The event was FANTASTIC; I Wasn’t

I felt GREAT. Now, after 9 years, I would wake up at 8:00am and got to bed at 11:00pm…and I wouldn’t even have to take a nap!

My friend, Keith, invited me to this event to raise money for stroke survivors and caregivers. I had a few minutes, so I looked at their mission:

To assist stroke survivors and their caregivers through the utilization of rehabilitation technology, research and treatment of the stroke disease process; and to provide support with community integration for daily life, recreational and vocational pursuits

This signified what I was doing. Keith was a  stroke survivor and he thought I should hear about this. He was right: I purchased tickets for Jill and I.

We got there at 7:00pm and everybody was SO NICE.  We enjoyed wine for an hour and then we sat down for dinner.

Mara, one on the organizers, spoke briefly, thanked everyone and said why we were all here.  I thought to my self:  I feel blessed to be included!

We had two of the courses. But now something WAS wrong.  My wife ask me if  I wanted to leave. I looked at her and said “No, I feel great.”  But I didn’t feel great…but  I thought it didn’t show.  I didn’t remember much from that time on; I guessing it was 9:00pm.

I sat there but I don’t know what happened.  A little after 10:00pm, my wife could tell I was in trouble.  She quickly dragged me out.

The next phase was a blur. I remember walking up the next morning in my bed.  I didn’t know how I got there.  The last thing I remember was a leaving the night before.

Could it be that I was drunk? I had 2 glasses of wine in two hours followed by a few glasses of water.  So, No.

I think the MESSAGE was great, but maybe I should waited another couple of years before attending again. I hope the other attendees didn’t see me leave. It was kind of embarrassing!

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

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!