Today I celebrate 16 years post stroke

Sixteen years ago, this morning, was the last day I walked without the assistance of mobility equipment before surviving an ischemic stroke to my spinal cord.  As I sit and reflect on that life-changing event, I am recalling how the stroke changed my life, what I have regained, what I am thankful for, and what are my personal goals for coming year.

My back story.

If you are not familiar with my story of surviving an ischemic stroke to the spinal cord while in hospital for an ascending to descending aortic bypass, check out the following book:

Reflecting on my past

This past year I have not seen much growth when it comes to my continued journey called recovery.  I have been able to dress myself, feed myself, turn myself in my bed for neatly fifteen years.  I have been able to control my bladder (for the most part) adequately for more than a decade.  I started using a walker in 2008 or 2009 and I have been using a rollator since 2011.

For the past few years I have been able to balance and stand for short amounts of time (about a minute maximum) without holding onto anything for balance.  I have even been able to, on occasion, take a step or two alongside our kitchen counter, without holding onto anything or using any mobility equipment.

What I have seen is growth in my self-confidence.

The past twelve months I have made some radical changes in my life while stepping outside of my comfort zone and growing.

I left the standardized patient program at the Kansas City University Joplin campus.

I left volunteering in Freeman Hospital of Joplin’s ICU to fine new challenges in my life.

I have joined toastmasters to develop my skills as public speaker.  As a member of two clubs, I am not only growing as a speaker, I am developing professionally with a surprise side effect – my self confidence is soaring to new heights.

Counting my blessings.

Since the early days after my stroke, I have always been grateful for what happened to me.  I know that sounds odd, but I was quickly humbled when I learned it could have been worse.

I thank God that I was able to come home because I met some people at the rehabilitation hospital that may never be able to return home.

I am thankful to God that I can verbally communicate as I know some stroke survivors who can’t.

I am thankful that I am awake and aware as I am aware that some people remain in a vegetated state for years before their death.

I am thankful that I am not on a ventilator for the rest of my life – as I have seen some  who have survived an spinal cord injury depend upon machines to breath for them.

I am thankful that God gave me Kimberly.  She has been by my side through it all.  She has been my cheerleader through the dark times.   I will always be thankful for that.

I am thankful each day for the health that I have.  I know that can be taken away at the blink of an eye.

My goals for myself for the coming year

My goals for the coming year are not centered around my recovery from my stroke.  Remember, I believe that recovery is a life-long journey and not a destination.

My goals for the next 12 moths are:

  • Grow my following on social media
  • Grow the number of subscribers to the P2bA Blast
  • Start speaking to groups.
  • Launch my podcast.
  • Launch a new web site – details to come soon!

If I can regain many of the skills my stroke took from me, I can accomplish my goals.  I believe this because of my life verse Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”