Monday, April 8, 2013

Making a difference

When my mother was dying she told me that I could make a difference by speaking about my stroke.

The basis of my mother's belief was that I could do anything that I wanted to do and she knew that I made a presentation for aphasia group for Idaho State University.

I was one of eight participants at that program. When I did my presentation, many people said that I should present it to different audiences.

Mom knew about the ISU presentation and she encouraged me to do it again.

Mom died in September.

So in January at St. Al's stroke support group I did my presentation.

My PowerPoint had many slides including a slide about how lonely a stroke is. That seemed to resonate for many people.

Last week I did my presentation again in Caldwell, Idaho. I added one slide in my PowerPoint to detail about the impact for families.

For my wife, in an instant, she had to do everything. Take care of me, my son, our finances, arranging doctors and therapies, etc. I have a lot of friends, and my wife got so many texts and emails asking about me. Sometimes, she didn't know who people were!

She was a godsend and handled everything. I can't imagine life without her. I cannot imagine the emotions that she had.

Every stroke survivor and their families have their own stories. This is just my story.

So when people ask me to do my PowerPoint, I try to envision that it's just not my story. I am hoping to give a voice about strokes, possibilities, and limitations.

And limitations are real. Even now, 15 months later, When I get up I think I need to get ready for work. And then it hits me. I don't really have a job because I can't work at the capacity that I want.

It is incredibly frustrating to realize that I had a stroke. Really? I had a stroke? How could that be?

And then it hits me. Life is so different now. Just like other stroke survivors and their families.

I am so grateful that I can do my presentation to help other people and their families.

Mom was a visionary in that way I guess. She knew that I needed to have a purpose. Even the last week of her life, She said "do not give up, Mark."

I won't.


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