Valerie Kennedy is a mom of four children and she is finishing her family Nurse Practitioner degree. At the age of 36, Valerie was diagnosed with a brainstem cavernous angioma. She found the strength to deal with difficult situations in her relationship with God.
I was an active wife, mom of four children, and nurse manager at 36 when I was diagnosed with a brainstem cavernous angioma. It bled 4 times, essentially like a hemorrhagic stroke, and the last time I was urgently flown to Indianapolis, IN to undergo brainstem surgery to have it removed. I was fully expecting to be recovered and back to work in 6 weeks. God had other plans for my life!
Fast forward to today. It is 3 years later, I’ll be 40 this year, and I am currently working on walking without assistance. I have met wonderful people that I wouldn’t have been introduced to otherwise. Christian friendships have developed and I have a totally different perspective on life. I was angry and frustrated with my situation and I have learned to take everything in prayer to God.
I still get frustrated with my situation and wish things were different. I have had many outbursts and have felt like all of my work is futile. It would be so much easier if I just gave up and accepted where I was. I now have come to the realization that I can’t give up and relying on God to give me the strength I need to get through each day is necessary!
I am currently completing my Family Nurse Practitioner degree. I attend yoga classes two nights a week and go to a gym four days per week. I credit my strengthened faith to my trainer and friend, Traci Melgar. Her Christian attitude has helped me realize it is about the journey, not the destination. The physical strength that I have gained under her direction has been a bonus! This was one friendship that was cultivated after my significant disability and I am blessed to have been introduced to her; I would not have met her otherwise.
I thought my faith was “good enough” before this. God doesn’t create bad situations; instead, He uses us as instruments. I don’t know if I will ever be “normal” again, but my new normal has drawn me closer to God and taught me a new relationship level. This journey has not been a blessing or inspirational for our family, but we have learned how to trust God’s plan and allow Him to develop our path. Keep going! Don’t give up when life gets difficult.
Reflecting on my last three years, one of my many struggles has been the thought “I want my life back!” This has not been an encouraging thought. Instead, I dwelled on the independence and career lost. It finally made sense to me that I have an opportunity to create a better, more beautiful life! It may not look the same, but who’s to say my past was the best? I cannot predict the future, but learning to trust God’s plan has allowed me to have a sense of renewed peace. I believe my best days are ahead!
We also believe that the best days lie ahead Valerie! Thank you for sharing your story with us.
Please consider sharing your story – whether you have Ataxia, are a caregiver, friend, or relative. You may fill out the form below to get started.