How Two Women Survived Major Health Challenges
By Elisa Zied
As Ella Fitzgerald has sung, “Into each life some rain must fall.” But sometimes, seemingly out of nowhere, people experience a downpour that rocks their world like nothing else. Although I’ve never personally experienced a truly debilitating health issue (knock on wood), just six months ago, my mother went through three surgeries during a five-week stay in a hospital and rehab following an unexpected brain aneurysm bleed. I even wrote about my experience helping her recover while still caring for myself. I’m happy to report that despite persistent fatigue and the fact that she doesn’t always feel quite like herself, my mother is living her life, enjoying her work creating a big, beautiful musical based on the life of Liberace, and spending quality time with friends and family – especially her two grandsons.
My mother’s incident and how she handled it, both initially and throughout her recovery, taught me so much. She was an excellent patient who seldom pitied herself and instead relied on hard work and humor – even about her partially shaved head – to recover physically and emotionally. Her experience also helped me connect with two women in their 40s – Helen, 46, a corporate officer at a Fortune 500 company, and Sally Freedman, 41, a banker, both based in New York – who each went through incidents similar to my mother with grace and dignity. Like my mother, they’ve worked hard to turn what they’ve been through into experiences that have helped them grow and inspire others along the way.
None of us ever knows what tomorrow will bring. Of course, the two amazing women I had the pleasure of interviewing never anticipated they’d confront serious health challenges, especially at relatively young ages. But instead of allowing their experiences to ruin them, they’ve done just the opposite, choosing instead to learn and grow from them as well as use them to further challenge themselves. I hope that after reading my interview with them below, you’ll be inspired to live life to its fullest and to nurture your brain, body and mind with good food, fitness, connection and purpose no matter what curve balls get thrown at or around you.