Three and a half years ago I was fighting for my life. One day I was a healthy, young woman and the next I was plunged into medical crisis. After four trips to the emergency room in as many days and two strokes, I was finally diagnosed with spontaneous bilateral internal carotid dissections (BICAD) in addition to vertebral dissections. Basically the major arteries that feed blood and oxygen to my brain were tearing apart and imploding for no apparent reason, consequently blocking blood flow and starving my brain.
Emergency surgery spared my life. During the surgery, the neurosurgeon discovered I only had five percent blood flow to my brain. Post-surgery he told me he was shocked at this discovery and was astonished I functioned for days without having a massive stroke. When you can shake up a neurosurgeon, you know your case had to be pretty dire. He said that I was a miracle and that he would forever share my story with his colleagues and patients.
Looking back, the odds were definitely stacked against me, but thankfully I am one of the lucky ones. I now have four stents in the right carotid artery in my neck and brain. I somehow lived to tell my story with only minor physical deficits.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I am reminded of how truly blessed and thankful I am to be here living and breathing and fully experiencing the gift of life – given another shot when the outcome could have been so much worse. My medical crisis completely changed my life. When you think you won’t live to see your children grow up, experience another sunrise, see your family or your friends, you re-evaluate and take stock of everything in your life.
Craving a New Challenge
After my recovery I decided it was time to shake things up in my career. I was working in higher education in communications but felt the need for a change and was craving a new challenge. During my job search I stumbled upon a communications position in the manufacturing industry. I decided to step outside of my box and go for it. I was hired at Okuma as a marketing communications specialist and thrown into a brand new world of machine tools. I was scared and nervous but excited at the same time. I knew it was time to make the leap out of my comfort zone and it felt good!
It’s been almost two years since I walked through Okuma’s doors and into the world of metal cutting. Everyday I’m grateful for the challenges and rewards I experience here. I’ve learned so much about cutting chips and CNC machines. I’m thankful I get to work with some of the brightest and best people in this industry who truly love what they do. I have the pleasure of witnessing their passion for their careers, co-workers and customers.
Enjoying Our Family
I attend industry events and meet our customers. Okuma is fortunate enough to have customers who treat us like family. Alliance Innovative Manufacturing, Dimension Machine, and Heart of Georgia Metal Crafters are just a few who have welcomed us into their shops with open arms. They share their stories, their personal lives with us and in return allow us to share them with you through case studies and customer testimonials. Our mission statement is “We passionately pursue a customer for life.” Well here at Okuma that’s not hard to do when our customers naturally feel like family to us. We are honored and privileged to share such a bond with our customers and we appreciate them letting us tell their story to the world.
Not a day goes by where I’m not grateful and happy to be alive, sharing my life with my family and work family. I always try to have a smile and focus on the positive even on my worst days. I ask you to reflect on your life. What is your passion? Your purpose? Make your life count and never ever take one day for granted. Life is fleeting. Take the time to reach out to those around you and share your story. I’m delighted I’m able to share mine with you.
If today was the last day in your lifetime, can you honestly say you made the most of it? Who and what are you most thankful for?
Paula Lalli is Marketing Communications Specialist, Okuma America Corporation.