How did you get started with public speaking?
Early in Gordon’s stroke recovery, when we knew nothing of the journey ahead of us, we naively thought he would be fully recovered in 1 year. We thought we would have a party for all the wonderful people who helped us and we would all celebrate the end of a horrible year. At the 1-year anniversary of the stroke, Gordon was nowhere near recovered so we decided to postpone the party until the 2-year mark. He had to be recovered by then, right? At the 2-year anniversary, Gordon was still in terrible shape so we agreed we would celebrate full recovery at 3 years. At the 3-year anniversary, we finally understood that recovery was probably going to be a lifetime pursuit and that maybe we should just have the party anyway. Gordon agreed but he said he wanted to talk about the experience at the party. It took 6 months to write “My Brain Has A Hole In It” and 8 months for Gordon to practice enough to deliver the speech. On the 4-year anniversary, we had the party and Gordon spoke. The overwhelming feedback was that Gordon needed to tell more people—and here we are!
How are the kids?
When the stroke happened, Rachel was 14 years old and Tommy was 12. If those years weren’t hard enough, adding the chaos and devastation of their dad’s stroke pushed them in ways I never wanted for them. The threat of losing their father and their home as well as the loss our lifestyle and routines was life changing. It was painful, scary, and de-stabilizing. The good thing is that the kids were able to see their parents stay committed to their marriage, be supportive no matter the circumstances, and rely on their Christian faith in good times and in bad. Our kids are young adults now and are choosing their own paths. We are proud of them and the choices they are making. I don’t think we really know all the ways the stroke affected them. They don’t like to talk about it. Our hope is that they are able to move past the sad memories, have strong, stable marriages of their own, and appreciate the blessings of family and faith.
If 100% is full recovery, how recovered is Gordon?
I would rate Gordon as 80% recovered at the 7-year mark. His memory is quite good. We continue to see improvement in the right side of his body. While his right arm has movement, it isn’t useful, controlled movement. Language and cognition are the real problem. He has dramatically improved his ability to converse but extended thought and expression are still out of reach. Add any stress to the conversation and his language stops.