"Life is like a monkey…"
This is a phrase used by Steven that I never paid much attention to. The phrase can be ended numerous ways, none of which I ever really thought were funny or useful. Now I see this phrase, (and Steven's unique take on monkeys,) as a poignant philosophical view of life as we choose to live it. More on this later, but first I must tell you Steven's Story.
Steven T. Hill was born and raised in Lexington, Massachusetts, where he was surrounded by loving parents, dear friends, and an ever-so-annoying little sister (that's me!). I can honestly say that Steven was the most caring, ever-present big brother that a sister could hope for. I watched adoringly as Steven grew into who he is today: a compassionate, fun-loving, talented young man. A whiz with computers, Steven also enjoys spending time with his wife and nearby family, playing with his two adorable cats, working on his cars, jamming on his bass guitar, golfing with friends, and traveling.
On a recent trip to Jamaica in May 2009, Steven woke up one morning not feeling so well and complaining of pain in his right arm. He suddenly collapsed and had a seizure, and was rushed to a nearby local hospital. With the onset of a second seizure a few short hours later, doctors realized that Steven's health was deteriorating fast and that they were not equipped to deal with such a major trauma. He was quickly transported to a larger hospital in Montego Bay, where he was given a CT scan. The scan showed that Steven's brain was bleeding heavily. Doctors knew he needed to be transported as soon as possible to a major hospital in the United States. At this point, the right side of Steven's body was already paralyzed.
Steven was transported to Aventura Hospital in Florida via med flight at midnight that same night. With his wife, Tanya, by his side the whole way, Steven quickly drifted into unconsciousness. We didn't realize how serious his condition was until the next morning, when doctors shared with us that Steven's case was 'extremely critical,' with every passing minute more precarious than the next.
Steven, at the young age of 33, had had a massive stroke. However, due in part to a rare blood condition known as Protein C Deficiency, he specifically had what is called a Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis (CVST). CVST is a rare form of stroke that results from a blood clot of the dural venous sinuses, which drain blood from the brain. This meant that Steven's brain was both bleeding and clotting at the same time.
As it turns out, Steven's case is very rare, unusual, and incredibly severe. The doctors needed to relieve the swelling of his brain, somehow clot the bleed on his brain, and at the same time thin his blood in order to get rid of the clot. Steven has had several major medical procedures, including a hemicraniectomy, where doctors removed a piece of his skull so that his brain could swell without restriction. This piece of skull is stitched into his abdomen, and will be reattached at a later date.
Steven is currently recovering at home, after spending approximately six weeks at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in 2009. He recently completed an intensive speech therapy program at the University of Michigan Aphasia Program (UMAP) and continues to attend weekly speech and occupational therapy. He also participates in group outings coordinated by Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital at which they work on skills such as ordering food at restuarants and making purchases at the store. Steven has many supporters and people who love him, and with the continued success of this Foundation, he will have the financial means necessary to help him on his long journey back to life, as he knew it.
Which brings me back to that phrase: "life is like a monkey"…
Steven has always been ready for life's adventures as well as its challenges. He's always willing and able to swing from one hardship to the next roadblock, and he eventually finds a way to climb up to the top of it all and enjoy the view. To this I say, "Steven, you are now truly that monkey. Climb like hell and surprise us all!"