Monday, March 30, 2015

Paul Harvey and strokes

Recently, I read a short article about people in Great Britain returning to work after a stroke. The statistics I read said that about 65% of stroke survivors to return to work after their strokes.

When I was a kid, I listened to Paul Harvey. He would often say “Now you know the rest of the story!”

When I think of that statistic and my strokes, I am amused. "Reading" that article was a massive chore for me. 

After my strokes in January of 2012, the concept of work was terrifying. I was dealing with unspeakable emotions. I did not know my name though I did know my job. However, I could not speak about my job because I could not speak!

In the hospital, one of my therapists said, “Maybe, you will go back to work in November (2012) in a limited basis.”

Throughout those next few months, that was my goal. I assumed I would go back to work. Nevertheless, as the months dragged on and the fog in my brain started to lift slowly, I realized there was no way I could do the job. 

In my career, I was a high profile trade association CEO, teacher, speaker, higher education professional, and a lobbyist. That is a very demanding and challenging job. Here is a portion of my resume:

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
IDAHO ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS: November, 2007 to June, 2012

Responsible for the management of one of Idaho’s largest trade organizations.  Duties included personnel management, budgeting, strategic planning, public relations, fund raising, political representation at a local, state and federal level, coalition building, education, spokesperson training, and acting as the primary spokesperson for the commercial and transportation construction industry in Idaho.

VICE PRESIDENT
IDAHO ASSOCIATION OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY: October, 2006 to November, 2007.

Responsible for public policy development, strategy and advocacy for Idaho’s leading business trade association representing a diverse membership of businesses throughout the state of Idaho.

OWNER/CONSULTANT
ENVISION REAL ESTATE SCHOOL & CONSULTING, INC. April, 2006 to 2008

Founder and co-owner of a consulting firm and school specializing in real estate education, counseling real estate brokers and agents in business practices as well as providing counseling services in association management practices.

DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT RELATIONS
BOISE STATE UNIVERSITY: January, 2004 to April, 2006

Responsible for the development and coordination of university public policy activities and relationships with governmental entities including federal, state, and local governments as well as the business community, peer institutions, the education community, and within Boise State, Idaho’s largest university, including participation on the President’s Administrative Council, the Facilities Planning Council, and other key planning groups.
                                   
INTERIM VICE PRESIDENT OF UNIVERSITY ADVANCEMENT
BOISE STATE UNIVERSITY: July, 2004 to April, 2005

One of five vice presidents working with the university president, the vice president promotes Boise State through a variety of fundraising, public relations and marketing efforts. University Advancement includes the Alumni Association, Boise State Foundation, Bronco Athletic Association, and University Relations.

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
IDAHO ASSOCIATION OF REALTORSâ: December, 1985 to December, 2003

Responsible for the management of one of Idaho’s largest trade organizations.  Duties included personnel management, budgeting, strategic planning, public relations, fund raising, political representation at a state and federal level, coalition building, education, spokesperson training, and acting as the primary spokesperson for the real estate industry in Idaho.

In addition, I was -- am -- a professional volunteer and an elected official.

I was engaged everywhere.

That stopped when the strokes happened.   

My employment ended in June of 2012. I resigned because I realized I could not do the job anymore. The prospect of returning to work in November of 2012 was a pipe dream; however, throughout the winter and spring, I relentlessly did all sorts of therapy with the goal of “returning to work.”

It is not fair for me to say it was a “pipe dream.” The goal of returning to work was not just a goal. It was my incentive to prove doctors and therapists wrong. “I will show you dammit!”

There are degrees of strokes: Minor, major, debilitating, paralysis, etc.   I suffer from exhaustion a lot and assorted health issues because of the strokes and seizures.

What sets me apart is Aphasia, Apraxia, and Dysarthria compounded with medications I need to take for seizures.

For example, I can “read” financial statements. However, I have difficulty expressing numbers. So, I can “read” the number “$2,245,137.15” but, I cannot say it.


I can “read” documents, letters, books, etc. However, it takes a lot of time and I get headaches. I have vision problems. 

Up to two thirds of people experience some changes to their vision after a stroke. I have vision problems in several ways including diminished right peripheral vision, reading, driving, etc.

When “people” say that I am recovered, I smile. I “look fine on the outside.” I am not.

How can I work when 20% of my brain is dead.

So, when I read statistics  “about 65% of stroke survivors return to work after their strokes” that does NOT tell the whole story. 

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