Meet Helen Little

Have you heard of Fibromuscular Dysplasia?  I hadn't either until I experienced a life-threatening stroke.

You can read my story below about how I not only overcame this catastrophic event but also how my creativity emerged and these shoes were born.

 – Helen Little

 

In the early morning hours on August 12th 2004, I woke tethered to machines beeping and blinking to the rhythm of my body. I could feel my husband, Greg, standing next to my bed. I opened my eyes to read the expression on his face but there was nothing – I'd lost my vision. I clearly remember the night before: a terrible ache on the right side of my neck, my balance off, unable to feel my bath water's temperature and then my words – they strung together and stretched like taffy. When he breathed, "You've had a stroke", I couldn't inhale the thought.

Soon after, I don't know what day it was, I crawled inside myself and stayed there for many weeks, waiting for a hundred pendulums and ticking clocks to grow tired and rest with me. I needed time on my side...

God's presence secured me and time stood still long enough for me to become familiar with my broken body. 

On day thirty five, I was discharged from the hospital and wheeled home in a chair. Tears filled with joy and sadness wet the front of my shirt. I was going home but home would never be the same.

Within a few days at home, my disabilities overwhelmed me. I couldn't walk but could see. I couldn't feel pain or temperature on my left side but I could on my right. My outpatient therapist told me I would walk again. But would I? I never felt so alone, even though I was surrounded by family and friends. What I had didn't mean as much to me as what I had lost. Before fear grew even more overwhelming, I retreated back inside myself.

At my retreat, my family's concerns escalated. Neither my husband nor my children could take care of me. My father and mother-in-law came and took me to their home. I slept in the very bed I had with my childhood friend, Greg's sister, Mary, and where I labored for the lives of two of my three children. Memories spun me a cocoon.

I was blessed by this arrangement because they agreed with me that God would heal me in my sleep. I slept an average of twenty hours a day, my waking hours filled with those daily tasks of eating and bathing, therapy and visiting with family and friends. Thirty days after my discharge I felt better equipped to go home.

At home, I quickly realized I couldn't punch the old time clock. Daily functioning skills, schedules, and the revolving door of activity paralyzed me. I escaped into the game of Solitaire and craved Almond Roca like a pregnant woman. I gained ten pounds back, plus twenty extra.

On October first, for my 49th birthday, Greg surprised me with a trip to Leavenworth, Washington. We drove home imagining how wonderful it would be to live there. The thought of only having three stop signs to the doctor's office and two lights to the grocery store propelled me into moving. Our imaginations turned into a reality. Six months later we nestled behind a hedge with mountains fencing us in. To this day, I still can't believe we made that move. It was a miracle.

Neighbors knocked on our door with delicious desserts inviting us to dinner. I made an appointment to meet with a doctor who had diagnosed a patient with Fibromuscular Dysplasia, a rare disease that attacks mostly women between the ages of 35 and 50. FMD causes sections of the wall of an artery or arteries to look like a string of pearls. The wall of my vertebral artery tore which caused a blood clot and ultimately caused the stroke. I have significant areas of FMD in both my vertebral and carotid arteries. No words can truly express to my attending physician, Dr. Floy Detwiler, how much I appreciate her, but from my heart to hers, she knows.

Two years into my recovery I still climbed in and out of myself knowing it wasn't healthy, but it kept depression at bay. I had heard reading "The Prayer of Jabez" by Bruce Wilkerson for thirty days would show me how one daily prayer would change my life.

I did not want to be known the rest of my life as "Poor Helen", so I opened the little book and read. On day twenty-two I heard a voice inside me whisper, "Start writing".  At first I was amused because writing made me squirm. But reminded myself how much I love to tell stories: true ones and every-so-often sprinkled with a little embellishment. So I sat down in front of a black screen to find what I never found in high school-the home row keys on a type writer.

Days had no nights. About half way through writing my memoir, boredom set in and wondered if I could make something up.

Soon after characters came to life. I talked with Dr. Detwiler about what was taking place in my mind and was intrigued to hear some people receive a talent after experiencing a brain trauma. After that revelation, I went home, sat down in front of my computer, and like a court reporter recorded everything my fictional characters said to one another.

While very nice rejection letters trickled into my inbox, in my mind, I kept seeing a French print  through a transparent sole on a pair of shoes and wondered how I could make them.

My health has almost returned to full measure. I can't take credit for the supernatural power and extraordinary events which which has taken place in my life because God is our healer and still performing miracles.  

To date: One completed manuscript. Two in draft form. Founder and designer of LauraBrittshoes.com.

Investing in lives... step by step,
Helen Little