At life’s turning point: To Ann Cochran, writing this book has been a labor of love while collaborating with her daughter, who is the subject. An unexpected detour tells Kiirsten’s story about a devastating stroke and ensuing eight-year struggle to cope with her disabilities, all the while raising a two-year-old son. Here’s Kiirsten’s Input From a First-Person Perspective

 

My life, since I was a young teen, was influenced by my perception of what I wanted to do or be “when I grew up”. Each step was mapped out for me by loving parents and doting grandparents. As I matured, some of my earlier plans changed drastically from becoming an attorney, psychologist, teacher, special education teacher and ultimately special education diagnosis. But all the options were ones concerning my desire to succeed professionally and live a life looking down the road to happily ever-after. At the beginning of the 2009 New Year, I was full of plans. My position as a Special Education Diagnostician was challenging and rewarding, and each day that passed gave me a sense of accomplishment and hope for the future— the future growth of the children whose lives I touched every day. My own 2-year-old son, the light of my life and reason for extraordinary joy, was loving and inquisitive and learning something new every day at his daycare. My career was headed down the right path, I was enjoying motherhood and each of my days was full of promise and love

Then, March 28, 2009, was the first day of the rest of my life. I say this because everything from that day till now is so very different from the life I built with such resolve. When I went to bed on the evening of March 27th, I had no way of knowing that my life would be forever changed. What happened in the early hours of the morning altered everything that had been part of my very being from that moment in time.

I was diagnosed with a dissected carotid artery stroke that caused a major hemorrhagic bleed that affected the left hemisphere of my brain and in most cases, is fatal. During the first 72 hours after I was hospitalized, my family did not know whether I would live or die, it was just a matter of watching and waiting. During treatment for this stroke, I was a patient for 65 days in two hospitals where I received varying levels of professional care.

The story of my journey is all about recovery, familial support, and accepting a very different life than I have ever known. At the beginning, there was only survival, then coping, then overcoming the physical and mental ravages caused by a near-fatal stroke. Then came the months and years that passed during my trip back; days, weeks, and months of being able to say no more than “I’m” “Kris” “hurt”; weeks of learning to take steps, then walking with a walker (with someone belt balancing my right side since I couldn’t hold onto anything with my paralyzed arm), dealing with days, weeks, and months of despair, enlightenment, and success measured in counted baby steps. Finally, after thinking I’d never be happy again, I felt elation and pride, my life reinvented thanks to God guiding me back.

This book is a cry in the dark for empathy for all stroke victims who live in an insensitive world.

Ann Cochran had a successful first career in the fields of Legal and Construction Administration. Following several years of working in those areas, she decided to join a friend in a local interior decorating company where they stayed for 3 years. At the advanced age of 30, she settled down in her lengthy career in field office marketing, employed by three corporations in the defense and aerospace industry. She is a dedicated wife, homemaker, a loving mother of 4, and a doting grandmother of 6.

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