I Believe in Myself
by Kolleen Arnold
When I woke up, five days after my brain surgery,
Which, I had suffered a stroke and slipped into a coma,
I wanted my teeth brushed.
When I tried to say that, all that came out of my lips was garbled speech.
I tried to draw a picture of teeth, no one recognized my drawing.
I bit my husband’s hand, the nurse said, “Oh, she wants her teeth brushed.”
I believed in myself.
When I was told what the doctors said,
“Put her into bed and forget her.”
I was mortified, just because I can’t walk or talk
doesn’t mean I’m not here inside.
I just believed in myself.
When I realized all my handicaps, I cried.
I imaged myself as being a burden to my husband, Mace.
I wanted to end my life, but I had an eleven year old son, Albert.
I couldn’t set an example of giving up.
Then I thought of my father, who was shot in college
and became paralyzed from the waist down.
Did he give up? Hell no. He went on with his life.
He taught me that just because your whole body doesn’t work
doesn’t mean that you can’t be a whole person.
I’ll believe in myself like my dad believed in himself.
When I was told what my speech therapist said,
“It’s a waste of time; Kolleen will never talk or have a cognitive thought.”
And my doctor told me I would never walk.
I thought, “You guys don’t know me, I’m a fighter.
You tell me I can’t, I’ll do it.”
I’ll believe in myself.
When I heard the awful news, I looked up the word prognosis,
it means an educated guess.
I was not going to let my life hinge on a prediction.
Instead I believe in myself.
When I took first steps, it was to my mom on Mother’s Day,
the family cried & applauded.
I have aphasia; difficulty speaking, reading, writing, and/or understanding
what other people have said,
but my intelligent is still there.
I make many mistakes talking, but I can speak coherently.
I went back to college and graduated cum laude
in applied science after only three years.
I have many cognitive thoughts.
I believe in myself.
When I finished school, I started volunteering at
the American Stroke Foundation,
Eleven years and still counting.
Because I listen to them other stroke survivors cry on my shoulder,
I try to be an inspiration,
I tell them to believe in themselves
As I believe in myself.
When I realize how far I’ve come in sixteen years,
it’s only because
I’ve believed in myself.