What was the number 1 reason people loved the talk?


IMG_0241This was incredible!

That was the site of my second talk.  My first talk was at 8:30am and the site there was the best I have ever seen.  Did we get pictures?  No!  Jill and I were in awe…and we forgot to get any pictures.  You will just have to take our word for it: AMAZING!

After I was done with my talk, they had a break and I was able to give each attendee  a book.  The sales people who came up to talk to me were so thankful for my message of hope, faith and empathy.

Afterwards, I rested up for my second talk of the day.  I am scheduled to call this week and review the pluses/negatives of my talk; I will let you know how it goes.

I heard of some photos taken by the Deloitte photographers that are incredible; I can wait to see them!  I will also share with you once I receive them.

So why did they like my talk?

Tom Lutz, Director of Sales said:

“I invited Gordon and his wife Jill to be the keynote speakers for Deloitte’s National Sales Meeting and they knocked the cover off the ball! I’ve hired sports heroes, navy seals, and other terrific motivational speakers in the past but Gordon’s story was the most powerful. The hundreds in attendance unanimously agreed that Gordon’s inspirational story of loss, recovery, hope and faith was a real eye opener and provided all of us with a reminder of what’s really important in life.”


What is the most powerful word???

I keep running forward!

People’s reactions to our sharing our story and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable in public have been varied but overwhelmingly positive.  Some people feel safe telling us their own health struggles.  Some people resolve to make their marriage a priority.  Some people grow in both their understanding of and compassion for those near them.  Some people scold themselves for obsessing over small problems.  But nearly all people use the word “hope.”


Hope is powerful, filled with possibilities, and is the thing most people need to get themselves out of bed in the morning.  Hope is what kept Jill and me working on the same exercises every day for years.  Hope kept us believing things would get better if we were willing to work for it.  Hope is what we bring to every speech.

Sometimes survivors and their spouses reach out to us privately.  Without exception, they ask us how we have kept moving forward, how we have been able to face the recovery work that seems too hard or pointless, and how have we kept a positive attitude.

The answer?  Hope.  Jill and I have an unshakable belief that together, each day can be a little better than the last.  We set goals with ridiculously aggressive time frames, rarely achieve them, but have great fun trying.  We don’t worry about looking less than perfect—I’m disabled!  I will do the best I can with the body I have.  As long as I keep trying and we can laugh, who cares what I look like?

The only way we lose… is to lose hope.  Sure, there are still big questions for us:  Will I continue to recover?  Do I have a chance at normal life ever again?  I say YES!  I keep getting better everyday.

OK, can you tell that Jill wrote this?  Isn’t she incredible?  I think so!

How Stroke Affects Cognition Over Time

                                                   Provided by Shutterstock

Posted by Lisa O’Neill Hill

A new study has found that people who have survived a stroke may continue to have challenges with their thinking years after the brain attack, and that those challenges may get worse. The study is one of the first to follow cognitive decline in stroke survivors over a long period of time.

The study, published in JAMA, was conducted over the course of six years, and suggests that stroke survivors may need to be monitored for cognitive impairment long after their strokes.

Unlike previous studies, which have suggested that cognitive decline doesn’t speed up after a stroke unless another one occurs, the recent findings suggest the opposite.

New Long-term Expectations

“The information is useful as education for patients and their caregivers to understand what might be expected in the long term after a stroke,” said Richard D. Zorowitz, MD, Attending Physician, Outpatient Services, MedStar National Rehabilitation Network in Washington, D.C.  “This may allow patients, their caregivers, and their physicians, to anticipate potential issues that may arise in the future and plan appropriately for them. In addition, there may be medications, such as stimulants like Ritalin, or dementia drugs, that may slow cognitive decline over time.”

The study included 23,572 people from the United States who were 45 or older. They did not have cognitive challenges when they entered the study. Out of the group, 515 people had strokes—470 ischemic, 43 hemorrhagic and two of unknown type. Researchers said the people who’d had strokes were more likely to have health problems such as higher blood pressure and diabetes, be older, and be male.

The stroke survivors had a “significantly faster” rate of cognitive impairment compared to the people who hadn’t had strokes.

Specific Areas of Cognitive Decline

Stroke was associated with a decline in verbal memory, new learning, and global cognition. Compared to the non-stroke group, stroke survivors had more challenges with global cognition and things like reasoning and problem solving, but not with new learning and verbal memory.

The findings may affect the future of patient care, research, and health care policy.

Survivors, now monitored before they’re discharged from the hospital and in rehab settings, should be checked for growing cognitive impairment years after their strokes. Cognitive decline greatly increases the risk of death, depression, dementia, and functional decline, the study said.

We are answering your questions…3


How is your marriage now?
Our marriage is good!  It is a good thing because we spend all day, every day together.  All the things that made our marriage good pre-stroke are the same things that make it good now.  We appreciate each other’s strengths, work ethic, sense of humor, and willingness to compromise.  We have created new routines that work for both of us, giving us some variety in our days.  We have found our New Normal and we have found peace.

If you could give your pre-stroke self any advice, what would it be?
Buy more disability insurance!!  The financial pressures of disability are not fun.  Fortunately we had some disability insurance—thank God.  Without it, we would have lost our home, I wouldn’t have been able to stay home and take care of Gordon or be there for the kids.  Our outcome would have been completely different, and not in a good way.  We don’t have much, but we have enough to provide a stable, relatively normal home environment.  What a blessing.

How has stroke changed your lives?
Every part of our lives changed because of the stroke.  Gordon’s active, successful, productive life as a sales consultant is over.  My life of being active and involved in the community is over.  The plans and vision we had for our future are gone.  Our resources are limited so our opportunities are limited.  It took time to make peace with these changes.  We all mourned the loss of the life we worked so hard to build.  However, our new life has its blessings:  we appreciate each day we have together, we don’t worry about the future, we are grateful for what we have.  It certainly is not the life we planned but it is a life still filled with joy, love, and meaning.

Why did Jill write Painful Blessing?
I wrote Painful Blessing for several specific reasons, none of which were that I was dying to be a published author.  Reason #1: acquired brain injury, such as stroke, is devastating, scary, and lonely.  We can’t be the only people to experience the crazy unpredictability brain injury brings, but it sure felt like it.  Reason #2: even after all these years, recovery is ongoing.  There have been no shortcuts, just relentless hard work.  Reason #3: We want to bring hope to others going through their own challenges.  We encourage people to examine their life’s foundations.  Are those foundations unshakeable?  Reason #4: to encourage people to persevere through their challenges.  Life will probably be different on the other side but that is ok.

What role did your Christian faith play in your story?
Our Christian faith is the sole reason we are a success story.  When Gordon was lost in the fog of his stroke and I was facing the terrible realities alone, only the knowledge that my loving Savior was carrying me kept me from stepping in front of a bus and making the whole thing end for me.  Well, Jesus and love for my children kept me away from a bus.  Gordon’s is a story of recovery, mine is a story of surrender.  When I gave up thinking I had control, fully surrendered to God, fully acknowledged His power, and fully put my life and our future in His hands, everything was better.  Trusting Him allows me to accept our new life and embrace each day as it comes.  He has never failed me.

What are your favorite audiences?
My favorite audiences ask questions and engage in wonderful discussion after we speak.  I love the interaction with those who are willing to share, question, and relate to our talk. Each audience listens from its own perspective:  medical professionals, business professionals, young people, old people, men, women, survivors, caregivers, and everyone else.  The questions and discussions reflect the personality of that audience.  Everybody experiences obstacles at some time in their lives and our story is really about overcoming obstacles.  Our time together is meaningful and interesting and we all leave the room with hope.  I love that.

Jill Viggiano

Jill is amazing!

Gordon and Jill Viggiano crop

Mike Lee was all set to interview both of us…but only one could speak.  Can you guess who that was?  Jill saved the day…again.  Here is the full interview…uninterrupted by commercials.

TrueTalk800 color logo 102014

What 7 years of recovery looks like…

My stroke was 7 years ago this month.  We have worked on recovery every day since I woke up, unable to move the right side of my body.  This video of me at therapy shows how far I have come!  Yeah, my movement is not perfect but I can lift my arm over my head, open and close my hand, and roughly engage my fine-motor skills.  WOW!

My physical trainer, Ryan Rockwood, filmed me.  My thanks go out to Ryan and the great people at the OHSU Center for Health and Healing for their consistent support and encouragement throughout my recovery.


You are live???












Yup!  image001

Mike Lee heard so many great things about me, that he want to interview Jill and me.  Unfortunately, I did not communicate with him that my verbals skills were EXTREMELY weak.  He found that out after a few minutes.  Luckily, Jill was able to help.  I rephrase that: Jill carried the entire interview… I said maybe a couple of words.   I must say, Jill was fantastic…then again, she always is!  Mike said he would send me the audio file so you can listen and I hope to have next week.

Mike Lee  ‪#‎DifferenceMakers‬, 1pm Fridays & 11am Saturdays PST on True Talk 800Gordon and Jill Viggiano share about their “new normal” after Gordon’s near fatal stroke dramatically changed their lives. Read Jill’s book, “Painful Blessing: A Story of Loss, Recovery, Hope, and Faith.”

'#DifferenceMakers, 1pm Fridays & 11am Saturdays PST on @[111824588848797:274:True Talk 800]…@[710352915:2048:Gordon] and @[100002531756189:2048:Jill Viggiano] share about their "new normal" after Gordon's near fatal stroke dramatically changed their lives. Read Jill's book, “Painful Blessing: A Story of Loss, Recovery, Hope, and Faith."<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> mybrainllc.com<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> www.createspace.com/4735394<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> www.truetalk800.com'

We were featured in AphasiaToolBox!


Gordon and Jill Viggiano is a couple who were on the fast track in life. Gordon was a successful sales executive, consultant and entrepreneur; Jill spent 19 years working in commercial real estate before retiring to become a full time mom.   All that changed when Gordon turned 51. On his 51st birthday, Gordon suffered a massive stroke with aphasia.

Gordon is now 7 years post-stroke and he is happy to report that he is getting better all the time. He is certainly not fully recovered from his stroke so this isn’t an “I did it and you can too” speech. Says Gordon: I am in the middle of my recovery and so my perspective is from “the trenches.”

In his presentation “My Brain Has A Hole In It,”he discusses this life changing experience and the lessons that have come along with it. his goal is to inspire people and help them see that good things can happen, even when one doesn’t think it is possible.

Despite his aphasia, Gordon is an inspirational and motivational speaker;  You can book Gordon for speaking engagements; visit his website: mybrainllc.com

Gordon’s wife, Jill, focused her skills and energy on his recovery and is now assisting him in his day-to-day needs as well as in his speaking career.  Jill’s book – Painful Blessing: A Story of Loss, Recovery, Hope and Faith, is about her spouse and caregiver experience, shedding light on the real life impact of acquired brain injury, and providing hope and encouragement to those facing significant challenges.

Additional articles on Gordon and Jill are available.

If you have questions about how Aphasiatoolbox.com can help you and your aphasia , please contact us or call us at 724-494-2534. 

For a viewing of the complete email, click here.

Help me understand…

One of the chief reasons I wrote “Painful Blessing” is to give hope and encouragement to caregivers, survivors, and generally those who are struggling.  Our story happens to be about stroke but there are many common threads with a variety of challenges.

We have observed that hospitals do not carry books of hope and inspiration in their gift shops.  This doesn’t make sense to me.  Honestly, I can’t think of a place where more people are struggling than in a hospital.  There are cookbooks, comic books, best sellers, classic literature and even a few “bodice rippers,” but no Bibles or books of inspiration.

What do you think about that?  Help me understand…

Jill Viggiano

They put your book in the gift shop?

IMG_0363Recently, I was walking through the hospital where Gordon spent his first few weeks post-stroke.  As I walked through those familiar halls, I noticed that the hospital’s gift shops offered many books for sale, none of which dealt with recovery, hope, or encouragement.  I was shocked!

Gordon and I immediately decided to pursue getting “Painful Blessing” into a hospital gift shop.  After all, we cannot be the only people who need encouraging words and hope to get through those awful, early days.

As of this week, “Painful Blessing” is available in the gift shop at OHSU!  I pray copies of the book get into the hands of people who need it, whoever they may be.  I pray that they will be encouraged to face their challenges and to hope for the blessings that God has for them.

Jill Viggiano