Happy to be alive

I complain a lot about the heatwaves we've been experiencing here in Santa Barbara. I'm a big baby about heat; I just can't tolerate it any more, even though as a teenager, I used to lie on the beach for hours day after day, soaking up the sun. I complain, but the truth is, I'm happy to be alive to complain about the heat.

Almost 20 years ago, I was hit by a car while driving a scooter. I had a helmet, but as this was before helmet laws, I wasn't wearing it. I collided with the car head-first.

That car accident has become a defining factor in who I am today. The head injury led to panic attacks which, while under control now, still dictate where I sit in a movie theater or how crowded an elevator I'll ride in.

I have arthritis in places I probably never would have, but for the injuries I received in that crash. I have a visible scar on my face that permanently changed my appearance, and other scars that, amazingly, remain hidden, but I know they're there. One of the more annoying remainders of the accident is damage to my wrist that prevents me from doing pushups. Imagine -- a workout with no pushups!

So this accident changed me and added a dimension to my life that didn't exist beforehand. But here I am to talk about it, and I'm grateful every day for surviving it.

Today I'm walking with my husband and his co-workers in the Santa Barbara Heart Walk. They've participated in the event for several years, but this year it has taken on a new level of meaning.

A friend and co-worker, Rob Davis, suffered a stroke just four days ago. He's a young man in his forties; this is his second bout with stroke, but this one has proven to be more dangerous. Since Tuesday, he's been in ICU in critical condition. There is a blood clot in his brain which cannot be fully removed. He's gone through two surgeries so far, one to relieve the pressure from his swelling brain. He's under induced paralysis, to keep his brain activity low.

Rob is like the "house mother" to the employees of Lazy Acres. When someone needs a place to stay, Rob takes them in. Rob gives everything and more to his friends. He cooks huge meals, invites everyone over, and then sends us home with entire pans of lasagna -- there's always a veggie one for me and Rudy. If it's your birthday, you can be assured that Rob will throw a party for you, sometimes going to elaborate lengths to celebrate.

Even if Rob were not the generous, caring person that he is, we would still be supporting him, of course. But we all owe Rob for what he's given us. And now, knowing that when Rob comes out of this, he will likely be unable to work, and possibly unable to care for himself for months or years, we want to help with the support he's going to need.

Note the widget on the sidebar of this blog, which I'm using to raise funds to help Rob. I'm going to leave it there until Rob no longer needs our support. We have an ambitious goal of raising $25,000 in the next year to help with his rent and other living expenses. If you feel so inclined, please help to whatever degree you can.

I'm so lucky I got to survive my accident and that I have the luxury of complaining about whatever I want, whenever I want, including the weather. I may complain, but I'm happy to be alive, aware of my surroundings and able to appreciate my life. I hope for the same outcome for Rob.

Go here for information on identifying stroke symptoms.

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