A few years ago, a cousin who is about my age suffered a stroke around Christmastime. We were all stunned as she was still in her late 30's at the time. Imagine our shock and then fear as she suffered another stroke and then another one. This kept occurring and no one knew what was going on. Finally, she was told she had MS. Everyone was relieved it finally had a name but at the same time, something still didn't feel or seem quite right.
After suffering another stroke, the correct diagnosis was made. She had a very rare disease called Moyamoya which in a nutshell meant the walls in arteries in her brain thickened and caused blockage. New arteries formed to attempt to bypass the blockage but they are too small and fragile to handle the blood flow. This means they are at a very high risk of breakage which was why she kept having multiple strokes.
She went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and had the diagnosis confirmed. While this disease usually affects children and surgery is used to treat it, the prognosis is not as good for adults. Especially if they have experienced the sort of damage my cousin had. Surgery was scheduled and she returned home to prepare for it. She had another stroke and the surgery was delayed.
Then she had another stroke.
I remember the night I got a call that she was airlifted to Rochester. She was dying. How we prayed during the night. She stablized and I raced to Rochester the next day. I expected to see a frightened woman. Instead I found a woman who knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was in God's hands and she was safe no matter what the outcome was. She knew God was bigger than Moyamoya!
They kept her at the Mayo Clinic until surgery could be done. Her speech, motor skills and cognitive skills were affected and no one knew how much she would recover. She had already lost inflection in her voice and she could not initiate a conversation, only briefly respond to questions and comments. We prayed.
She surpassed all expectations by doing things she was told she'd never be able to do again. The strokes stopped but the disease continued to progress. She was told she'd have to have brain surgery every five years for the rest of her life.
She was at my house last year for an exam. The disease was still progressing. Physically, things had improved but you could still tell she'd had strokes. In August she was exciting about going back to school. She'd never dreamed she'd be able to do that. Her speech was back to normal. I couldn't believe how well she seemed to be doing.
She had an MRI this week and received some amazing news. Her arteries are completely clear. Her doctor was astounded. The disease had been progressing when he'd last seen her. They were planning to schedule another surgery. Instead, they found completely clear arteries. They sent her home and told her not to come back again unless she really got sick.