Amazing????

Is this a sign I am going in the right direction?  As I was completing the final edits on my blog this week, I received this from Keith:

Today, I’d like to send you a thought about being happy with your life after having a stroke.

First of all, I realize that this is a weird time with the whole Covid thing going on. It is tough when you can’t see your family and friends like your used to. Even when you do, you have to be careful and “Social Distance” yourself.

Then, with all of the chaos that is taking place for us right now…anger, injustice, racism, and just a question of our own future, it makes for a tough time.

But, I’d like to talk about your own personal happiness right now.

It’s as if no-one wants to show their good attitude to others due to all of the problems we see in our society today.

We feel guilty when we show a positive attitude, especially after having had a stroke.

We ask ourselves the questions; “Who am I to be happy? How can I be the one who is leading the way by being a positive influence out in the world right now? Should I be depressed and down due to what I have went through?”

Please allow yourself the permission and gift of being happy!

Yes, you can be concerned about all of things that are going on in your life currently.

At the same time you can still work toward making your life, and the life of others, a great place to be.

I’ve been generally happy my whole life.

Not that I haven’t been broke and lost it all in the past, failed many times (more than I want to admit), felt tired and ready to give up, moved around and around trying to find my place.

I’ve been depressed and discouraged, especially after having the stroke.

No doubt I’ve also been very lucky, and blessed with so many great friends and family (not to mention my incredible wife) in my life.

But being positive with all of the STUFF we have gone through is a CHOICE!

It is sometimes very hard to change, I get it. However, you can make this change if you need to. 

I am reminded of my own Dad when I am feeling sorry for myself. He has gone through a ton in his life…Had cancer when he was in his 30’s, lost his business, broke his neck (was shoeing a horse, and got pushed over into a huge tractor tire), had a stroke recently, and yet still has a great attitude at the age of 83. We tease him and tell him he has 9 lives!

He has made the choice to be happy.

I know it’s not always easy! It’s difficult to find happiness in life. Remember, you are not the only one that has gone through tough times. We all do.

However, you can make the choice to work on yourself and grow your own joy.

Don’t be ashamed of being the one who chooses to be happy.

It can be a great power for you, and set a great example for those you care about and love.

Have a great week!

Keith

This is the kind of thing I want to focus on in my blog…and I received it AFTER I wrote my blog. I don’t know about you, but I think this was a sign that I am going in the right direction!

How about this….

What if I become a blogger?

I can write about what others are doing…relating to stroke recovery…and how OTHERS can benefit.

I THINK I had this idea before, but I am not sure; you know the reasons!  If I just blogged about it…and silenced my voice, I would hit all the items on my list.

Regarding the list: when the pandemic hit around Covid-19, I had sometime to think about what is next. I looked at new sites, and thought I could add value. I found this one lifeafterthestroke.com where I could add what I learned.  I have it parked on my website (www.mybrainllc.com) until I figured out what to do next.

I will share with you what I wrote down and how I reached the conclusion of what I want to do next.

What CAN I do?

  • Ask questions (I am really good at asking other about their problems)
  • Get people to talk
  • Get people to open up
  • Positive outlook
  • I always smiling

What CAN’T I do?

  • Talk ( I CAN’T talk about myself…even if I have prepared)
  • Talk to people who have communication issues
  • Talk to people who want ME to talk
  • Think clearly

What do I want to do NEXT?

  • What if I could stay in my home and work?
  • What if I could write; it may TAKE a little longer (and the grammar would be simple text), but I could do it.
  • Who would want to talk to me?
  • How can I get them to reach out?
  • Think about the people who have reached out.  How did I handle that?
  • What if I became a blogger about stroke recovery??
  • Could I think of new ideas?
  • What if I added items from other sites?
  • Could I start collecting them?
  • What if I just stayed on my site and did this. Would anyone follow?
  • How do I build followers? 
  • Offer program to stroke survivors through hospitals??

That’s it: I could be a blogger!

  • Work from home EVERYDAY
  • I can write about what interests me
  • No more travel…it  was great for a while, but now it is time to do something else
  • I can now travel for fun…and to see my family

Stay tuned for my life as I branch out into the future; I am excited about what the future holds and how I can transition my site.  I hope you will continue to follow me on my journey.

 

Aphasia…

It was October 2014 when I realized I had Aphasia.

I didn’t think about it much since then.  I wrote about it every year, but didn’t  take into accounted what it really meant.

You don’t realize how frustrating this REALLY is; I STILL can not get my words to come out correctly.

I will give you an example.  Yesterday, I spoke with my friend Keith, who is a fellow stroke survivor. I planned out my talk with him, because I wanted to be prepared.  In my notes, I had planned what I wanted to say… and read it over multiple times.  When Kieth called me, it want great. Then I wanted to explain why I wanted to talk; it was a disaster!!!  I taped the conversation (I will share if you would like to hear it) and I still can’t believe it!  I just mumbled my words and couldn’t get the correct meaning to come out.  Keith was gracious and he will let me know once he talks with his contacts. Keith is supposed to call me in a few weeks, but I don’t have my hopes up.  Really, I don’t think he  could understand why I called him.

How did this happen?  I want to do something different, but I can’t get it out.

What happens if I still can’t speak?  How do I work my way around that?  Regarding my plan in my October 2014 email: I still can’t do it (the scripting of calls)…even after 6 years!!! Look at what I said about Aphasia in October 2014.

I want to be of value; I just need a sign of what that will be.

Do You Know How To Tell If Someone Is Experiencing A Stroke???

I am sad about the Oregon Brewers Festival and Oregon Stroke Walk that has been cancelled…among many others events around the country. That said, I am now starting to focusing on events happening NEXT year.

My friend, Keith Taylor, stresses the importance to look for when someone maybe experiencing a stroke. This CAN and WILL save lives…and I know that would be important that would to share!

Painful Blessing: Epilogue

Do you believe it?  The Epilogue is now complete!  Jill didn’t want to write another book, so she agreed to write this 5 page Epilogue: her reflection of what happened over the past 12 years.  Please send this to ANYBODY who has a book.  I hope the email has a BUNCH of likes and gets wildly distributed.  ENJOY!

Epilogue: Is It Over?  

by Jill Krantz Viggiano

We now rounded the twelve-year anniversary of Gordon’s stroke. It is hard to believe our lives have been changed so dramatically for such a long time. The funny thing is that, even after all these years, it still feels strange to me. I still feel out of step with normal life. I struggle to explain our life to anyone who asks the generic question “What do you do?” We aren’t “working,” we aren’t retired, we aren’t sick, we aren’t making any big plans. If I say I am my husband’s caregiver, it sounds like he is incapable of caring for himself and that makes me feel like I am minimizing his tremendous accomplishments in recovery. He does need me for many things and I am his caregiver, but we are more than that. I still haven’t found the right words.

We Decided To Move

We did not stay in our home in Lake Oswego. It became too much for me to maintain our big, beautiful house and yard. As it became clear that Gordon would never return to work, it also became clear that we could no longer afford that life. I remembered that night when Gordon was still in the hospital and I walked around our dark house, saying goodbye to everything we owned. Fortunately, our time there did not end the way I envisioned it that night, but it did end. Our home of 15 years, with our children’s heights marked on their bedroom doorways, is now occupied by a lovely couple who have become friends. They did not paint over our kids’ markings in an act of kindness. I still miss our friends, our neighbors, and our old life, but I know we did the right thing. Like everything else, our new home and our new life is good—different, but good.

Our children are all grown up. Gordon’s stroke and the radical change in our lives affected them both. Their trajectories I described in Chapter 15 have continued in many ways. Neither Rachel nor Tom like to talk about what happened.  They both still like to make fun of their dad when he messes up. Both pursue stability, order, and predictability. Both were happy we sold the house and moved to a new town. 

Rachel has spent much more time with us and seems to have made peace with all that happened. We each have a strong relationship with her. She certainly bears scars from all that happened but she seems to be healing nicely. 

From the beginning, Tom began to withdraw emotionally. Where there was once a warm, loving, sweet child, there became a cold, harsh, young man. I am happy to say that emotional wall he built to protect himself is slowly breaking down. It is always my hope and prayer that the wall will disappear completely. I hope his scars heal nicely too.

Recovery

I am happy to report that Gordon’s recovery continues! His fingers on his right hand began to move at the 4-year mark.  He was able to fully open his hand at the 8-year mark. We immediately rushed him into trying to shake hands with people he met. That created awkward moments as Gordon could only open his hand once, then it clamped shut again—tight. The poor sweet person on the other end of the handshake had to wait as we pried Gordon’s hand loose. At 10 years post-stroke, Gordon could open his hand twice, so handshaking has become possible without taking a prisoner. 

Weird Reflex

A weird reflex common in stroke survivors is that every time they yawn, their affected arm raises up into the air, like they are volunteering for something or are dying to ask a question. For all these years, Gordon yawns, the right arm goes up, and he tries to hold it down with his left arm, like a battle with a possessed limb. Once we got over the strangeness of it, we embraced it as comic relief. Here at the 12-year mark, that reflex is starting to diminish. Positive change is still happening. 

Gordon’s remaining deficits from the stroke have proven to be formidable obstacles. While he has improved dramatically, his cognition continues to be significantly impaired. Cognition refers to all the mental activities associated with thinking, knowing, remembering, and communicating. I often have to repeat myself when I introduce a new subject. At first, I thought he wasn’t hearing me. Now I suspect it is his ability to comprehend what is being said. His brain cannot focus on a new subject the way most of us do. He needs a moment, some context, and often a couple hearings to make sense of what is going on.

Conversation

Gordon is great at conversation—I say something (“What do you want for dinner?”), he says something (“Meat.”). But open-ended questions are difficult if not impossible for him. An open-ended question requires a response that follows logical order: a beginning, middle, and an end. We try to make a game of it when he is struggling to tell me something. He says whatever words he can get out, then he starts over and tries again. We laugh. By the third time I have heard enough to piece the response together. I tell him what I think he is trying to say and we laugh again at how hard it was to get those four or five sentences out in the right order and with the correct words.

The physical disabilities aren’t the big deal I thought they were going to be. We still work on his right arm and we keep active so we don’t lose ground with his right-side strength and coordination. It has become second nature to me to help Gordon with all the things that require two hands. I don’t mind helping and he is always appreciative.

My Life Now

 I rarely think of our pre-stroke life anymore. Once in a great while, my mind drifts to what our life might have been and I get that dull, sinking feeling of loss. It passes quickly as I remind myself of God’s generosity and care for us in bringing us to where we are now. We are healthy, we have a nice home, the bills are paid, we have all we need. All this is nothing short of a miracle. Who gets suddenly yanked out of normal life and career, has no ability to work ever again, and still has all he or she needs? We do, by the grace of our good Lord.

All those years ago, in the depths of my helplessness, I learned to fully surrender my life to Jesus. He has been faithful in His promise to care for us and to use our tragedy for good. We continue to do inspirational speaking around the country. We continue to engage with anyone who reaches out to us when they need encouragement in their struggle. It is gratifying to represent hope and possibility to those around us. 

Surrender

One of the greatest gifts of Surrender is contentment. I am not envious, I am not dissatisfied, I am not resentful. I am truly happy for others who are doing well. Forgiveness is easier. I don’t really worry. I am content. Life is short but my eternity is assured. I know I rest in God’s hand and one day I will see His smiling face. What could be better than that? 

While I am here on earth, it is my hope that I can bring joy with me wherever I go. I hope Gordon and I can be good examples of marriage and commitment. I hope we are a blessing wherever we happen to be. I hope the love of Jesus is obvious to anyone who interacts with me. I hope the pain we experienced only magnifies the blessings we have received. 

Pain and Blessing—Painful Blessing. Sounds like the perfect title for a book.
_____________

If you want to have a copy of the downloaded,  go HERE!

I Know What You Are Thinking….

Wait… didn’t you write to us yesterday?

Yes I did…but I am becoming bored!  Aren’t you?

It is my birthday...and many people are writing to wish me good cheer. So I am sitting by my computer acknowledging the well wishes.

No story would be complete without the mention of the Corona Virus. My guess is that EVERYONE is tired of hearing about it and welcomes when it is over.

You can go back to my very FIRST blog in July 2012 and read how is quickly coming up on my 4 year anniversary of my stroke; that was 602 Blogs ago! Can you believe it has been 602 Blog Posts?

When I started, I figured I can go for 100 of so Blogs; but here I am at 602! My first few year a blogging, I had pictures, but I had to delete them because I was sued.  I guess they don’t appreciate using the photos that other posted on line. Now I pay a licensing fee to ShutterStock so I can use their photos.  I must say, they have some awesome pics.

Anyway, thanks for reading this.

I Bet You Can’t Wait for This!!!!

Yup…Jill is writing an Epilogue to her Painful Blessing story…and I decided to distribute it for FREE…No Charge…to you!

I know what you thinking…How could he forgo all that income from this Epilogue?  What can I say, it is just the way I am.

Don’t expect another book; it is truly an Epilogue.  You will fine out:

  • Am I getting better?
  • What has he gotten back?
  • Can he talk?
  • Will I go back to work?

OK, maybe you know some of the answers, but there are plenty of people who don’t. Of course, you can look at my video file to see the progress I have made so far. But the way Jill writes about her experience brings it to the next level.

This chapter has certainly become an Epilogue; it’s a final review…to date. Jill shouldn’t have a problem connecting with people.  It is the ONLY good thing about this: People now have the time  if they take a break from Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

I don’t realize when I am having an impact…..

Impacting others is a theme I have when writing my blog posts.  Each post, I get an overview of how many people read my blog.  When I write something REALLY personal, I get a large number of readers…and I get personal emails of how I impacted that reader.  When I wrote about retirement a few days ago, I got this response and asked if I can use it in my blog.  She graciously said yes:

Gordon,

I met you and your sweet wife at a Portland Executives meeting a couple years ago or more.

I have enjoyed following your blogs and your journey.  I know you can’t speak but does the typing for your blog still bring you joy?  Your thoughts in the blog are an encouragement to so many I’m sure.  

I was treated a year ago for what was initially thought to be a stroke.  It didn’t turn out to be one however it was a migraine acting like a stroke.  Determined probable cause – stress. Imagine that.  I’ve really worked at becoming unhurried and learning how to relax and enjoy the moments in my life.  Patience does not come easily as you know.  I remember some years ago when my husband was dying of cancer I realized everything in life comes from inside ourselves and of course through God in our lives.  Yet it took me years to begin working on the inside.

It’s not that I don’t think you know any of these things, I have seen much of it in your blog.  I just wonder if you are looking too hard for fulfillment in retirement. Please forgive my thoughts if they intrude or are things you’ve already considered.  Retirement is for what we’ve longed for during our lives, time to give to others, time to study something that won’t make us any money but will enrich our soul.  

Think about what you want to retire from – that is important.  But keep the things that still feed your soul.  I will continue to keep you in my prayers as I think of you.  Keep up the good work, your life is an encouragement to others whether we can speak or not.  

With hugs, Jan