Tag Archives: stroke

Wake Up

Can you imagine a voice, without a body, speaking to you out of nowhere, not once but three separate times? That’s what happened to me the first year after my stroke. The voice, who I am sure was of God, said:

  • You are love

  • Share your story with the world

  • Believe

For a long time I thought that if I spoke too much about this, people would think I’m mad or just another religious fanatic. Plus, I thought, who am I to think God would speak to me. I couldn’t throw Him away, so I subconsciously decided to just bury him as a minor character in my story, Rising Like a Phoenix.

Without fully understanding why, I also had to bury the book until I could understandGodspeaks-cc and accept its true purpose.  This happened just a few weeks ago, when the words in the adjoining poem came out of me. I knew then that for sure I had not written my story but His story.

He woke me up for the first time with the stroke. When I was in the hospital and overwhelmed with love, I was seeing him.  I was seeing my true self. When I was helping other stroke survivors as well as other patients, I was being him (as shown by Jesus). I was being my true self.

I was being my God-self, which is our medicine for healing. This is our path, as believers, for achieving the purpose for which we came here. My journey and that of many others are his testimony to that truth.

I am writing a second edition of Rising Like a Phoenix, with a few modifications to better demonstrate this revelation.  After this, I will get back to A Path to Success, which is all about how we can be Him, be ourselves, and find our success in life.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.

 

Blessing Others – Opening Our Selves for Our Blessings

Real winners of the Heart and Stroke Lottery.
Real winners of the Heart and Stroke Lottery.

Thought I would share the Heart&Stroke Lottery piece to which I contributed. Click here to see. I am the fifth panel. I share this and the piece I recently wrote Good News | Our everyday heroes…(Living Life in The Silent World of the Deaf), to support these organization. I do not make money from doing work for these and other charities; I contribute primarily because of the blessing they can provide to others. I also do it because I must give, and I find it difficult overcoming barriers to paid employment as a middle-aged stroke survivor. I ask for your prayers that this work will also be a blessings to me, as I continue to find my purpose and my place after  my stroke blessing.

You are Increasingly likely to Have a Stroke

Stroke for me was like  a journey into madness.
Journey Into Madness –  Illustration by Ashley Blackwood

If stroke has not touched or disrupted your world, please do not relax. Stroke is the second leading cause of death, and is growing more likely to affect a loved-one, or God-forbid, you!

According to the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, where you can find a powerful video about young stroke survivors:

…recent international studies predict that stroke rates among younger people (ages 24 – 64), will double in the next 15 years.

That many younger people are having strokes wasn’t a big shocker to me, since I had a stroke at 45. However, I still find it hard to believe that 30% of all stroke victims have absolutely no risk factors! I had a stroke even though I was labelled one of that 30% of stroke victims, who had no weight issue, no cholesterol, no diabetes, no high blood-pressure, etc. What that means is that we are all at risk!

As seen in my book, Rising Like a Phoenix: When Life Cuts You Off at the Knees, Available in CanadaUS or at Amazon stores world wide, my life before and after my stroke, felt like a journey into madness.  However, instead of accepting my potentially lethal brain damage, crying my guts out and allowing stroke to kill me, I was pushed to fight back.  I fought back by accepting the madness and the gift that it gives to us all.

I invite you to read my short and very inexpensive book Rising Like a Phoenix: When Life Cuts You Off at the Knees, and together we can help our selves, family and friends heal from this madness.   You can get it in Canada, US or at Amazon stores world wide. If you are unable to buy it, please read the sample chapter available on Amazon, and if you want it and are still unable to pay for it, let me know and I will send you a PDF copy. All I ask is that you do a review.

Together, we can inspire each other to rise in body, mind and/or spirit after stroke and other debilitating illnesses. As seen in my story, we can find a way to replace the madness with gladness.

 

The Day I Crumbled

I read the prologue of my book to a group of writers. They felt that taking people through the experience of having a stroke was riveting. Read it below and tell me what do you think?

It was early Saturday morning, April 28, 2007, two weeks before my 46th birthday. I was a vegetarian and continued to go to the gym five times per week. I was healthy and as fit as an athlete, physically anyway. I believed I was in better shape than many thirty-year-olds.

Feeling sleep in my bones, I rolled my body to the edge of my bed, dangled my feet over and slowly sat up. I dropped my bare feet onto the hardwood floor, allowing my legs to drunkenly carry my body to the bathroom. Yet, once inside the toilet, my body wouldn’t do the functions it always did every single morning.   Even after sitting for maybe five minutes, nothing happened!  Pulled to the mirror by my subconscious or some other unseen force, I slowly raised my body up, shuffled a few steps forward, and gazed into the mirror. I can’t describe my reflection, but my right eye looked troubled.  This could have gotten my full attention, if it weren’t for the tiredness that seemed to be weighing my body down like a heavy load.

“Go back to your bed,” said a silent voice inside me.

I instantly turned around and allowed my head to carry my increasingly droopy body back into the bedroom. As I tried to hoist myself up the 25 or so inches onto the surface of my bed, my arms, legs and every other part of me came sliding down to the ground. It was like an unstoppable avalanche!

I was suddenly like a helpless baby, totally unable to pick myself up off the floor. I thought, maybe hoped, I was dreaming.

Frightfully confused, I crawled on my belly like a senseless, headless chicken, from the bedroom to the bathroom, and then turned right towards the kitchen. It was as if some kind of horrifying madness had taken me over.

I probably would have panicked to death, if Shani, my then five-year-old daughter, had not appeared. I knew then that I didn’t just have to worry about what was erasing me, I had to take care of her.

I somehow told Shani, who I imagine must have been freaking out, to get the phone. Desperately, I tried several times to dial my mother; but each time, after the 3rd or 4th number, everything became so mixed-up in my mind that I was unable to recognize or see even a single number.

A voice inside me said “Dial 911!” It was only 3 numbers.  I could do that.

Knowing the ambulance was on the way reduced the pandemonium that was itching to break loose from inside me. For a merciful moment, the reduced stress enabled my brain to somehow find itself. I correctly dialed my mother’s number, the hardest 9 digits my brain ever had to hold on to.

I did not hear my mother say hello. I have no recollection of Shani taking the phone. I can only remember her quiet fear-stricken voice.  “Grandma, there’s something wrong with Mommy! Who’s going to take care of me?”

My heart felt like it crumbled into miniscule peaces as I heard those words. I could not really see Shani’s face or the frightful tears, which must have hidden behind her desperate eyes; yet I knew she was scared to death.

Soon the Paramedics rushed in, a man and a woman. Working hurriedly outside the kitchen of my two bedroom apartment, they were doing doctor things to me and asking doctor questions, which I was too senseless to know or remember.

Then two firefighters rushed in. They assessed the situation and veered toward Shani, peering silently from the adjoining living room.  My eyes fixed on the two handsome firefighters as they played doll with my daughter, saying comforting little-girl things. I had no doubt they would care for and protect her until my mother came. Even for but a moment, my body relaxed with a feeling of tremendous gratitude.

I cannot recall much about leaving my apartment or travelling down the elevator. Yet I remember feeling some sort of pity for myself, as I noticed the rental agents peering through the window of their ground floor office, and as the Paramedics held adjoining ends of the stretcher and rushed me out the apartment entrance and into the ambulance.

 

The Hardest Story I Ever Had To Tell

apts-b1-cv4God is good, all the time. But He’s not always nice!

Nice gives us our happy times. However, most of us also need access to the ugly, mean, and painful stuff of life in order to discover and realize the very best of ourselves. At least, I did!

In 1971 my little girl self, stepped off the plane, and into the new world of Canada. Since then, I have been fighting against an emergence of cold, mean and painful forces at home, in the classroom and in the office. It was a battle I thought I could win, until I realized. I was fighting me!

At the age of 46, I had a massive stroke. The doctors said they could find no cause!

My life was stopped, like a swatted mosquito, for no reason! I felt as though I was dying without ever having lived, without giving the world the very best of me……..

Click here to read the entire short introduction. Your feedback is always appreciated.

When Spirit Spoke

I am writing a series of ebook about how my stroke made me nothing, forced me to be something, and showed me how to change my fortune. I would like to share the trailer from my first ebook, ‘God Talking Out Loud’. I would love to get your feedback.

————-

God  Talking Out Loud

I was sitting in a wheelchair in the doorway of my hospital room. It could have been sunny, cloudy, or maybe even raining. I don’t remember. All I could think about was the horrible thing God had done to me!

It was the end of May, one month since my stroke. I was physically shattered and mentally crushed. Many people still couldn’t understand me, as my throat muscles for speaking were severely damaged.  I could barely stand-up, much less walk. My right hand was paralyzed. I was completely unable to take care of myself.

‘Why did this happen to me,’ I thought. I was feeling like God tossed me away, and wiped me out, like a worthless penny.

“Who am I?” I spoke out loud, asking the question over and over again.  I knew I was not the healthy, can-do anything, bullet-proof woman, I had pretended to be.

Like the voice that spoke to Moses out of the burning bush, I heard “you are love!” The voice was neither man nor woman. It could only be heard by me; yet it was as real as the air I was breathing.

Perhaps it was the voice of God, or something in or around me that was in touch with God. I know only that it was pushing love to bust loose in me in some way!

Recognizing that I was in a wheelchair, my frail right leg held up on a foot rest, and my paralyzed right hand lying dead on the wheelchair’s tray, my happiness center right brain took charge. With my left hand, I started turning the left wheel of my chair. At the same time, I lifted my left foot up, and began the best one-foot wheelchair-walk ever!

It was as though I bolted out the room, like a Road Runner. I wheeled myself into the hallway, turned right and went directly into the TV lounge, which was right next to my room.

I parked my wheelchair beside a young lady, barely in her thirties, sitting in a wheelchair, watching TV. Her left foot was in a brace and held up by a foot rest. Though her left arm, rested on a tray, and could move a little, it looked as lifeless as she did.

She wore a hopeless look on her face, as though she too had lost faith in God. Normally I would be scared to approach someone so distraught; but this time I was flying high on love.

Maybe she saw the compassion on my face. I don’t know. All I know is that she responded to me with a warm welcoming smile. We talked like friends, though I cannot remember about what. Nothing really mattered, except for the fact that we understood each other’s pain.

That day I went to one patient after another.  Mostly, I listened with compassion to their story, and shared mine. I reminded them that they were not alone, like the voice reminded me.

Though this was great during the day, when night came, I still needed to know what God really wanted from me. What did He want from love?

A few days later, I was waking up from my sleep, when the burning bush-like voice spoke again.

“Share your story with the world!”

I felt as though I had been given a great blessing. I cried deeply, scrunching up my face, releasing no sound, like people do when they don’t want to share their moment. That day I knew my stroke was my contribution to the world, a story of Love!

My brain was injured, my right hand was paralyzed, my thoughts were confused, and my words were jumbled. I was in the perfect place for listening to Spirit, as it began to reveal the way to manifesting and sharing the love and prosperity that had always been with me, with us all.

Seeing People as Trees: The Power of Self-Appreciation

You know those long-lost friends from your childhood or youth? After 30 years, I found one, or should I say, she found me!

I was as gleeful as a kid, until that is, at the end of a wonderful email, she wrote “I will be glad to hear details of your life.” My stomach sank! My misfortunes, I thought, are incomparable to her life accomplishments.

Just minutes after this un-welcomed thought entered my mind, the following email from Ram Dass, plopped in my inbox.

Words of Wisdom

… you go out in to the woods, into the forest and you look at trees and you appreciate trees. You don’t say that tree is good and that tree is bad because one tree is fat and one is thin and one is tall and one is short and that one is bent and one is straight (unless you’re in the lumber business!) For the most part, you just look at the trees and you appreciate them the way they are. They are what they are. And you can appreciate them.

But the moment you get near humans – it’s interesting that you immediately go into a judging mode. You come in to ‘better’ and ‘worse’. And you do that out of your own insecurity. You do that out of your own need constantly to be reassuring yourself. So you’re saying, that person has more hair than I do, or you find dimensions constantly judging, and equating, “am I as good as, am I equal to, am I as good a mother, am I as beautiful a woman, am I as effective at this, a worker,” whatever it is, whatever dimension, and you get caught, constantly living in a judging realm. And if you start to practice seeing people as trees, in the sense of just appreciating what they are, including yourself, you’re just starting to appreciate yourself.

These words compel me to appreciate what my life experience has called me to be, for I am like a tree, whose amazing value can be compared to no other tree. I needed this message. What about you?

Your Body: Are You Using It Or Losing It

This past winter was the best and worst I remember since my stroke. It was the best because I was able to take on various initiatives, and starting to feel like my old self. It was the worst because I was decreasing the amount of time I was spending on active exercise, and this was causing huge problems with my healing.

The muscles on my right side (leg, arm, but, etc.) were tightening; they were stiffening and causing spasms and increased pain in my leg and but. To avoid the pain, I often had to sit and avoid too much movement.  I found myself falling prey to the popular saying:

A body that stays at rest remains at rest.

Sure I was getting the minimum recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise, for I made myself workout for about 30 minutes each day. However, I was also sitting every chance I got. Moreover, everywhere I went, people were aware of my disability and practically begged me to sit.  I was probably sitting less than 3 hours a day!

The pain was my blessing. It got me to the doctor, and made me see the critical need for increasing moderate to vigorous exercise, general movement, and standing.

meditationI began taking yoga to focus on loosening and strengthening my muscles. And perhaps even more importantly, I committed a good part of my day to standing. I don’t yet have the increasingly populardawn standing desk treadmill or standing desk, so I just put my monitor and keyboard on boxes (as seen on the right), so I can stand up and work.

After just 3 weeks, the pain has seriously diminished, and I see signs of the strengthening of my leg and arms. It was kind of cool to squeeze my butt and feel possible re-emergence of some firmness.

I am doing all I can not to become a statistic in health research, showing how sitting is killing our population. I am committed to using the affected muscles on my right side, for I am not ready to lose them. This body is not about to stay at rest, for I am not ready to remain at rest.

It’s Easter weekend. I am taking the opportunity to stand up and move about every chance I get. What about you?

Have a blessed weekend.

Motivating Through Loved-Based Conversations

When I do friendly visits at the hospital,I often see two patients (to maintain confidentiality I will call them Mrs. V and Mrs. L). I estimate that they are in their early 70’s. I have seem them cry sobbing tears as they come to terms with the devastating stroke, which took them from their former strength and independence, to paralysis and total dependence on others.

To motivate Mrs. V and Mrs. L, I engage them in what I call love-based conversations. When I push their wheelchairs or sit with them, we share life stories that are filled with hope and optimism. When we talk of the stroke, I share my own long ordeal, and the hope that lead to miraculous healing, especially of my heart. I point out that they too are likely on a long road, which can be brightened with positive energy and hope. No one knows where that road will carry them. Yet in that moment, that road has brought me to them, and it is my sincere pleasure to learn from them and spend a little time with them.

I have also looked on the saddened faces of the daughters of Mrs. V and Mrs. L, as they struggle with their own desire to see their mother as she once was. As I compassionately make myself a listening for their frustrations, I hear one daughter, or another, say such things such as:

‘She just won’t try. I am trying to help, but she won’t listen. She doesn’t understand that she can’t come home, for she can’t do anything for herself. She needs to be some place, where they have people to work with her, to help her get better. She is angry. I am so stressed.

I have compassion for these daughters, who loyally visit, and want so much to motivate their mothers to get better. I say to them:

Your mother is now experiencing a new normal. Give her the love and compassion she needs to create whatever possibilities the future desires. Do not hold her in comparison to a past that is no more. The paralysis, tears, and the anger are parts of her healing. Try not to be frustrated with her for this, just compassionately be with her. Make an effort to let go of any frustration that may prevent you from giving the hugs, the laughter, and the hope that can motivate your mother to find and hold on to the hope she needs.

The daughters hear, but it is hard for them to listen to more than their pain, to see more than the physical reality. The mothers, on the other hand, have no choice but to see and hear more that what appears real, for their healing is unseen. When they engage in loved-based conversations, they can see a more hopeful possibility for themselves.

In the few weeks I have been there, daughters of both families have told me how much my visits mean to their mothers. Even when I am not there, I know the impact remains. Mrs. V pastes my name on the side of her tissue box. Mrs. L always wants to know where I was, indicating that she misses me on the days I am not there. As long as our love-based conversations remain in their minds, I pray they receive the continued hope and motivation they so yearn for.

How Life Constipates us Until We Remember Our Unique Gifts to The World

There are no accidents or coincidences in the universe.

A couple of weeks ago, without any shame at all, I wrote about my battle with severe constipation. I knew the constipation was not about my body; I am a healthy eating freak. I knew it was about some life message that I could not interpret. So I prayed for the uncovering of that message. It came to me that I should apply to a hospital in my region for a volunteer position working with stroke survivors. I immediately called. The lady on the phone said, ‘we cannot guarantee you will work with stroke survivors.’ Then she turns to the director of volunteers, who must have been standing near her, to back-up what she told me. ‘Actually,’ said the director, ‘we just got a position in for stroke!’

Life takes you where you need to go, tells you what you need to hear and shows you what you need to see.

Since I connected with the hospital, life has been moving me like a bolt of lightning. Within one week I completed the application, wrote a specified cover letter and obtained several references. The morning after I emailed the application I was asked to come in two days later for what I thought would be an interview. That same day I got my uniform, did my police check, and was scheduled for the orientation which is tomorrow.

Here is the incredible part of the story, the position includes meeting with stroke patients, managing information resources and helping them to get to appointments.  It seemed an amazing fit, given that I have a master degree in information science, years of professional experience working with people, and I am an ardent stroke survivor. But what was really important is that the position ignited my passion for what I am really here to do for the world, and reminded me how I had let my unique gifts fade silently to the background of my life.

Sitting at my computer all day long, I was doing very little of what my life is about. How can I enjoy doing anything with passion and power if I am not doing (right here, right now) what my life is about? How can I write, how can I develop virtual learning resources, if I am not motivating others, sharing information or taking people where I know they want to go? No wonder I was physically constipated for days and days, and spiritually constipated for longer than I can say.

Sharing your unique life gifts is your laxative. It eliminates the wastes within you and illuminates the blessings that you are to the world. Perhaps most importantly, it give a sense of peace and fulfilment. Your gifts are like drugs, which can cause calm and even euphoria throughout your body.

Keep your gifts to this world at the forefront of your life.

Write  your own special gift to this world, and put it where you can see it on a daily basis. This has to be something that fuels your heart, something that you love and freely give to the world. You may or may not be making money from your gifts; regardless you need to do it for it is your reason for living.

As an example, here is my statement of what I do for life.

‘I motivate people to rise above their circumstances, take them where they need to go for healing, and contribute to their learning and spiritual growth.’

Once you write it down, put it where you can see it on a daily basis. Make sure you are acting on it each day.  Make a vow to centre your life around what you are here to do for life.

You may find it useful to share what happens when you are living, with emphasis on sharing those special gifts inside of you. What happens when you are not? With me it was severe constipation. What physical or emotional problems show up in your life?