The Blue Lady Artwork by Rhonda Brew

My life as I knew it disappeared into thin air when I tried to get out of bed on Dec. 26 of 2021. My kids and I had just come back from Florida. Our family had partied at a hotel for my niece’s wedding. I’m glad I had a great time with the kids because that will be the last of fun like that for me, maybe forever!

After returning from the wedding, I drove back to Patagonia from Johnny’s home in Mesa, AZ. I went to bed when I got home. When I tried to get out of bed, I couldn’t. Not knowing why, I slid onto the floor and lay there struggling to reach my desk, where I thought my phone was. 

I figured if I fell asleep for awhile I’d get some strength back, and while pulling the covers off the bed, my phone fell on my head! The screen lit up, spelling ZANDER, so I hit the call button. When he answered, I asked if he could come and get me off my bedroom floor. He said he would, but he wasn’t going to be alone. He called the EMTs. The next thing I knew, I was being loaded into the helicopter. I don’t remember the ride.

At the hospital they put me in an MRI machine and went through my abdomen, then inside my brain, sucking out the clot on the right side. I couldn’t sit up at first, and they had to teach me to swallow without choking. 

I’ve been in a constant state of shock ever since. It was hard to believe that life as I knew it was gone in the blink of an eye, but I was still alive, with the task of getting it back. I had to push past massive pain, both physical and mental. 

Close to my birthday in May, I fell and broke my hip. The board in my hospital room said, “Happy Birthday!” They did surgery right away and had me up and learning to walk again the next morning. The pain was indescribable. 

I’ve never worked so hard as I did in therapy to get back home. I learned to dress myself and walk with a cane, though I still rely on my wheelchair. I make my own breakfast and do my dishes every morning. The plates keep spinning, washing them with only my right hand. But my left arm and hand now have some movement. I am hopeful I will be myself again. Gravity is my biggest enemy.

I have a way to go yet. My left arm and hand finally have movement. I’ve just begun physical therapy at Holy Cross. Therapy is my saving grace. I am hopeful and ready to give it all I’ve got! I remembered something my father said to me before he died. He said, “Rhonda, I don’t agree with anything about you, but you have more guts than anyone I have ever met!” That’s as close as he ever got to “I love you.”

The biggest blessing I can think of, besides not dying from the stroke that paralyzed my left side, is all the contributions and support I have received from the wonderful people in this town. 

Without my son, Johnny, and his fiancé, Kassie, I would not have been able to manage my affairs and the remodeling of my trailer to make it suitable for me to live alone again. 

I had some fun, a lot of laughing when Johnny and Kassie took me home from the hospital to live with them for two months. They were, and still are, very important to my recovery and my sanity. I love those kids! So, once again, a thank you to the community for helping my son get me back home. 

Being gone nine months really seemed like an eternity. I am so thankful that I don’t need a full-time caregiver. I like my privacy – nobody watching my every move. The hard work has paid off. I’m home!