This appeared on the National Stroke Association site last week. Check it out!
I was a family man trying to do things right — work hard, provide for my family, follow Christian values. Yet on my 51st birthday, I suffered a massive stroke that nearly killed me and left me with serious impairments. I went from being a healthy, active, no-risk-factor man to being half paralyzed, unable to speak, organize my thoughts, or remember.
The experience has been a true test of faith and perseverance. My wife Jill, and I have worked together in my recovery, facing each obstacle as a challenge to be overcome. Nothing has come back quickly or easily, but we continue to work as a team and hope for the best.
We are now 7 years post-stroke and have surpassed all expectations given with the severity of my stroke. I am certainly not fully recovered so mine is not an “I did it and you can too” story. My journey of recovery is still in progress and will likely be a lifetime pursuit.
Everyone needs encouragement and perspective from time-to-time. We now speak publicly about our stroke and recovery experience and how it has affected our lives, our marriage, our kids, and our faith. My hope is to inspire people and help them see that good things can happen, even when it doesn’t seem possible. Even more importantly, I hope people will see how the Good Lord has been faithful to His word, providing for us and carrying us when we were too devastated to carry ourselves.
Being married to an entrepreneur is a rollercoaster ride of extreme highs and lows but my husband Gordon’s stroke was a low I could not have imagined. Pre-stroke, he had been so sharp and competent. In a moment, he had become severely disabled, childlike, and disconnected from reality. He had no idea how bad he was and for him, that was probably a blessing. His entrepreneurial drive and determination were still intact and he never even considered not recovering fully.
I, on the other hand, understood fully the magnitude of his brain injury and I could imagine what our future might look like. It was a lonely place to be: I couldn’t cry and lament in front of Gordon or the kids. Gordon needed to believe everything was ok—he needed that positive attitude. The kids needed me to reassure them and to make them feel as safe as possible. They were dealing with huge changes to their lives too. I had to be the grown-up.
The sadness and loss stayed with me for probably 4 years. Gordon tried very hard to go back to work as a consultant but he couldn’t do anything without me, so I became a consultant with him. For 2 years he tried to be a consultant again and I had to watch him be unable to even form sentences in front of what Gordon believed were potential clients. His optimism and belief that he could do it all again was essential to ongoing recovery so I couldn’t bring him down. I had to submit to his needs, even though it was painful.
My turning point came when I embraced my powerlessness and asked God to lead me each day. Surrendering my desperate attempts to be in control freed me of the stress and worry that weighed on me. Each day became a gift—still difficult but gratitude began to tip the scale in my favor.
As we continue to fight the good fight for recovery, we speak to audiences about our journey and inspire them to face adversity with hope and faith. My experiences as caregiver, wife, and mother are chronicled in my book called “Painful Blessing.”
I wrote the book for several reasons:
- There is still hope, love, and joy to be had, even after a life-changing experience.
- There have been no shortcuts in recovery. We are still working on it 7 years later.
- We cannot be the only people to go through such a devastating experience, even though it sure felt that way.
Our story is compelling, inspiring, and ongoing–all things I hope will help others in crisis.
Painful Blessing Link: https://www.createspace.com/4735394