, and I was sleeping. The morning that I was having the stroke she called again, and called, and called, and called. She had my doorman’s cell phone so she called him. The doorman told her that I had come home the night before alone and that he would go up to see if everything was okay.

I was not going to let my future cease to exist, and I tapped a dresser with my left hand to see if anyone could hear me. The doorman heard a faint noise and was scared. Those maternal senses, those gatekeeper senses, and my lack of response, all caused them to knock the door down. There I was, unable to say anything, with my eyes wide open, I was completely conscious. I remember that some policemen came, they asked me for my ID, and I pointed my eyes at where my document was, with a half laugh, in the midst of despair. My cousin arrived, and when I saw her I felt relieved, and I fainted again knowing that a relative was finally there with me.

I woke up in the Intensive Treatment Center, and my mother was there. I wanted to speak to her and tell her what had happened to me, but I couldn’t. I spent 2 weeks at the ICU and could barely tell Mom what I wanted for dessert: a cup of vanilla ice cream.

I went to a medium care facility as the inflammation in my skull had stopped. Oh, I didn’t explain one thing about my situation: I only had half a skull! The left half of my skull had been put in my pelvis. It was later returned back in place: the magic of medicine! Back then, I had to use a reduced but effective language to communicate. With the help of a physical therapist, and after much practice, I had been able to move the tip of my index finger on my right hand, which was a great achievement for me.

On August 25, I went from Montevideo to Salto, about 500 km away, to learn everything all over again.  I was literally a big baby. They taught me how to eat, bathe, drink coffee, walk, and talk to a physical therapist and speech therapist. In short, to do all the things that are done every day.

And now I am here, a completely normal young man, who can walk, move his hips in a disco, talk and laugh out loud, who can go to the gym and who can have unrequited love.

6 years after my near death experience, my life changed, and it taught me that life is a wonderful gift that cannot be wasted. That you have to value the things that are done every day, and that in the end, the most important is family.

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