A Stroke at 25
On March 28, 2009, at the age of 25, I had a hemorrhagic stroke. I was helping one of my church members move that morning. I was told to always expect the unexpected, but I had no idea that life would throw me such a surprise. As we moved the furniture, fatigue set in. Then things became even more questionable concerning my condition. First my right leg went limp, followed by my right arm.
Up to age 25, I had been a perfectly healthy young man, but my life took a sudden turn for the worse. There were no warning signs. I didn’t know what to expect next. I had never gone through such a traumatic experience before. There had to be some logical explanation.
I spent countless hours in physical and occupational therapy. The sessions were intense, but the results were astounding. I was paralyzed on my right side, so I had to relearn how to write, bathe, walk and even comb my hair. I admit, I had a pride issue before the stroke, but after my experience, I swallowed my pride and opened up like a book. I partook of the group activities, encouraged others and applied what I learned to my life.
My faith played a major role throughout the process along with my positive attitude. Shortly after my recovery, I became a volunteer at Brooks Rehab, where I had received therapy. I was extremely passionate about reaching out to others with words of inspiration and staff members noticed it. As a result, the stroke floor developed a peer mentorship program and campaign called “Faces of Stroke,” which honors influential stroke survivors who positively impact the stroke community.
Even though I had support, the journey was still challenging, but not impossible. I’ve always been up for a challenge. My unexpected change produced what I call a “bundle of stress.” I ended up losing my full-time job, my apartment and my peace of mind. As time progressed, I kept rolling with the punches and stumbled across a part-time job opportunity. My income wasn’t much, but some income was better than none. I stayed with my relatives temporarily, until it was no longer feasible, which left me homeless. My church family quickly stepped in and allowed me to stay at the church building. Gradually, things began to line up for me as I found something of a steady pace.
As for the job, I moved from three different locations and became the assistant manager at the St. Johns Town Center! I knew that the best was yet to come and that there was more to look forward to. In addition to being promoted, I moved into my own apartment and things continued to get better day by day.
I knew that with God, determination and willpower, I’d manage and be all that I could be. And since I’ve been blessed in so many ways, I decided to share my experience with the world by publishing my first book “Grace Down Below: When Illness Strikes,” which is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online bookstores!
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