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WITHOUT WARNING: A STROKE AT 29The Story of Heather Russon

Written by Heather Russon

March 20, 2012
One Sunday after church, I vividly remember standing in the kitchen and my husband saying to me, "I love you Heather."  That was nothing new, he told me that every day.  But at that moment, the Holy Ghost whispered, "Listen to what he is saying, you may not hear it for a while."   Within an hour or two my husband, at the age of 29, had a massive stroke.
The next 24 hours were a blur.  I remember the doctors telling me that he could be a vegetable.  I remember priesthood blessings.  I remember feeling numb and confused.  But most of all I remember sitting by my husband’s bed in the ICU and praying—praying for my husband to be healed, praying to know what to do, and praying that our four children would not be scared.  While I poured out my soul to my Heavenly Father I clearly heard the words, "let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."  At that moment I felt at peace.  I knew that my husband’s life and our families’ lives were in the Lord’s hands.  And I knew that I could trust him!  

Members of our ward rallied around us to help our family through this difficult time. Priesthood holders brought the sacrament to my husband in the ICU. He was not allowed to eat or drink anything unless he was tube fed.  Our sweet nurse allowed Neal a crumb of bread on his tongue, and one drop of water.  As the Sacrament prayer was said, we wept.  I listened to the promise "that ye may always have his spirit to be with you."  That is a true promise. 
 

Ward members and family members prayed hard for Neal and I, and I felt those prayers carrying me through those first few months.  If you have ever doubted that your prayers really make a difference, I promise that they do. 

The Elders Quorum President visited Neal in the hospital and taught him about Joseph Smith and the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, because Neal had lost that part of his memory.  Neal learned to read again using the Book of Mormon.  I watched him relearn the gospel and saw the light return to his eyes as he learned the truths that his soul never lost. 

One day the Bishopric came to visit and as they left, the Bishop left a special blessing on our home.  He prayed that angels would stand at each corner of our home.  After that day, there was not a single person that entered our home that did not comment on the spirit that they felt there. 


Since that time in our lives, we have had three more children.  My husband has made remarkable progress.  His body and brain never completely healed but he has been healed exactly the amount that his Heavenly Father wanted him to heal, which is just the right amount to live a wonderful life! 
 
I have learned that my Heavenly Father knows me.  He is in control and when we put our trust in Him, we need never fear.  He has been by our sides every day of our lives and surrounded us with tender mercies, blessings and miracles.  This experience has taught me that the gospel and family are what matter most in life.  

We all have our trials and tests, and we each have the opportunity to come to know our Heavenly Father and his Son Jesus Christ.  They are always there and always blessing us if we just open our eyes.

Months after Neal’s stroke, still unable to speak, but finally able to write again, the first thing he printed was, "Heather, I love you."  That same message, from a loving, Heavenly Father, has been written in my heart again and again, with many miracles and blessings as evidence. 


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