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A Message From The Other Side

It’s a bit of tale to tell but I’m hoping it’s one worth sharing. I’m always nervous writing about my personal experiences, it feels so vulnerable but I hope I have imparted it in a way that will be meaningful to readers. I previously mentioned a premonition I had prior to this event in my blog 5 Ways Christmas Changed After My Stroke but what I write about today is an extraordinary message I received from the other side a few years later.

A number of years ago I had the most unfortunate experience of a having a stroke at age 47 while we were back on Vancouver Island for a business trip and visit home. I was fortunate in that my husband had just recently watched a show about signs of stroke and what to do so when I turned to him in the car and spoke inaudibly, he reacted immediately. He asked me what the name of our children was. I replied but apparently incoherently, I recall the look of shock on his face and him saying “We’re turning around, we need to get to the hospital.” After that I have fleeting memories of excessive crying, not being able to raise my arm to open the car door and then realizing I couldn’t walk.

My brain was like a piece of paper that had just been run through a shredder and the world seemed to be spinning out of control. Fortunately for me the hospital had just been set up to have real time video consultation with the neurology department in bigger hospital and I was able to get fast and immediate treatment and in short order regain the use of my right side and speech. Not only was it a stroke, they discovered a intracranial aneurysm, a bulging, weakened area in the wall of an artery in the brain that presented some unique challenges in terms of how to proceed.

We flew home and I saw the neurologist and then the neurosurgeon. After a battery of additional tests, they established I had a week section of the vein at the end of an T intersection of an artery and rather than being shaped like a balloon with a small opening it was more like a large bay. That meant that traditional solutions of filing it with coils to provide strength wasn’t an option. The neurosurgeon wanted to proceed with a challenging surgery to repair it using a different procedure but there were a lot of risks for me to consider like the real possibility of waking up disabled or even death. After consultation with the neurologist we made the decision that I would not proceed with the surgery unless it worsened.

A few year later I returned for my annual follow up tests and the surgeon indicated that the surgery was more urgent than before and he was prepared to admit me that same day. I felt like I didn’t have enough facts to proceed and I needed more time and data. What are the odds I won’t be able to speak? What are the odds I will have other disabilities? What are the odds I’ll die? I left telling him I need time to think. It’s a horrible dilemma; do the surgery and face risks of disability and or death or not do the surgery and face risks of disability and death. Worse, make the wrong choice and impact your family in ways you know will change their lives forever.

I went home and tried to work through things but there’s no right answer. I needed to talk to my neurologist, he is my touch stone, for whatever reason, I trusted him implicitly and have from the moment I met him. Don’t get me wrong, I trust my neurosurgeon equally as much; they are both brilliant and kind but I felt more connected to the neurologist; visits with him feel less scary, perhaps because I know he isn’t the guy with the knife so to speak.

I made an appointment and off we went. My neurologist walked into the room with his dashing smile and said, “Good news, it looks like nothing has changed.” Me and my husband look at each other confused and relate to him that our understanding was that it had changed and that surgery was now necessary. He looked confused, excused himself and returned to tell me that the neurosurgeon will call me and I need to go back to him and he will give me more information. I wasn’t sure what that really meant but I assumed he had read my file wrong when he initially told me that nothing had changed and that yes in fact, I did need to have a further discussion with the surgeon. Another grim day.

Here’s where the story takes a turn. I’m sitting in my DIY Cactus Cafe room (which I should do a blog on one day) where I work from home. In that room there are two smaller windows on each side of the patio door and on one of them I inserted this painted glass cutting board I had found because when the light shines through the window it looks like stained glass. I was mentally exhausted trying to think about my dilemma or trying not to think about my dilemma; neither gave me any relief from the overwhelming sense of fear that I would make the wrong choice and the impacts that would have on my family. So, I do what I always do when I don’t know what to do. I called out to my dad in heaven and begged for a sign, an answer, anything but leaving this horrible decision up to me because I couldn’t bare knowing I made the wrong choice and impacted my family because of it.

While I was staring at the ceiling talking to him (begging him really) there was suddenly this banging behind the cutting board. I’m thinking it’s a bee and wasn’t eager to contend with it so I ignored it and continued my conversation with my dad. Again, it happens, only more aggressively, louder. I hesitate, frustrated that its distracting me and reconsider if I want to contend with a potential angry bee and choose again to ignore it. “Please dad, one little sign, any sign, please dad, please!!!” For the third time, the commotion behind the cutting board escalates to a point where I’m completely distracted and frustrated so I get up and walk over to the glass cutting board and pull it forward from the glass, waiting for whatever flies out to buzz past me in a furious frenzy but nothing happens. Dead silence.

I pull the cutting board out, thinking maybe the bee knocked itself unconscious and instead I see the biggest, most colorful butterfly I have ever seen outside of a butterfly world attraction. I stood there dumb struck. I have never seen a huge butterfly in northern Alberta. It must have been 4″ wide and 6″ long and all these bright colors!! It just sat there on the window edge and didn’t move. I put my hand beside it and it crawled up into the palm of my hand and the two of us just stared at each other. It was beyond extraordinary. After a few minutes I opened the patio door and it sat on my hand for a few moments more before it flew off. And then it hit me! I got my message. Sometimes Things Turn Out Differently Than You Expect. Instantly I felt relieved. I was fearing the surgery like I was fearing the bee but sometimes that bee can turn out to be a butterfly. I would have the surgery. A decision was made. Then, things got weirder.

My husband came home and I started to say “You won’t believe this; I found a butterfly.”
He cut me off and said, “I saw it yesterday.” My chin must have dropped to the floor. “You saw a giant, beautiful butterfly and didn’t tell me and worse, you left it there to die! ” I was confused, mad and disappointed all at the same time. He had the strangest expression on his face, one that I’ve never seen before or since in thirty-five years. He continued, “I honestly don’t know what to say. It was flapping around and I pulled the glass back and saw it and something told me to leave it alone. It was just a weird feeling that told me to ignore it. I completely forgot about it; it was like it went right out of my head until you brought it up.” Now, after being married a lot of years, you know the other person pretty darn well and I know him well enough to know that when I call him out on something, no matter what it is, he goes right into a long blah blah about the reasoning behind it. For him to say he had no explanation was shocking; he seemed genuinely unable to explain why he’d left and forgotten the poor butterfly behind the glass. After we worked through that confusing and somewhat tense moment, I told him about what happened and that I thought it was a sign and that I’d made my decision to move forward with the surgery.

Now, we approach the third event that leaves me dumb struck yet again and relays to me the true meaning of the message I was given. Back to the neurosurgeon we go. I recall sitting in the waiting room, feeling sick to my stomach as I prepared to be brave and walk in there and go ahead with the surgery on the wing of a butterfly. My instincts had been to avoid the surgery, my inner voice had always said “No, don’t” but was that just a convenient way to justify my fear? Think butterflies, not bees I told myself.

My name was called and I stood up on wobbling knees and along with my husband stepped into the room where in this moment in time my life would ultimately change for better or worse; for butterflies or bees. In came the surgeon. It’s show time. He sat down and I was just about to say, OK, if it’s getting worse, I’ll do the surgery, when he says something profound. “We’ve reviewed your case” I could hear buzzing in my ears, my heart was pounding. What is this all about? ” I think to myself. He continues, “I may have over represented the urgency of the surgery, after further review it appears that things haven’t changed since the last tests but I still feel the surgery is in your best interest. I was shell shocked. No change. This was the best news I could have ever dreamed of. The one thing I hung on to that gave me sanity was having a plan of action at the onset and the plan of action that I had formulated with the neurologist was that unless things worsened the risk were too high and things hadn’t worsened! I didn’t have to make a decision, nothing had changed, temporary reprieve. The butterfly message was right, sometimes things do turn out better than you expect.

As far as the neurosurgeon goes, I’d have thought I’d grown wings sooner than hear a surgeon concede on something and I couldn’t have felt more grateful to know the man who holds the balance of my life in his hands was willing and caring enough to double check, to review, re-assess and re-evaluate. If I do have the surgery there is nobody else I’d want doing it. I’m blessed with so many wonderful things and brilliant, devoted Doctors are among them. I haven’t mentioned my family physician but she was my rock through it all and still is.

Do I still go to bed wondering if I’ll wake up? Yes, I do. Am I overwhelmed when I go out alone fearing that I will stroke again and people will think I’m drunk and ignore me? Yes, I do. Do I fear it bursting and leaving me in mind bending pain and disabled or dead? Yes, I do but I fear the impact on my family most of all. No matter what I feel, the clock keeps on ticking and time waits for no one, so there’s absolutely no option left but faith and forced resilience.

I’ll never know for sure if it was my dad sending the message I was pleading for, trying to tell me not to worry, letting me know it’s all going to work out better than I could ever imagine or…… was it just simply a rogue butterfly on vacation from Mexico in the cold Canadian prairies in fall? I choose to believe it was more than a random event. So, when you’re scared, or can’t make a hard decision – know that sometimes there are butterflies where you think you’ll find angry bees.

On a final note I can’t impress upon you all enough to know the signs of a stroke and to note down the time and take the person directly to the hospital. If they suddenly lose their balance, seem disoriented, or have slurred speech or physical changes – don’t wait! I recovered fully because of my husband’s fast response and the fast response in the emergency room so don’t delay – just go!

26 thoughts on “A Message From The Other Side”

  1. There are always signs, and sometimes, we just dismiss them. It’s great you received very prompt medical care. It’s a painful subject for me because my mom did not receive any care in Latvia. Well, things are what they are.
    I think, you are on the right path. I also believe that you should choose to go for surgery or not based on more opinions than just one or two. Well, trust your gut, too.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m sorry to hear about your mom – a situation made worse by unnecessary circumstances. I was very fortunate my husband understood what was going on and even more fortunate that the hospital was equipped to deal with it although there was one Dr. who accused me of being drunk – fortunately it was after the sane, intelligent Dr. administer the blood thinners because if the other guy had been making the decisions he would have written me off so that was very upsetting and scary. Again sorry for your loss and sorry for the pain of knowing things could have been different – that pain can hurt most of all.


  2. What a beautiful story. It’s a clear reminder to me to be open to messages. My brother who recently died was one who received messages all the time. I miss his stories about the visits he had from a wide range of people. I never doubted him. In fact, I envied his connection. Now it’s time that he contacts me. (hint, hint … You hear that brother?)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Anything yet? Sometimes its the weirdest things – you just have to be open to noticing. When my girl friend died last year I was driving home with my husband and I said what would she send me as a sign? I couldn’t think of anything that stood out. That night my husband was going out to get chicken but when he got to the chicken place it was closed and so he went came home with buffalo chicken chunks from Pizza Hut – something he’s never ever bought for me before. I burst into happy tears because that’s what I always ordered when me and her went for lunch. Like every single time. I ordered buffalo chicken chunks and she ordered pancakes and peaches. He had no idea. It was the one thing that I connected solely to her and I hadn’t considered it until he came home with them. I hope you hear from your brother soon – sorry for your loss.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I also wanted to say thanks again for linking to the 5 signs of a stroke. I know we often dismiss many of them for one reason or another but awareness is the key. Kudos to you!

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Goosebumps. I too see those butterflies at moments when I am wanting and needing my father’s guidance. I believe we all get signs from past love ones all the time. Such a heartwarming and beautiful post. Thank you for sharing and I am so glad you are okay. You still have a lot of beautiful things to share with everyone. LOVE this story.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your beautiful words – I’m so glad you loved the story. Isn’t that interesting that you see butterflies connected with your dad too. Such a wonderful and strange universe it is.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It is good to know that you can fully recover from a stroke through quick and immediate action, and to know what signs to look out for.
    I absolutely believe that our loved ones on the other side are able to send us messages and help us on our journey, especially when we need them most.
    Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Wow! I got goosebumps reading your story! I am a firm believer in messages from the other side, my Dad also sends me messages, as long as we are open to the possibility, it can work! So glad you are doing okay, and thank you for sharing your experience!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Tiffany. I debated whether to write about it or not but I thought it might be a good reminder that sometimes there are messages out there for us if we’re open to listening. It’s comforting to know our loved ones who have passed are still watching over us.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I know exactly what you mean! If you check my blog you read how we just came through this same kind of event. While my husband was having the nap, during which time I was washing dishes, I felt the strong presence of relatives who had passed warning me something was up. When my husband awoke it was very apparent something was not right and because of my intuition I told him to take aspirin for his headache instead of the usual ibuprofen. We also had a long trip to the hospital but several of the doctors involved in his care said taking aspirin prevented the stroke he had from being much worse. As a scientist I can say it was some subconscious cue my brain picked up on indicating extreme danger and that was why I as thinking on a subconscious level about a stroke and suggested aspirin to dissolve a clot. Even though I am trained as a scientist I still prefer to think the relatives came to warn me and to be there just in case it was his time to help him across. It wasn’t his time.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Amazing. I think we are sent messages or feelings or signs along our journey and we have to sometimes just trust those inner senses or feelings. Thank God you listened and acted on it and that he is ok.

      Liked by 3 people

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