Debby cannot remember the name of the movie showing when a massive stroke hit her hard.
All she recalls is: "I was watching a movie and I woke up three days later in the hospital. Everyone says it was a good movie. If I can ever remember the name, I want to see the end of it,” she laughed.
The three years since then "kind of feel like I jumped out of an airplane without a parachute,” she said.
The friend watching the movie with her called her parents in a panic when Debby slumped over did not respond.
They took her to the hospital. Debby needed the intensive care unit of a larger hospital 90 minutes away. Three days later she recalls, “I woke up in the hospital and could not talk. I had to use the thumbs up for many days.”
Recovery began with weaning off the feeding tube. Ironically Debby, who needed to lose weight, had to consume many calories during that process.
Over the next six weeks, Debby went from the ICU to intermediate care and finally to rehabilitation.
“I had to learn how to walk, eat and talk,” she said.
Looking back, only a couple events foreshadowed the massive stroke that left her right side paralyzed at the age of 28. Three weeks before she had pain in her neck, flu-like symptoms and vertigo so bad that she went home early from work. Doctors speculate she had a couple small strokes at that time. Debby attributes the stroke to smoking and being overweight.
“I quit smoking the day I had the stroke,” she said.
“She lived on junk food and lead a very sedentary lifestyle that brought on the high blood pressure,” her mother said.
Debby recovered remarkably. Her hypothalamus did not. That affects her body's ability to warm itself, so Debby is cold all the time. She bundles up in layers and still has cold hands and feet.
She has had a year of vision therapy to correct the stroke-induced double vision and now wears a prism on the left lens of her glasses to modify the double vision.
“My vision really slows things. I have to work on my balance,” she said.
She moves much slower to be secure with her moves.
“At one point, I felt sorry for myself a lot. I tried to blame God. I had to stop doing that. I had to take responsibility for myself.”
Besides recently venturing back into the work environment, Debbie does needlework and plays video games.
“I got a job that way. I am better because the games increase eye-hand coordination, and I do cross word puzzles. I enjoyed my life before I had my stroke.” Debby said.
However, the stroke changed her circumstances and her outlook. Looking back she says she would not have started smoking and dated the people she dated.
"My stroke was because of the way I was living. God let's us do what we want,” she said, reflectively. “I know a lot of people that get away with it. Self-discipline is so inconvenient. I never thought it would happen to me."
Living with her mom, “the Diet Nazi,” Debby has lost 40 pounds and said, “I have been trying to get back on my feet. I definitely have come back to the Lord. I have been trying to give it all to the Lord instead of dwelling on it and feeling sorry for myself.”
She joins her parents in daily prayers and Bible reading and has seen God use the past three years to bring her to Him.