Spend ten minutes with Gina and Steven and be reminded of the dedication and joy that being in love brings. She lays a gentle hand on him to check in, he gives her a tender squeeze and a knowing look. Gina is expressive and passionate and Steven more cerebral and simple but somehow the mix seems to fit. They met again at their high school reunion several years ago and have been together ever since. Living in Hawaii and Dubai for a stint, they’ve never been too far from each other. This year was no exception, with one exception. Steven had a stroke and had open-heart surgery.

At 31 years old, Steven didn’t have to be told that a congenital heart defect was back to give him trouble, he felt it. Exhausted but hopeful, Steven endured an immediate heart valve replacement. 12 hours later he was back in surgery after complications. Beginning to heal, 3 months later, Steven suffered a stroke and was back in for surgery. This was not the way he wanted to spend this year. He had snowboarding plans.

“I realized what it might be like to take care of a child,” Gina says, “the adrenaline and the want to stay up all night to see if he’ll be ok.”
“It was hard when he first woke up after 8 hours in surgery. He had a tube down his throat and couldn’t talk to me. He tried signing things into my hand. I stayed with him when everyone wanted me to go home and get some rest. I couldn’t leave. He couldn’t wake up alone.”

Steven was able to recover at home under the care of Gina and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Being slow at work, Gina was able to take as much time off as she needed. “My pocketbook may not have liked the recession, but the extra time it allowed me will forever be cherished and remembered.”

Steven is now almost fully recovered and talking openly about how this has changed his life. “The things I need to do now to stay healthy are things I always should have been doing, eat the right amount of fruits and vegetables, take supplements and exercise. It’s a good reminder to take care of myself.’ Steven is back to work full time finally but suspects he’ll never be able to work the 80 hour work weeks he used to put in. His motivation as a Stanford grad allows him a narrow margin for setbacks. Although chatting with him, I wonder if this was all a blessing in disguise.

A few more …

About the currency project

The Currency Project challenges us all to see the beauty through the pain, the positive that can come from a negative and the heartbreak that can turn into a new beginning. Life is uncertain but our faith, hope and love can never be taken from us. Our true currency in life is what we make it.