Ep 083 -- Identity Loss after Stroke with Dr. Debra Myerson

I first encountered Dr. Debra Meyerson, Ph.D, through Twitter. She has written a book about stroke and the loss of a sense of identity that follows it. More than a memoir, it tells her story as she navigates the new, post-stroke world, and the stories of a couple dozen other survivors and how their reaction mirror or differ from hers.

[caption id="attachment_851" align="alignright" width="166"]A light brown stuffed bear sits on a blue couch reading a book. Production Assistant Oatmeal reads through Identity Theft.[/caption]

She wrote the book because in her experience, not enough rehab facilities and hospitals adequately prepare survivors for the changing sense of self they are likely to encounter, especially as they face the real world with new disabilities.

She sent me a copy of the book, and I'm happy to feature her and husband/caregiver Steve Zuckerman in this week's episode.


(From https://www.identitytheftbook.org/about-deb-meyerson)

Debra Meyerson headshot"My name is Debra Meyerson"

It took me two years to re-learn that sentence!

In 2010, when I was a professor at Stanford, I suffered a severe stroke. I lost all movement of my right arm and leg; even worse, I lost all ability to communicate.

Cover of Identity Theft: Rediscovering Ourselves after StrokeWhile I won my struggle to survive, much of my identity – as a Stanford professor, a speaker and writer, an athlete, a mother and a wife – was taken from me. My mind was working but I was trapped inside a broken body, unable to do what I used to do. And maybe even worse, I couldn't tell anyone what I was experiencing.

With hard work and a lot of help I regained enough mobility to again be independent, and have recovered some ability to speak. But I have come to accept that I will never again have all the capabilities I once had.

I'm still slowly recovering more of my abilities and am continuing to rebuild my identities. I've found few resources to help with the emotional piece of this journey, and have heard the same from many of my fellow survivors. That's why I wrote "Identity Theft: Rediscovering Ourselves after Stroke (May 2019)."

Cover of Tempered RadicalsAs a professor, I studied and taught about how small, everyday actions can disrupt what’s normal, chip away at the status quo, and create positive change. That work led me to write Tempered Radicals, first published in 2001. ​Now, in a very different context, I live by the message I previously taught. With small, deliberate efforts, and a lot of conscious choices, I continue my slow recovery, discover more about myself, and shape my new identities.

Hand in Hand Show

The Hand in Hand show is another stroke related podcast that's been around for a while.

Cam, the host, is one of the survivors featured in Debra's book. She talks about navigating the challenging world of finances and disability payments.

Last year, Debra was a guest on Cam's show. You can hear that interview here:


And because this is simultaneously a large and a small community, I was also a guest on Cam's show earlier this year. You can hear that conversation here:


Ischemic Stroke Without a Clot

One of the interesting science-y thing about Debra's stroke, is that apparently there was no clot.

There are 2 types of strokes that we generally talk about: a hemorrhagic stroke which results from a bleed in the brain and an ischemic stroke which result from a clot in the brain.

But ischemic doesn't actually mean "clot." It refers to a lack of oxygen and glucose getting to the cells. Ischemia can result in cell death because the cells starve. Ischemia and cell death is usually the result of a clot blocking blood flow to part of the brain, which is why we usually treat those terms as synonymous.

In Debra's case, she had a vertebral artery dissection. That means the lining inside one of the arteries in the back of her head was damaged. In many cases, this allows clots to form, which break off and float further into the brain where they cause a stroke. In this case, though, the damage was such that the lining of the artery itself flapped over and blocked blood from getting through. This appears to have resulted in TIAs (transient ischemic attacks) in the months leading up to her stroke.

This is one more reason why if you experience stroke like symptoms or other weird neurological stuff, it's imperative to seek medical treatment ASAP, even if the symptoms go away.

Anecdotally, many of the young, athletic ischemic stroke survivors I've spoken with got their strokes from a vertebral artery dissection. A sharp blow or sudden twist in the neck can damage those arteries and result in a stroke months or years later.

Again, anecdotally, I've also heard a number of stories about folks having a stroke from a vertebral artery dissection due to a neck adjustment by a chiropractor. I understand many chiropractors use a different technique now, but be very cautious about letting anyone adjust your neck. The risk just isn't worth it.

Ischemia is an interesting thing and isn't always bad either. Dr. Nirav Shah talked to us about Remote Ischemic Conditioning back in episode 55: http://Strokecast.com/RIC.

What are you working on?

At the top of the page on this website, you see links to other stroke podcasts and Facebook groups. I'd love to expand/improve those lists.

If you have a stroke-related:

  • Podcast
  • Book
  • YouTube channel
  • Vlog
  • Blog
  • Virtual support group
  • Real life support group
  • Movie
  • ..other project

I want to know about it and maybe feature it on the show or this website.

Just fill out this form: http://Strokecast.com/MyProject and we can further support this community.

Let me know if you have any questions: bill@Strokecast.com

Hack of the Week

Debra has found tremendous freedom in her Hickies.Hickies alternative laces

Hickies are an alternative to shoe laces that allow folks to secure their shoes with one hand or even to turn traditional lace up athletic shoes into slip-on/slip-off shoes.

They can be a great alternative to Velcro shoe closures because, quite frankly, the selection of good-looking Velcro based sneakers is pretty slim.

You can learn more about Hickies here: https://www.hickies.com


Identity Theft: Rediscovering Ourselves after Stroke https://www.identitytheftbook.org/
Buy the Physical, Kindle, or Audio book on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Identity-Theft-Rediscovering-Ourselves-Stroke/dp/1449496318/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0
Stroke Forward  -- Debra and Steve's Non-Profit Http://strokefwd.org
Tempered Radicals: How People Use Difference to Inspire Change at Work https://www.amazon.com/Tempered-Radicals-People-Difference-Inspire/dp/0875849059/ref=sr_1_2
Tempered Radicals: How Everyday Leaders Inspire Change at Work https://www.amazon.com/Tempered-Radicals-Everyday-Leaders-Inspire/dp/1591393256/ref=sr_1_3
Rocking the Boat: How Tempered Radicals Effect Change Without Making Trouble https://www.amazon.com/Rocking-Boat-Tempered-Radicals-Without/dp/1422121380/ref=sr_1_1
Debra on Twitter https://twitter.com/identity_stroke
Debra on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/identityandstrokebook/
Debra on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/debra-meyerson-identityandstroke/
Debra on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/identityandstroke
Debra on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCu9xxw1RyUaHX55vXkuuo8w/videos
Debra on Good Reads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/516811.Debra_Meyerson?from_search=true
Debra on Book Bub https://www.bookbub.com/profile/debra-e-meyerson
Identity Theft on Net Galley https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/book/161798
Debra on the Hand In Hand Show https://www.handinhandshow.com/2017/12/02/episode-47-debra-meryerson-rebuilding-identity-one-step-time/
Bill on the Hand in Hand Show https://www.handinhandshow.com/2018/06/03/episode-73-bill-monroe-stokecast/
Hickies alternative laces https://www.hickies.com/
Submit Your Project http://Strokecast.com/MyProject

Where do we go from here?

Strokecast is the stroke podcast where a Gen X stroke survivor explores rehab, recovery, the frontiers of neuroscience and one-handed banana peeling by helping stroke survivors, caregivers, medical providers and stroke industry affiliates connect and share their stories.

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Ep 127 -- Magic, Happiness, and Dark Chocolate with Matt Fore

2-Minute Tip: Don’t waste you first 10 seconds


When you go out on that stage you are a blank slate with the audience . They don’t know you. They’re not bored with you — yet. Now is when you have the best chance to grab their attention and interest.


So plan it out. Don’t leave your opening 10 seconds to chance or peter it away on, “How is everyone doing today?”


Tell a story. Tease the content. Surprise them. Comfort them. Or get right down to valuable business. But whatever you decide to do, make it deliberate and within your control.


Post Tip Discussion: Meet Magician, Speaker, and Coach Matt Fore


Matt Fore’s career has really been full of adventure. From proudly showcasing magic in high school, to jumping on last minute cruises as a performer, to coaching entertainers hoping to grow their own businesses, he’s got stories to fill 10 episodes.


What jumped out about him in this conversation is the humbleness with which he presents himself. There’s no over-the-top bragging here. It’s just a lot of simple practical advice and moments that had me laughing throughout the episode.




Matt Fore stands next to a tree

Matt Fore is a Humorist, Writer, Speaker and Comedy Magician who routinely serves as the main stage performer for Corporate, Association and Faith based events around the country as he has for more than twenty-four years. 


He has performed for Carnival Cruise Lines, The Magic Castle in Hollywood and has appeared on several national TV Shows including The Crook & Chase Show on TNN, Fox Sports and Swan’s Place on Odyssey. Matt is a contributor to Success.com, Entrepreneur.com and is the author of two books, “The Five Essential Elements – A Simplified Road to Success,” and his very popular comedy devotional “The Truth Shall Make You Laugh.” He is a lecturer among his peers in the areas of entertainment, sleight of hand magic and effective marketing.


He lives in Johnson City TN with his author wife Jo Ann. They have three or four kids. He is not sure because he spends much of his time on the road. 


Minnie Pearl


Matt’s early efforts at speaking in grade school were centered around Minnie Pearl. But what if you don’t know who Minnie Pearl is? Well, that’s why God and Google gave us YouTube



Introverts vs Extroverts


Matt describes himself as an introvert. Many speakers do. Personally, I go back and forth between the two poles so I guess I’m more of an ambivert.


A lot of people assume introvert means shy so how can an introvert be comfortable on stage?


Because the concept of an introvert is more nuanced than that. Generally, introverts lose energy engaging with other individuals and recharge in more quiet, individualistic activities. Extroverts are just the opposite. They soak up energy from the people around them. They thrive on personal engagement with other people.


Public speaking at first glance seems optimized for extroverts since you’re in a room with dozens or hundreds or thousands of people.


In reality, though, you aren’t in a personal engagement with all those people. You are on stage doing your own thing. You’re working to engage all those people at once and, while it’s important to think about those people and the value you are there to deliver, it’s ultimately a solo activity. It’s you and the concept of the audience. It’s an individual approach. You can leave all your energy on stage to land your message and succeed.


It’s a heck of a lot easier than schmoozing at the networking party later.


Let People Help


After and before an event, people may want to help you out. If you’ve been doing this a while, you may not need that help. In fact it may slow you down and throw off your entire routine. Or you may want to not burden those folks. Let them help, anyway. Prepare ahead of time some tasks you can ask folks to do when the offer assistance.


You’re doing them a favor.


Them offering to help you is how they are trying to forge a connection or a relationship with you. Most of us aren’t “famous” in the traditional world, but in the context of a speaking event, the speaker is a star. For some people this will be their brush with fame for the day, and they’ll be thrilled to talk about the part they played in your day in the years to come.


Accepting help also validates that they have value. That they can contribute even in some small way.


And that’s a simple thing you can do to leave an even more positive feeling with your audience.




Entertainment Marketing Academy


Matt Fore Entertainment


Matt’s books on Amazon


Matt at Success.com


Matt at the Huffington Post


Matt on Entrepreneur.com


Victoria Mavis on 2-Minute Talk Tips



Call To Action


  • Visit MattFore.Com to learn more about Matt and his projects, or check out the Entertainer’s Marketing Academy to learn how you can book more gigs.
  • Subscribe to 2-Minute Talk Tips in your favorite podcast app so you never miss an episode
  • Don’t get best…get better.

Check out this episode!


Episode 082 -- A New Job and a New Drug

This week is a solo episode.

I have a new job! Plus, I just tried Dysport for tone and spasticity for the first time. And...what does stroke prevention have to do with sales? I talk about all of that in this week's episode.

New Drug

I've just had my first round of Dysport to treat tone and spasticity in my arm and hand. I talked about tone in greater detail in one of my early episode. It's gotten better since then but I still have a way to go.

I'd been getting Botox in the past. It takes a couple weeks to have an effect and lasts for about 3 months.

Dysport is another implementation of the botulinum neurotoxin. It lasts for four months and the dosage is lower than it is with Botox. In my experience, it appears to kick in faster as well. I noticed results days later instead of weeks. So far, it seems to be a winner.

New Job

I just started a new full-time job as a contractor with Microsoft News Labs. My role is to help folks in the journalism community use Microsoft products to do their jobs more efficiently so they can focus on the work of journalism.

I'm excited. I was initially concerned that it might tax my energy level too much, but what is actually happening is that I seem to have more energy. I'm not wasting spoons on hustling to find my next paycheck. I think this routine may pay other dividends in my recovery, too.

New Approach

We talk about stroke prevention as an important thing to prevent strokes, but we don't often talk about why you want to prevent a stroke.

In sales, it's more important to focus on the benefits a product gives a particular customer, rather than the features the product has. It has to be all about the customer for a salesperson to be effective.

If we apply that logic to the stroke prevention message then it becomes less about preventing a stroke and more about preserving your ability to walk. Or talk. Or make decisions. Or use two hand to do anything. Or control all your bodily functions.

Ultimately who cares if we have a clot or bleed in our brains? That's not what we care about. What we actually care about is the impact that clot or bleed has on our day-to-day lives.

Hack of the Week

This week's hack comes from Dr. Carol-Anne Nelson at Destination Rehab.

Put your bar of soap on a glove or mitt when you shower. This way, you won't drop it. You may even be able to use your affected arm to bathe, aiding in recovery. And the texture may make scrubbing easier so give it a try.


Where do we go from here?


Strokecast is the stroke podcast where a Gen X stroke survivor explores rehab, recovery, the frontiers of neuroscience and one-handed banana peeling by helping stroke survivors, caregivers, medical providers and stroke industry affiliates connect and share their stories.

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Episode 126 -- Take Action with Candice Bakx-Friesen

2-Minute Tip: Take Action


The most important thing you can do as a speaker is to speak. Get one or two takes ready to go and then just focus on filling your calendar. Do whatever you can to book yourself solid. Get that stage time so you can get better.


Post Tip Discussion: Meet Candice Bakx-Friesen


Candice Bakx Friesen is essential the Nike of Canadian Real Estate. She embodies the idea of just do it. In today’s conversation, you’ll hear her advise several times to say yes and then figure it out when an opportunity presents itself.


While this may not be the best advice for neurosurgeons, it does work pretty well for speakers. Figure out your message, focus on that and deliver value to your audience.


I really like her approach to doing new things — just do it, and try not to get in your own way.


I also like that she emphasizes the importance of knowing your audience. In real estate of course we all know that the 3 most important things are location, location, and location


Before speaking to an audience Candice looks into the local real estate market. It’s not hard; there are plenty of resources available. Then she can deliver a custom talk that makes her local audience feel valued.


You can do that with most of your audiences, too. Do some research on what your audience is concerned about and mention their concerns. Talk to them about their problem specifically. They will feel that much more connected to you.




Candice is passionate about helping people reach their financial dreams. Candice has been a real estate investor since 2001. She is also the founder of Investor Smarts Global Network and Driven By Results, and a coaching partner within the Truly Invested Real Estate Club. Candice’s candid approach to business and affinity for getting past the fluff and getting to the root of each challenge for her clients so that they get a lot done, has led to her becoming a highly sought after coach within the finance and real estate industries.


Candice has had the opportunity to speak at many events, and enjoys sharing and teaching others.


Some events she has spoken at include: Toronto Real Estate Investors Forum (Toronto, ON), Truly Invested Real Estate Group (Winnipeg, MB), Group Facilitator at the Conversation Event (Texas, USA), Durham REI Club (Toronto, ON), RENTS Bootcamp Event (Kamloops, BC), Prairie RE Forum (Regina, SK), Judge for TEDx (Flowermound, Texas, USA), Shine Again Event (Steinbach, MB)




There are many qualities and skills that go into being an excellent professional coach – integrity, in-depth knowledge, marketing savvy, effective negotiation skills and a high-quality professional network, all of which are hallmarks of how Candice works.


“Client first” philosophy has always been her approach and it requires Candice to continually improve her skills and ways of doing business. This means keeping herself accessible, being a good listener as well as a good communicator, and responding quickly to her client’s needs.





Call To Action


2-Minute Talk Tips is the public speaking podcast that help you become a more effective speaker in as little as 2 minutes a week.

Check out this episode!


Episode 081 -- Neuropsychology with Dr. Karen Sullivan

What is #NeuroPsychology? And what do the fewer than 1,000 board-certified #Neuropsychologist in the US do for #StrokeSurvivors? I talk about that and more with author of the Interactive Stroke Recovery Guide, Dr. Karen Sullivan.

I think Dr. Sullivan and I first connected through Instagram. Her colorful graphics and logos really pop.

Dr. Karen D. Sullivan launched a series of Facebook Live videos aimed at helping stroke and brain injury survivors understand their situation better. From there she went on to write a book, the Interactive Stroke Recovery Guide. She sent me a copy to read before our conversation.

Unlike many stroke books, this is more of a work book. It's meant to be written in. It lets survivors keep track of the details of their strokes, their goals for recovery, their symptoms, etc. It's meant to be cut up, with reminders for motivation and thank you cards to give out. This is no pristine library book.


Dr. Karen Sullivan headshot in front of treesKaren D. Sullivan, PhD, ABPP, is the creator of the I CARE FOR YOUR BRAIN program. She is one of only 24 providers in North Carolina who is Board Certified in Clinical Neuropsychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology. Dr. Sullivan founded a private practice called Pinehurst Neuropsychology Brain & Memory Clinic in November 2013.

Prior to establishing her practice, Dr. Sullivan was an Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department. She received her doctoral degree at Boston University in 2009 and completed her internship and post-doctoral fellowship in Clinical Neuropsychology at the VA Boston Healthcare System through Harvard Medical School and the Boston University School of Medicine in 2010.

Dr. Sullivan has extensive training in clinical issues unique to older adults. Prior to her formal education, she worked as caregiver, nursing assistant, therapeutic companion, activities director and co-director of an adult day health program.

Competition with Strokecast? Nonsense!

If you want to learn more about Dr. Sullivan's fascinating and nontraditional childhood and Bon Jovi connection, listen to episode 65 of the NeuroNerds podcast. You may remember the NeuroNerds from episode 65 of this show when I talked with Joe Borges.

And this brings up another important point -- don't be afraid to tell your story, just because you think everybody has already told there's.

Joe and his cohost Lauren started the NeuroNerds podcast a couple weeks after a I started Strokecast, though we didn't know it at the time.

But we're not competitors -- we're all colleagues and Brain Buddies. Each show is different and brings something different to the community.

The interview that Joe did with Dr. Sullivan is fantastic -- and it's very different than the conversation you just heard between me and Dr. Sullivan. Joe and I have both interviewed Sarah, Tamsen, and Angie -- the Three Stromies -- about their efforts to share stories and bring value to the stroke survivor community. And those conversation are all different.

Christine Lee and Ted Baxter have both written stroke memoirs and been guests on the show. Those books and conversations are all different. And they're different from the books by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor or Allison Shapiro. And they're different from the books and stories you'll hear about in the coming weeks.

If you want to tell your story, don't think there are already too many stroke podcasts, blogs, YouTube channels, or books. None of them have you -- your unique perspective and your unique history. Go out and do it. And if you do, let me know! I want to check it out and share it with the audience.

Hack of the Week

Visualize the things you want to do.

The brain splits up functions into different parts. Even if one part is damaged, the other parts of the chain still work, so don't let them off the hook. If you can't move your arm yet, visualize moving it. Imagine lifting your arm. Close your eyes and imagine your fingers opening and closing. Do this a lot.

What your doing is allowing the working parts of the brain to send data to, through, and around the damaged parts of the brain. This can help new connections grow and help restore function.

One reason our therapists move our limbs, or that we use eStim as part of rehab is to send signals back to the brain about how to move.

If you combine moving the limbs with visualization, it's like building the transcontinental railroad in the US in the 19th century. One team starts in the east and builds west; the other team starts in the west and builds east. Eventually the teams met up and build the connection that transformed the western United States, and celebrated by driving a golden spike into the tracks.

That's where recovery happens.


Dr. Sullivan's ICFYB Website


ICFYB (I Care For Your Brain) on Instagram


Interactive Stroke Recovery Guide on Amazon


ICFYB on Facebook


ICFYB on YouTube


ICFYB on LinkedIn


Dr. Sullivan on Twitter


Dr. Sullivan on LinkedIn


Carrie Frye on LinkedIn


ABPP -- American Board of Professional Psychology


Neuropsychology Overview


Find a Board Certified Neuropsychologist


Whitney Morean on Strokecast


Paul Sanders on Strokecast


Some Facebook Stroke Groups


NeuroNerds Talks with Dr. Sullivan


Joe Borges on Strokecast


Stromies on Strokecast


Stromies on NeuroNerds


Bill on Instagram


Where do we go from here?

  • Check out Dr. Karen Sullivan's Facebook live videos and the Interactive Stroke Recovery Guide, and follow her on Instagram
  • Have you talked with a neuropsychologist as part of your recovery? It might be a good idea to look for one in your area and see if the support is right for you.
  • Share this episode with 3 people you know or on your own social media platform by giving them the link http://Strokecast.com/Karen.
  • Don't get best…get better.



Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Episode 125 -- Storytelling in History Class with Joel Hawbaker

2-Minute Tip: Greet Audience Members Early


As much as practical, if you have time before your speech, meet some members of your audience. Greet them as they come in and sit down. This accomplishes a couple things.


First, it’s the start of a relationship with a new person. For part of your audience, you will no longer be just that person on the stage. Instead you will be that person they were just chatting with who is now on the stage. As you build that relationship, you are building trust.


Second, it gives you some familiar faces you can look for when you are on the stage. This encourages you to engage in more eye contact, and it gives you some people you can specifically look for.


As a bonus, it can even help with speaker nerves by distracting in that period before your talk.


Post Tip Discussion: Meet Joel Hawbaker


Joel Hawbaker has fully embraced the storytelling aspect of speaking. And why wouldn’t he? Telling stories is how civilizations have shared their histories, their lessons, and their faiths for millennia.


It’s how religions today share the lessons and directives of their prophets and marketing departments around the world grow their profits. And it’s how you can make history compelling and memorable for the toughest audience in existence — school kids.


Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less

CS Lewis


I also like Joel’s thoughts on the importance of humility for not just a speaker and teacher, but for any expert. There’s an importance in going back to basics and working on fundamentals. Success requires a strong foundation, and not thinking you’re too good to work on the basics.


Even an experienced speaker needs to think through their content, do the prep work, and practice.


This focus on humility and going back to basics is an important that can help us connect with more audiences. They’re the best way to celebrate the hero of our talks — the message.




Joel W. Hawbaker is a professional speaker, an author, and a high school teacher and soccer coach in Alabama where he lives with his wife, his two daughters, and their two rescue dogs. Joel has a degree in History from Covenant College, and he also spent time studying Medieval Civilizations at New College, Oxford, in the UK. In his professional speaking, Joel focuses on the topics of blended family life, leadership, and education. His goal is to help people form better relationships through a combination of confidence and humility. In addition to his books on leadership, he is currently working on a book about blended family life.


Writing the Book


Joel talked about his approach to writing his book. He worked on his outlines in the evening, and he filled them out while driving to work. This can be a great approach, assuming you can do it safely. This is a great job for a dedicated digital recorder. For a task like this, the small, cheap ones are probably fine.


This is an approach that can work because editing is easier than creating. Once Joel had his recordings done, he could turn them into transcripts and then edit them into a book.  Even with that, it still took him a year to write, “Inverted Leadership.”


But he did it.


On Strokecast, I talked with true crime author Paul Sanders. He finished his latest book a week before he had his stroke. That stroke robbed him (at least for now) of his ability to write books.


So don’t wait. Get that book written now. Joel found a way to write it during his commute. How can you find a way to write yours?




Joel’s Website


Joel’s book on Amazon


Joel on Facebook


Also Joel on Facebook


Joel on Twitter


Joel on LinkedIn


John Acuff Newsletter


Chandler Bolt’s Self-Publishing School


Rob Kosberg’s Best Seller Publishing


John Wooden on socks


Vince Lombardi on a football


Westbrook Christian Academy



Call To Action


  • Check out Joel’s book and web presence
  • Share this episode with 3 colleagues by giving them the link http://2MinuteTalkTips.com/Joel
  • Don’t get best…get better


2-Minute Talk Tips is the public speaking podcast that help you become a more effective speaker in as little as 2 minutes a week.

Check out this episode!


Episode 080 -- True Crime Author and Stroke Survivor Paul Sanders Shares his Story

When most stroke survivors think about death, it's about how we came close. I like to say my own blood tried to kill me -- and failed. For today's guest, it mean something else. Death, and specifically homicide fueled his career as a writer before he had his stroke.

I met Paul Sanders through the Seattle Young Adult Stroke Survivors group.

A week after he finished his most recent book, Paul suffered a severe stroke while under anesthesia for a different surgical procedure. The hospital blamed the medication and sent him home. It wasn't until a wellness check by the police several days later that Paul finally got treatment.

Paul's books tell the true stories of some of the deadliest murders in recent years. Now, the combination of aphasia, apraxia of speech, and short term memory loss means Paul has put his career on hold until he is once again able to write books.


Paul Sanders signs copies of his books while kneeling on the floorPaul Sanders writes True Crime from a juror’s perspective. His story began in 2014, when he was called to serve as a death penalty juror in the Hammer Killing Trial of Marissa DeVault. At the completion of the trial, he wrote his first True Crime book, Brain Damage: A Juror’s Tale.

Since then, Paul has gone on to write a further two True Crime books on some of the most spectacular trials in US history, Why Not Kill Her: A Juror’s Perspective – The Jodi Arias Death Penalty Retrial and Banquet of Consequences: A Juror’s Plight – The Carnation Murders Trial of Michele Anderson.

Why Not Kill Her, along with Shanna Hogan’s book, Picture Perfect: The Jodi Arias Story, has become one of the most recommended books on the subject and was publicly endorsed by the jury foreperson.

Paul’s first two books were published on Amazon and this helped to build a platform of thousands of followers who are now eagerly awaiting the release of his latest work.

Paul has been a guest on True Crime Radio, Trial Talk Live, Court Chatter, HLN and Fox. He has also been featured on NBC Oxygen’s, “Snapped,” as well as I.D. Discovery’s, “Scorned,” where he represented himself as a former juror. He has recently completed two episodes on Investigation Discovery's "Deadly Sins".

Authors of August

This month (August, 2019) I am featuring authors connected to the stroke community. Paul kicks it off as an author from before his stroke. Next week, we'll hear from Dr. Karen Sullivan who will talk about her stroke recovery workbook and the field of neuropsychology. And there's more to come after that.

I've talked with other authors on the show. Christine Lee, Pete Smith, Dr. Kimberly Brown, Dr. Kate Lorig, and Ted Baxter have all shared their thoughts with us. You can find those episodes at http://Strokecast.com/Authors.

I have a weakness and fondness for books. I always have. My personal library has more than 1,000 entries lining the walls of my apartment. I can lose hours wandering around a book store.

My reading has slowed down since the stroke. It turns out reading a book quickly is generally a 2-handed activity. Managing books 1-handed adds a level of complication to turning pages. It's definitely do-able, but like many things after a stroke, it takes more energy and planning. A Kindle that gets books for free from the library does help.

Other survivors have no trouble holding a book or turning the pages. But post stroke cognitive and memory challenges can make reading and retaining information more difficult.

Still, I'm not about to let that stop me from celebrating the authors who are part of our community.

And the lesson from Paul's story is that if you have a book in you, start writing today. You may not have the chance tomorrow.


Paul Sanders on Facebook


Paul's Books on Amazon


Paul on Twitter


Murder of Dale Harrell on Wikipedia


Murder of Travis Alexander on Wikipedia


2007 Carnation Murders on Wikipedia


Paul on the True Murder Podcast


Seattle Young Adult Stroke Survivors Group


Paul's Organizational System


Third Place Books


Authors on Strokecast


Other YASS Strokecast Episodes


Where do we go from here?

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Episode 124 — Nutrition and Public Speaking with Mary Sheila Gonnella

2-Minute Tip: Fuel your body properly


Our bodies react differently to different foods, and to maximize our performance, we need to consume the appropriate fuel for the results we want.


That means, first of all, hydrate. That was also the very first tip in the very first episode of 2-Minute Talk Tips. But it goes beyond that.


Avoid dairy before speaking. It drives mucous production which leads to throat clearing and generally results in less clear speech.


Managing blood sugar is also important to prevent energy crashes and to reduce the stress on our systems.


So what should you consume if you’re planning to speak? Focus on proteins and fats. Think savory instead of sweet. And drink more water than you think you need.


Post Tip Discussion: Meet Nutrition Expert Mary Sheila Gonella


Mary Sheila Gonnela  is a speaker, teacher, and nutrition expert. And in this episode we cover all those different areas.


We don’t often think about the fuel we need before speaking when we hit the snack buffet at a meeting. But it does make a difference. It’s among the things we explore this week.


But that’s not the only thing about effectiveness that we explore. Working with an assistant and being transparent with your audience are all ways to be more effective while speaking.




Mary Sheila Gonnella Headshot

Having served clients for over a decade as a Board Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant and Ayurvedic Practitioner, Mary Sheila Gonnella teaches clients how to honor their unique physiology, move self-care to the front burner, and achieve and maintain radiant health.


Mary Sheila’s classes and public talks fill up with students who keep coming back for more .


“Your breadth of understanding and your enthusiasm to share this knowledge, is so palpable. I learn many things from you every time!”


Andrew Goldstein, MS


Mary Sheila’s students at Bauman College Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts, where she taught for 7 years, say she is “One of Bauman’s greatest assets. She is brilliant and communicates her brilliance well. I am in awe of her knowledge level. She was a Godsend and a wealth of knowledge.” Jill Brogan, NC


In addition Mary Sheila’s private practice, Occidental Nutrition, Mary Sheila consults and teaches classes through doctor referrals in a clinical medical setting, where her approach has helped people have complete health transformations.


“My husband has been able to cut out nearly all his medications, as well as his sleep apnea machine, and both of us have greatly improved our sleep, and collectively we have lost 250 pounds. We can’t thank

Mary Sheila enough for her knowledge, energy, dedication and wonderful sense of humor.”

Nancy Palandati, CA


Her online courses include Your Roadmap to Bone Health, Blood Sugar Reset, Adrenal Vitality Blueprint, Winter Vitality Cleanse, Deeper Than Weight Loss, and Food Mood & Fermentation.


One of Mary Sheila’s favorite ways to connect with her students is by rolling up her sleeves, putting on an apron, and teaching cooking classes, reconnecting people to their ability to create delicious healing food in their own kitchen. Her classes include Fermentation, Eating for Immunity, and Everyday Superfoods, to name a few. Mary Sheila’s wealth of knowledge has led her to be included as a featured speaker and teacher on various online summits and stages around the San Francisco Bay Area.


Stay connected by visiting www.occidentalnutrition.com and sign up to receive “The Breakfast Report” Mary Sheila’s free guide to determining the right breakfast for you, your hormonal balance and your blood sugar regulation.


Personal Stories


Mary Sheila talks about how she was able to connect with a group of young students by sharing the personal story of her mother’s cancer. As a result, she was able to engage the students.


It’s similar to the experience the Ari Gunzburg talked about a few weeks ago. In that episode he talked about throwing out the talk he planned to give to instead share his personal story with a group of students in juvenile detention. They really appreciated that and made his talk more effective.


One of the things that helps makes us more effective as speakers is when we can connect more deeply with our audience. That’s easier when we have more things in common with them. When we speak with other adults in our companies or industries we already have some key things in common — especially being adults.


Telling those personal stories helps the young audience see this “adult” is more like them than they might have expected.





Call To Action


  • To learn more about Mary Sheila’s approach to nutrition, check out www.occidentalnutrition.com.
  • What foods to find make you a more or less effective speaker? Let us know in the comments below.
  • Subscribe to 2-Minute Talk Tips for free in your favorite podcast app so you never miss an episode.
  • Don’t get best…get better


2-Minute Talk Tips is the public speaking podcast that help you become a more effective speaker in as little as 2 minutes a week.

Check out this episode!


Episode 079 -- Wheelchair Life and a Google Give Away with Garrison Redd

This week I talk with Garrison Red. Garrison is one of our neuro cousins. His spinal cord was severed in a random shooting 14 years ago, and he's lived life since then in a wheel chair. It's been quite a life since then and the big adventures are only beginning.

There's a lot of overlap in the stoke, spinal injury, MS, CP, ALS, and other communities. While the cause of our deficits may be different, we all face similar challenges living life in society not optimized for accessibility. And we can rely on similar tools for navigating that world.


Garrison Redd laying on his back and lifting weightsAt 17 years old, Garrison Redd was a dedicated student and a standout running back on his high school football team before his life catastrophically changed one summer night in Brooklyn. A victim of random gun violence, Garrison was shot in the back and instantly paralyzed from the waist down. But instead of feeling sorry for himself, Garrison pushed forward. He is currently training as a powerlifter for the upcoming Paralympic Games, serves as a motivational speaker and mentors at-risk youth living with paralysis.

Now, for the first time in 14 years, Garrison Redd can turn on the lights, TV and music in his NYC apartment without assistance. He can see who rings the doorbell and adjust the temperature. Voice activated technology is giving him the independence many take for granted. And for the next two weeks, the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is providing access for 100,000 people with paralysis and their caregivers to receive a free Google Home Mini device (July 26-Aug. 13).

All members of the Reeve Foundation community living with paralysis and their caregivers are able to receive a free Google Home Mini while supplies last. To join the Reeve community and confirm eligibility, visit Googlenest.reevefoundation.org. The offer to redeem the device expires on August 13, 2019, and is available to U.S. residents only.

Garrison’s website is thegarrisonreddproject.org and he can also be found on YouTube (Garrison Redd) and Instagram (@GarrisonRedd). Additionally, he moderates a powerlifting group on Reeve Connect where he shares fitness tips and workouts with members of the paralysis community.

Power Lifting with Garrison



Google Home Mini and Accessibility




Here are the eligibility requirement for the Google Home Mini Give Away through the Reeve Foundation:

  1. You are living with a physical disability, mobility challenge, or paralysis you are eligible for a free Google Home Mini
  2. You are a caregiver and providing care to an individual living with a physical disability, mobility challenge, or paralysis you are eligible for a free Google Home Mini
  3. You are living in the U.S.
  4. You have not already submitted for a free Google Home Mini

If you meet the requirements, head on over to GoogleNest.ReeveFoundation.Org and fill out the form by August 13.

This is not a sponsored post or an ad; I just want to share this program and Garrison's story with you. And I'd encourage you to share it with others in the Stroke Community, as well. It runs until August 13, 2019.

And once you have your Google Home Mini and set it up, one of the first things to with it is say, "Hey, Google. Play the Strokecast Podcast."

Unemployment and Disability

Here is some data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:

In 2018, the unemployment rate for men with a disability (7.9 percent) was
about the same as the rate for women (8.1 percent). The unemployment rates
for both men and women declined from 2017 to 2018. Jobless rates declined
among Whites and Blacks with a disability in 2018, while the rates for Hispanics
and Asians showed little change. For persons with a disability, Blacks (11.2
percent) and Hispanics (9.8 percent) had higher unemployment rates than Whites
(7.3 percent), and Asians (7.1 percent) in 2018. (See table 1.)

Persons who are neither employed nor unemployed are not in the labor force. A
large proportion of persons with a disability--about 8 in 10--were not in the
labor force in 2018, compared with about 3 in 10 of those with no disability.

You can find the full report here.

Hack of the Week

Wheelchair maintenance is important. Repairs can be expensive and not always covered by insurance. Plus there's the time and hassle of not having use while a chair is being repaired. And there's the extra spoons it takes to drive a chair that's not in top condition.

The wheelchairs bearings can pick up a lot of junk. Over time that can make them wear out and fail.

Garrison uses nail clippers to clean them out. It's a simple tool that makes it easier to get into small spaces at awkward angles. It's made it a lot easier to keep his chair working properly.


Google Home Mini Giveaway


Garrison Redd Project


Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation


Garrison on Twitter


Garrison on Instagram


Garrison on YouTube


Garrison on LinkedIn


Garrison Redd Newsletter


Garrison's Power Lifting Forum with the Reeve Foundation


Rusk Rehab at NYU


Garrison on MILFDAD


Ti Lite Wheelchairs


Wheelchair Sports Federation


NJ Navigators Wheelchair Racing


Gaglione Strength


Heidi Latskey Dance


Unemployment and Disability


Where do we go from here?

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Episode 123 -- Spoken Word and Public Speaking with Huwa

2-Minute Tip: Just put yourself out there


Getting past intense nerves can be challenging, but there comes a point where you just have to do it. Just acknowledge your nerves and stage fright and do it anyway. If things don’t go well, the world won’t end, and (for most of us) no one will die. So just get up on stage, nerves and all, and just do it.


How can you give yourself the best chance for success? It’s no secret — practice. Prepare and practice. The more you do that, the better you’ll be able to focus on what matters — the audience and the message.


Afterall, it’s not about you.


Post Tip Discussion: Meet Okoyomoh Egbekhuwa — or simply Huwa


“You know what’s great about hitting rock bottom? There’s only one way to go, and that’s up!”

— Buster Moon, Sing


Okoyomoh Egbekhuwa — or simply Huwa — is a Chemistry student, spoken word artist, and podcaster living in Nigeria. We live in an amazing time where technology let’s us have conversations like this across the world.


Spoken Word is a performance genre where poetry meets public speaking meets story telling. Rhythm and timing are critical to success. A lot of the lessons Huwa learned as she grew as a performer will likely resonate with other speakers today.


And I have to confess my own ignorance here, This is a genre I wasn’t really familiar with before this conversation. I love getting to learn stuff on the show.




Huwa selfie in a car

Okoyomoh Egbekhuwa, or just Huwa is a performance poet and podcaster from Nigeria, West Africa. She’s been speaking since she was eleven years old at debates and in church. She started performing as a spoken word artiste three years ago and realized how underrated it is as an art so she started up a podcast, called The Spoken World, inviting performance poets, authors and enthusiasts from around the world to share their stories as expressed in literary arts.


Recently, she’s learnt that the podcast can be so much more as it involves stories that reveal the culture, traditions and politics of individuals across the globe.




Huwa quoted the movie Sing in our conversation. It’s an animated film about animals performing in a singing competition. A lot of the stories are about dealing with nerves, being true to yourself, and getting out there to share your art.


Here’s the trailer:



The Danger of the Single Story


The Danger of the Single Story is the risk we have of falling into ignorance. In the context of our discussion, we touched on how many folks in the US and elsewhere have a limited perception of life in Africa. One narrative about the continent often dominates our perception.


Storytelling is a great way to connect with an audience. As an audience member its also important to seek out more stories from speakers and artists who have a different background. It’s not about creating an artificial debate between 2 view points — 2 or more viewpoints and be different without being in opposition to one another.


Even with my relative ignorance I think it’s safe to say that life in Nigeria is very different from life in Egypt or life in Lesotho. And it’s fair to say that life in Lagos is probably very different from life in Yola (and yes, I did have to pull up a map).


And that’s the danger of the single story or narrative. It makes it way too easy to make assumptions about a wide swath of the Earth and its people.


It’s not just about geopolitics and cultural diversity, though. As speakers, how many of us have gone into a company, or even a department within our own company, with a narrative in mind about the people there? What do you think you know about the internal culture of Amazon or Microsoft or Starbucks? These are organizations with tens of thousands of employees and contractors. The single story in our minds about organizations will impact how we prepare and speak with them, even though that story may only apply to a part of the group.


And even if it applies to most of the organization, is your audience within that organization the group that story applies to? And do you think the same story you have about a company as a whole applies equally to the legal department, the marketing department, and the C-Suite? Probably not.


And let’s talk about individuals. What is the single story you have about someone who’s had a stroke? Is it the 86 year old retiree in the nursing home? Or is it someone like Luke Perry or Sharon Stone? Or do you think about the freelance blogger and podcaster helping folks become more effective speakers in as little as 2 minutes a week?


Stories help us understand the world. They help us connect with one another and pass along history, values, lessons, inspiration and community. There’s nothing wrong with stories.


The danger is in letting a single story about our audience or millions and billions of people become the sole way we see that aspect of the world.


So seek out and listen to more stories.




When Huwa and I were setting up the interview, she also emailed me an MP3 of her pronouncing her full name ( Okoyomoh Egbekhuwa) for me. This was great because it gave me an opportunity to practice listen to the correct version again and again.


If you have a name that is difficult to pronounce — or than might be difficult for someone from a different culture to pronounce, consider send a recording of it in advance to whomever may be introducing you at an event.


And if you’re the person doing the introduction, make an effort to learn to pronounce what may be for you a challenging name. You want to get it right because names are so important and they tie into so much emotional stuff. Getting a person’s name right is a sign of respect. And so I hope I did well by Huwa’s name.




The Spoken World Website


The Spoken World on Twitter


Huwa on Instagram


Spoken Word on Wikipedia


Huwa’s Email Newsletter


Spoken World Podcast on RadioPublic


Spoken World Podcast on PocketCasts


Spoken World Podcast on Apple Podcasts


Spoken World Podcast on Google Podcasts


Spoken World Podcast on Spotify


Spoken World Podcast on CastBox


Spoken World Podcast on Overcast


Spoken World Podcast on Stitcher


Spoken World Podcast on Breaker


Spoken World Podcast on Podbean


Kerri Ruttenberg on 2-Minute Talk Tips


Denise Vaughan on 2-Minute Talk Tips


Hilary Billings on 2-Minute Talk Tips


Tim Garber on 2-Minute Talk Tips (Part 1)


Tim Garber on 2-Minute Talk Tips (Part 2)


Jon Clarke on 2-Minute Talk Tips (Running a Panel)


Jon Clarke on 2-Minute Talk Tips (Comedy, Advertising, and rock)



Call to Action


  • Check out the links to Huwa’s podcast and Instagram above.
  • Subscribe to the Spoken World Podcast and 2-Minute Talk Tips for free in your favorite podcast app so you never miss an episode.
  • Don’t get best…get better.


2-Minute Talk Tips is the public speaking podcast that help you become a more effective speaker in as little as 2 minutes a week.

Check out this episode!