What were you doing in November 2015? Do you even remember? I don’t. I had two blog entries at the time – one was apologizing for not writing enough, and the other about the first and last date I had with some guy.
Christian, a friend of mine, on the other hand, had a ruptured brain aneurysm. It kinds of put things in perspective, doesn’t it?
It was a few weeks ago when he sent me a message on Facebook. We were cool, and got along as coworkers, but we haven’t spoken since 2012 so I found this very random, and odd to say the least. We got into talking. That’s how I ended up finding out what happened to him. He asked to meet. I agreed. Thus, we had coffee one Saturday afternoon.
I know that what happened to him was serious. Even fatal. But it didn’t sink in until I saw him in person. He was the same Christian I remember from years ago, but there was a different air about him. He had general weakness on his right side, there was a difference in how he spoke. He was only 24 but his face painted a picture of a person who has been through a lot. It wasn’t until then that I understood the gravity of his experience.
Christian told me all about it. After high school, he joined the Air force. Stationed in Alaska in November of 2015, his brain aneurysm ruptured. It was in a part of his brain where they couldn’t operate because it would only do more damage, so they had to let it bleed out. He was in a coma for two months. His family was flown in because they couldn’t move him. He had a tracheostomy, he had a feeding tube. Only after five months until it was finally safe enough to transfer him to a hospital in Chicago.
Then a year ago, he suffered a stroke.
Twice, he was in the hospital. Twice, he had to relearn to walk, and talk. “I was like a baby again, and I’m like growing up again,” he told me. He had physical, occupational, and speech therapy. In the beginning, even eating was a chore. He had no hand-eye coordination. He would try to lift the spoon into his mouth, and miss for about a mile.
Even his memory took a hit. He remembered a few people, and a few faces. There was this one time when his Aunt was trying to hug him, and all he could think of was “who is this stranger trying to hug me.” He said it in a funny way, even gave a tiny scream, it made me laugh. At least he didn’t lose his sense of humor.
The amazing part is that he survived. Christian is strong. He is young. He has vigor, and determination. It’s only been a year after his stroke and now he has his driver’s license back, he goes to the gym everyday to strengthen his right side, he’s taking one class right now, trying to get comfortable with school before taking on a bigger load. He’s a walking, talking miracle. That’s what people called him. In Alaska, before he was transferred, they told him that he brought hope to their unit.
Before we parted, I asked him why he contacted me. He said he saw my picture on Facebook, and it sparked a memory. I’m glad he did. Finding words to be thankful, and being very generous in spirit is not my strong suit. I can’t even begin to describe my spiritual enlightenment about the situation. But I hope the feeling that I am unable to put into words can be translated to other people after reading his story.