Interview: Anissa Mayhew Talks to BlogHer about Her Stroke, Her Recovery and the “Amazing” Support

8 years ago

Many of us know Anissa Mayhew as the ass-kicking, hard-charging author of Hope4Peyton and Free Anissa. Last November, we suddenly met her husband, Peter under circumstances we would never wish: Anissa had just suffered a massive stroke. He posted on her blog:

I really just keep feeling like I’m in a bad dream. Do these people not realize who they are dealing with? This is Anissa Mayhew. The strongest, most amazing woman I’ve ever met. She’s thirtyfreakinfive and can move mountains with her smile. She can beat this.

There was some hand squeezing the first evening. Baby step, but encouraging.

Then came the news of the second bleed.

We waited, collectively.

"(heart)4Anissa" started popping up on people's Twitter avatars. Many bloggers posted asking for help. A PayPal account was set up to provide her family with financial support to pay all those bills.

And we waited. We waited with Peter.

Please pray for our family.

I’m going to need to lean on you all. I’m not as strong as she is.

It wasn't all sad. Peter is a funny guy.

The memories aren’t fully. She knows I’m her husband, but couldn’t recall my name until today. She thought it was Daniel. Probably Larusso.

And the community watched, and waited, and sent gifts and made videos and passed the hat over and over.


Love for Anissa! from Undomestic Diva on Vimeo.

And finally, Anissa came home.

She's ready to rejoin the community, but we're going to have to slow the hell down and make it something she can participate in. Peter writes:

She also got on twitter and chatted a bit with folks.

That’s a big step for her. She’s developed a slight fear of technology, because of all the things she was able to do before, she simply can’t do now. Things move too quickly for her. In an online world where a quick wit and fast typing were once her strong points, she’s having to process stuff slower, type one handed and struggles to keep up. But the key thing is that she’s trying, and loving it.

I DMed Anissa yesterday to ask if I could interview her about her experience and the reaction of the blogosphere. I'm an idiot. I asked if I could call her.

I know intellectually that this is a woman who just had a stroke -- who was in a coma -- and I thought she could talk to me on the phone. That's how easy it is to intellectually know something but not really to understand it, and I think that's what Anissa is worried about -- that we won't have the patience to wait for her as we strive to keep from squashing her with our excitement that she's back.

She patiently explained she was better on chat. I felt like a total ass, but she wouldn't let me.

We chatted last night for about 45 minutes. She said she doesn't remember anything from the hospital, only the nursing home. The first thing she remembers is waking up there with her husband and kids and not knowing why she was there.

I asked if she had read what Peter had blogged while she was in the hospital. She said she had read it to a point but then stopped because it was too hard.

I said she was so strong and brave, and she said, "Oh, I'm really not. You know me ... we do what we have to do."

I asked if she felt all the messages coming in from the blogosphere had seemed weird or intrusive or if it was all good. There was a long pause, and then she said she was happy to know that people really cared.

Right now, Anissa is in rehab five hours a day, five days a week, working on physical, speech, occupational and group therapy. Her right side is still numb. She can talk, but not with her whole mouth. She's in a wheelchair and struggling to make her whole body work.

When I started to get personal, I told her I was afraid of being too intrusive, and I could almost hear a laugh coming over Google Chat. She said just to ask, that she doesn't get easily offended. So I asked if it felt weird that people who barely know her are so interested in her life. She told me she's seen it with the Spohrs. "Heather's one of my besties," she wrote.

So here's what Anissa wants you to know. She's worried we'll be disappointed in her because she's not fast right now. It took 53 minutes for us to have a chat that normally would take about 15 minutes. Her brain is not slow, but her typing is.

She wants to thank everyone for the support you gave Peter. She wrote, "They gave my husband lots of support. He didn't understand the blog world, and they wrapped him in friendship. It has been amazing to me. I loved being a blogger, but I had no idea that when I needed them, the bloggers would be the voices I needed to hear."

It was not -- is not -- in vain, guys. Support and love -- virtual or face-to-face -- are support and love. The outpouring of affection and love has made a difference in the Mayhews' lives. Anissa is back, posting on her own blog, and she's going to keep needing to hear from people. Slowly.

She wrote recently about her daughter.

It took a talk.

From the broken mom.

Pete rolled my chair into her room.

Are you mad?

Are you scared?

Are you sad?

Are you afraid?

She was. All the above.

How do you tell a six-year-old that it all takes time? That things will get better if not perfect. That it’s ok to be afraid but you have to be hopeful too.

And you tell your thirty-six-year-old too.

Anissa Mayhew is a force of nature. And so are all of you. Never doubt the power of the human spirit, and of love.

Rita Arens authors Surrender Dorothy and is the editor of Sleep is for the Weak. She is BlogHer's assignment and syndication editor.

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