On November 6th 1998, I had an intense and painful headache. I was 7 months pregnant with my fifth baby. I was only 29 years old. I will never forget this day. It was 10 pm on a Friday night. The throbbing in my head was so painful and I tried to walk down a flight of stairs to get Tylenol for my headache.

Suddenly, a numbness sensation rolled throughout my body. I could no longer speak and I lost my ability to move. My brain knew what I wanted to say, and I was trying to say it, but no words came out. My vision was fading and I was so aware of the fact I could die.

Thankfully, my husband Tyler was a doctor and realized I was having a stroke, and carried me to the car. We drove to the ER where my husband worked. I had lost my vision and could no longer walk. As we walked in the door, two staff members, said, "Dr. Collins what are you doing here?" Tyler said, "My wife is 29 years old, pregnant and has had a stroke." At this point, I had lost all of my vision and movement.  I listened to the two ER doctors say “I don’t think she will survive this” as I laid on the cold emergency room table. I had suffered a massive stroke.

How many 29 year-olds have a stroke?

I can’t explain the extreme GRATITUDE I had when I woke up in the hospital the next day. I could not walk and I had lost my vision.

I choose immediately to be OPTIMISTIC. THANKFUL. BETTER not BITTER. I woke up with complete joy.

It is now my 21 year anniversary today of  SURVIVING. I am still completely numb on the left side of my body. I never regained the vision on the left side  peripheral of my eye. I suffer from vision problems from the stroke.

I am ALIVE. I believe my decision to be HAPPY and GRATEFUL changed my perspective and my outlook on recovery. I was given a precious second chance at life. I will not waste my time on earth having a negative attitude or pity party on what I lost that night. I look for ALL that I actually gained.

I realize that I have lived life BETTER from almost losing my life. I take NOTHING for granted. I am HAPPY every day. I am FULL of THANKFULNESS everyday. I could be BITTER or BETTER. I choose to become a better me.

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