Inspiration: Anissa Mayhew, Stroke Survivor, Aims for Honesty
"This was me," says Anissa Mayhew, "before I got married, had three kids, had a stroke, had a toddler with cancer, started a blog, then had more strokes, and became inspirational. You may not be able to tell from there, but I am totally rolling my eyes."
Yes, Anissa was a young mother of three, a blogger, leading a normal, busy life. Then she had a stroke. An actual brain attack. Something that only older people are supposed to have. It wasn't too bad, as strokes go, and she was able to recover. But then, six months later, her 2 1/2 year-old daughter Peyton was diagnosed with leukemia. While she was going through treatment, her husband had to move to another state temporarily for his job, so she was essentially a single mom for a year and a half. Eventually, however, Peyton finished her treatment and survived, and her husband moved back. Everything seemed back to normal. She enjoyed having her family back together and healthy. Then she had two more strokes. Bad ones. She went into a coma after the last stroke, and was not expected to survive. The doctors told her husband to bring in the children to say goodbye. It got that bad.
But that was actually Anissa's turning point. That's when she started to recover. It took her a while; she spent over a year progressing out of the ICU, then a regular hospital ward, then a nursing home, then finally a rehabilitation hospital. She's actually only been home a couple of months. But she's been blogging for years now, and it's through that blogging that her amazing humor and interpretation of life comes through. Visit Hope4Peyton, where she first started blogging to keep family members and friends abreast of Peyton's progress through cancer treatment, and you see the beginnings of her reaching out to the world. Visit FreeAnissa, and you get a better feel for who she is, in posts with titles like "I Shouldn't Have Traded Those Stem Cells for Pizza Rolls" and "Sometimes Progress Can Be Measured in Shrimp." By the time you visit AimingLow, a site where she and her contributors "strive for anti-perfection," you'll be LOLing, maybe on the floor, and crying at the same time.
Today, this is Anissa:
Some parts of her don't work as well as before, and she's confined to a wheelchair, but she's alive and she still has all three kids and her hubby. As she says, "I still love to laugh, I love my kids, and I love bacon." She has to work harder to blog and to tweet, since she can only type with one hand, but she feels a greater sense of accomplishment when she does, in proportion to the increased difficulty.
Says Anissa about her recovery: "By choice, I sort of had to recuperate in the eyes of the public. It was important for me to let others know that if I could get through what I did, then they could get through anything too." When people tell her they couldn't do what she does, she says, "you'd be surprised what you can do when you have to." Most often, she's thanked for her honesty. She says, "Any time you are honest about who you are, and you connect with people, that connection is more meaningful."
In her mind, she's just telling it like it is.