Guess what my mother got as a birthday present on Friday January the 13th 1995? That was the day that an old bearded doctor had a meeting with my parents to give them the verdict. What a birthday present this was for my mother. It was like winning the lotto in the opposite way. His diagnose was that I had a stroke in a small brain area in the back of my head, close to the neck area.
And the consequence is that now I suffer from a rare thing that is called “Locked in-syndrome.” His assessment was that I will remain as a vegetable, and maybe if I am very lucky I can get some little bit of movement.
Don´t you find it funny how people commonly say that parenthood takes sacrifices? I mean, taking care of one’s child/children are in no way a sacrifice. It is just part of being a parent. In 1995, my parents had this huge challenge of taking care of their full-grown daughter just like she was a baby. It should have been the time that they would have to enjoy their life after doing a magnificent job of raising two kids well. The heavens had other plans for them; they had a tough job in front of them one that they would have to do till probably till the end of their lives. Still, they did not doubt for a single second.
Doctors recommended trying out rehab, and of course we did. It was also very hard on my parents. The rehab center was in Helsinki, more than 200km away from where we lived. After several months in rehab, there was much of a change in my situation. The doctors were trying to convince my parents to send me to an institute for the handicapped. Parents were enraged, and they totally refused that idea. They will not let me fade away in a bed in a room surrounded by strangers. Mom and dad weren´t going to allow what happened ruin our lives. They were going to take me home and try to give as much as normal life as possible.
Even with the comprehension of all the effects of taking me home will have on their lives, mom and dad never hesitated about this. I was pretty much like baby, a huge baby. I could not do anything for myself. They had to do everything for me. Everything! And they did just that and much more.
My parent’s house is just an average mid-class Finnish house with a living area, dining room and kitchen on the main floor and the bathrooms upstairs. Not wheelchair accessible at all. The house had to be renovated to accommodate me and my needs. A whole new part had to be built. It had to be spacious enough to move around with a wheelchair. It was like an apartment with a handicap toilet and shower has been added to the once simple house. We had a lot of help from the social office and hospital during this process. They played an important role in raising my quality of life, and I want to take this moment to thank them from the heart.
When Henning and I decided that we want to be together and that the best and easiest thing to do is for him to move to Finland. I bought a townhouse and of course, it had to be renovated and made easier for a wheelchair. I did all the basic designing myself, with some help of my mother and some professionals that would recommend what would be the best and what is needed. You would not believe that it is remodeled to fit an invalid person in a wheelchair. It has no handicap toilet or shower. It is all just normal; only difference is that it is wide and spacious enough to move around with a wheelchair.
The wall between two small bedrooms has been taken down to make one big bedroom. The kitchen walls have been taken down to make an open kitchen/dining room/living room area. As in every Finnish home this house also had a small bathing place next to the sauna. But because I rather have a spacious bathroom than a tiny one, we got rid of the sauna and made a big spa like bathroom. I just love our terrace and garden. The back garden use to have just some berry bushes, and a swing. Of course, we had to change that too. We ripped it all out. My brother and Henning made a new terrace. And the landscaper Päivi Avela did an amazing job designing a beautiful Feng-shui garden which I always wanted. Now I have my very relaxing, beautiful and easy garden with water running down the layered fountain. Lawn shaped like a turtle (brings luck according to Feng-shui), round shaped evergreens. And as a finishing touch are soft, smooth lights.
Some day we will have to move to a bigger more spacious house, but I will never stop loving this first house of mine. This house is a very important part of the beginning of a new great chapter in my life. To show that with pure will power you can make impossible dreams come true without even moving a finger!