MENOMONEE FALLS - Jamie Garrison has overcome a lifetime of hardship in her 33 years. As she puts it bluntly, "I've been through a lot of crap."
It's that sense of humor that helped Jamie and her husband Ryan get through this past year.
"We're really testing our wedding vows with all this," Jamie laughs.
Jamie had a stroke during brain aneurysm surgery. She explains, "For some reason my blood vessels are sensitive. When doctors were in my brain to fix the aneurysm, I started spasming, and my brain swelled."
Jamie was in the ICU for 44 days. Doctors were almost out of options.
"They really thought I was gonna die," Jamie says gravely.
However, Ryan always knew Jamie would pull through. "There was always kinda something there, even though they had told you she may not make it, she may not make it, you kinda just still felt like, nope, she's gonna make it."
It's been a slow process. Unable to stand, walk, or talk, the rehab team at Aurora had to teach Jamie how to do everything all over again.
Dr. Amit Jhaveri works in Rehab Medicine at Aurora. He says, "The brain is a unique organ in that if one particular part quote unquote dies down." Dr. Jhaveri adds, "There are other parts of the brain which take over the function, and that amazes us everyday."
Jamie's doctors also give Ryan a lot of credit for her recovery. "The optimism in him, along with support to her is a key," Dr. Jhaveri says.
Jamie hopes to eventually get back to work as an interpreter for the hearing impaired. She can still do sign language, despite having no movement on her left side. She wanted to sign a special message for anyone who wants to give up: "That would be the easy thing to do. There are plenty of days I just wanna give up, but it's not gonna help me 2 months, 3 months down the road."
That recovery is a team effort, with the man she loves.
"I think it just kinda comes with... You get married, you do say for better or for worse," Ryan explains.
On top of all this--Jamie is also a breast cancer survivor! She was diagnosed at 30, and had a lumpectomy, chemo, and radiation. There is a website where you can learn more about Jamie's story, and make a donation if you would like.