I suffered the stroke on January 10th 1995; it took the doctors three days to conclude that what I had on that terrible night was a stroke. By then it was too late.
On January the 13th, my mother's birthday. The doctor called my parents in to break the news to them. "From the brain scans, we can see that your daughter's lower brain area is completely gray." "Our conclusion is that she had a stroke," "I am sorry to inform you this, but the brainstem is so severely damaged that she would not be able to move voluntarily at all for the remainder of her life."
I was diagnosed with a condition I have never heard of before; "Locked-in-syndrome." He said that if I was lucky and with lots of therapy, I could be able to move a finger someday. He recommended rehab, and of course, we did.
The therapists at the rehab helped a little; they taught me how to eat and how to speak with my eyes. However, there wasn't anything more that they could do for me. There was not much change in my situation after several months of trying out various techniques. After six months of rehab, the therapists concluded that there wasn't anything else that they could do for me. That was the moment that it really sunk in; I was going to be trapped inside my body for the rest of my life.
The doctors and therapists did their best in trying to convince my parents to send me to an institute. My parents were enraged by their proposition, and they utterly refused the idea. They were not going to let me fade away in an institute surrounded by strangers. Mum and dad weren't going to allow what happened to ruin our lives. They were going to take me home and try to give as much as normal life as possible, and they did.
Even with the comprehension of all the effects of taking me home would have to their lives, mum and dad never hesitated. I was a 21-year-old grown woman, but pretty much like a baby, a huge baby. I could not do anything for myself. They had to do everything for me. Everything! And they did just that and much more.
My parent's house is just an average mid-class Finnish house with a living area, dining room and kitchen on the main floor and the bathrooms upstairs. Not wheelchair friendly at all. The house had to be remodeled to accommodate me and my needs. A whole new part had to be built. It had to be spacious enough to move around with a wheelchair. A wheelchair accessible bathroom had to be added. A lot had to be done to give me all the comfort necessary so I could have the best quality of life possible.
It should have been their time to enjoy their lives. My parents had this enormous challenge of taking care of their full-grown daughter just like she was a baby. They were conscious of the big and tough job that they took upon themselves and were completely aware that it would be something that they had to do till the end of their lives. Still, they did not hesitate; they did not doubt for a single second.
I always get a smirk on my face when I hear people say that; "Parenthood takes sacrifices?" I mean, taking care of one's child/children is in no way a sacrifice. It is just part of being a parent. It is common sense, isn't it? Or am I just blessed with the parents that I have?