Episode 018 -- Comfort Level

This week is largely musing about the nature of stretch goals, identity, and striving for recovery.

This week, let's talk about comfort zone. It can be nice and cozy, and I really like things that are nice and cozy. The only problem with it is that there is no growth in the comfort zone.

To grow and improve and recover and get those limbs back, we need to push ourselves. We need to try new things. We can't let our brains forget about that limb and give up on it.

We have to be willing to fail at a task in order to succeed in the long term. Growth and healing happens at the edges. stretching beyond those edges gets us closer to where we want to be. If we never fail in a task during our recovery, we're probably not trying hard enough.

Hack of the Week

This week I began using my girlfriend's Kindle (affiliate link) to read library books.

My reading pace took a major hit after the stroke for a few reasons. one of the big ones though, is that it's more difficult to physically manage a book with one hand. Holding it open, turning a page, not dropping it, and keeping my place is tough. It can be done, but it's a lot more work.

I've always been a fan of paper-based books instead of eBooks because I liked the sensory experience. I have more than 1000 on my shelves downstairs. That also meant I didn't want to jump to the eReader because of this existing bass that makes me happy to look at.

Of course, stroke changes things so I started playing with the Kindle.

This week, I renewed my library card with the Seattle library and began using its Kindle system. I can go onto the website, login, browse the collections and check out a ton of Kindle books that download to the Kindle. After a few weeks, I can "return" them and they disappear from the Kindle so someone else can download them.

If you like to read, and especially if you like eBooks, check out your local library's web services. You may be able to go to the library without having to go to the library.

Where do we go from here?

  • How do you stretch beyond your comfort zone? Let us know in the comments here.
  • Do you have a story of your experience as a stroke survivor, caregiver, or professional that you'd like to share on a future episode? I'd love to hear about it. Email Bill@strokecast.com
  • Share this episode with someone you think would benefit from it.
  • Don't get best...get better.

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Episode 066 -- Practice in the Shower and Meet Mario Porreca


2-Minute Tip: Practice in the Shower


The shower can be a great place to practice your talk. It's a comfortable, warm environment. You don't need to pay too much attention to your other activities. You are less likely to be distracted by other folks and tasks. In general, the environment really helps you shift your mindset in a way that allows you to mentally prepare and visualize yourself conducting a great presentation. 


Plus, it also forces you to go through your content without using your slides (just because you can take a waterproof laptop in there doesn't mean you should).


Meet Mario Porreca

We're all Unique. We're all perfect at our core. We all have something to bring to the world. What is your something?

-- Mario Porreca


Mario Porreca joins us this week. Mario Porreca is a performer, chef, author, TV personality, speaker, and mindset performance strategist. Mario’s main focus is coaching busy achievers to align their mindset, purpose, and passion to experience life at a deeper more profound level. You can learn more about his background here. Or, of course, listen to this week's episode.


Failure is something that we construct in our own minds because we didn't meet our own expectations.

-- Mario Porreca


Mario's focus is on mindset and how important it is to redefine how you look at yourself in order to achieve, and more importantly, maintain success. With work, practice, and the right mindset, a speaker can achieve a level of peak state performance where the message flows through the speaker on stage. At those moments, presenting can almost become a meditative practice, allowing us to connect with a deeper part of ourselves as we share our message and serve our audience.


What I like about this conversation is that the things we talk about will resonate with the new speaker who is nervous about the stage, with tips on letting the message through and dealing with nerves, and with the experienced speaker at home on the stage who wants to understand more about their own on-stage experience. Plus, what happens when your presentation results in the fire department showing up?


Mario's 10-Minute Mindset podcast is a daily show designed to help folks get ready for the day and take immediate steps toward achieving their goals.


Plus, Mario is a Billy Joel fan, which is awesome.


Here are some of the links related to today's show:


Our greatest need as human beings is to act consistently with who we believe we are.

-- Mario Porreca


Call To Action

Check out this episode!


Episode 017 -- Podcasts, Tea, Eggs, and an Anniversary



Let's talk about 3 podcasts in this podcast. After all, the reason, we're podcasters is we like talking about our passions.

I mentioned in the previous episode of this show that Microsoft has new technology to create live subtitles as a presenter speaks. I talked about it much more extensively in episode 65 of 2-Minute Talk Tips. You can learn more here.

I used the tool to create a transcript of this episode. It's not perfect, but if you'd rather read than listen, click here.

I joined Cam Compton on the Hand In Hand show on the Strokefocus network. You can listen to that episode here. You can also explore Strokefocus.net in more detail here.

Cam and I talked about our stories, the importance of support groups, keys to recovery, mindset, and exercise.

I also appeared on Lyn Henderson's Inside Knowledge podcast. Lyn's show is all about resilience. Based in New Zealand, she interviews folks from around the world to learn how they've overcome challenges to live the lives they want to live.

We talk about the warning signs for stroke, the risk factors we must navigate, and the keys to recovery. You can listen to the episode here or check out Lyn's other guests here.

Eggs and Tea

Medical News today reported on a study in the journal Heart published by the British Cardiovascular Society about a study in China that shows eating one egg a day can reduce the risk of stroke by 12%. If I'm reading the study right, the looked at 461,213 people.

Almost daily egg consumption — or around 5.32 eggs per week — was also linked to a 12 percent lower risk of ischemic heart disease, compared with people who never or rarely ate this food (amounting to approximately 2.03 eggs per week).

"The present study finds that there is an association between moderate level of egg consumption (up to 1 egg/day) and a lower cardiac event rate," the study authors explain.

In the US, eggs are pretty much demonized when it comes to questions about cholesterol and vascular health. Of course, that doesn't stop us from eating the.

It seems to me the key, as in most things is moderation.

In effort to eat more healthfully, I've reduced my egg yolk consumption. I picked up a carton of liquid egg whites, and now instead of cooking 3 or 4 eggs, I'll cook one egg and make up the difference with egg white. I can't really taste the difference so it's a win.

Plus, it's easier to deal with the carton one handed than to crack a bunch of eggs one handed.

I encountered another study this week about the benefits of Green Tea. Cardio Vascular Business reports on a study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry with the headline,"Green tea component may prevent heart attack, stroke."

That's great news, because green tea is mighty tasty. And green tea Kit Kats are awesome.

But it pays to read a little more deeply.

"Our results show that this intriguing compound might also be effective against the types of plaques which can cause heart attacks and strokes."

The researchers said a normal amount of green tea is unlikely to have a significant effect on heart health.

It's intriguing research, but we are unlikely to get the benefit by simply drinking more tea. Still, it's great to see this; perhaps they will be able to turn this chemical into a thing later on. In the meantime, enjoy your tea.


June 3 was my first Strokeaversary. So it's been a weird week. I'm not satisfied with my progress, but I'm further along than I ought to be. I've got plenty more work to do.

I told this story on Facebook. You can read that here.

I've learned a ton over the past year, and I've gotten to meet some great people. I've had a great time with this podcast, and I'd like to think I've been able to help some folks.

And there's still a ton left to do.

Bill Monroe immediately after stroke and nearly a year later

Hack of the Week

Keep track of your medical expenses.

  • Parking
  • Travel to appointments
  • Deductibles
  • Cobra premiums
  • ...and so much more

If you have a lot of unreimbursed medical expenses, keep track of them. They may be tax deductible. Gathering up all this info next year at tax time will be a lot easier if you get started now. This is even more important when it comes to tracking your medical related mileage.

The savings can be substantial.

Where do we go from here?

  • Have you had your Strokeaversary? What was your experience like? Tell us in the comments below.
  • Have you made a thing? I want to hear about it. Share with us in the comments.
  • Check out the Hand In Hand show and the Inside Knowledge podcast
  • If your Doctor says it's okay, enjoy your eggs and green tea in moderation.
  • Start keeping track of your expenses and mileage now to make tax time easier.
  • Share this episode of Strokecast with a friend or neighbor.
  • Don't get best...get better.

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Episode 065 -- Close to Open and Presentation Translator


2-Minute Tip: Close to Open


In retail, management coaches employees to Close to Open. That means to get the store clean, stocked and signed at closing time so it's ready to open up the next day and get right to business.


If you are doing a series of presentations, you can do "Future You" a big favor by taking the same approach. Close to open.


That means when you're done, you don't just throw everything in your bag and run out the door. Take the time to:

  • Reset your PC to presentation state.
  • Wrap up your cables.
  • Pack your extension cord and presentation remote where you will find them.
  • Fold up your branded table cloth.
  • Reset any visual aides you have
  • Etc.


Don't leave your self with a tangled mess to deal with the next day. You don't need that stress, and you don't need that hassle.

Close to Open.


Post Tip Discussion: Presentation Translator


Presentation Translator is a free add in for PowerPoint that you can get from Microsoft. It requires a recent version of PowerPoint, a Windows PC, an internet connection and a microphone. You can download it here. You can learn more about the tool here.


It does three main things in PowerPoint. It:


  1. Provides live voice to text subtitles on your slides while you present
  2. Allows audience members to view a live translation of your talk on their smart phones (or on top of your slides, if you choose)
  3. Gives you a written transcript of your talk at the end of the presentation


I saw a great demonstration of it at the Microsoft Ability Summit. I talked more about that on my stroke podcast, Strokecast.


Translator does all this in the cloud. Your PC microphone picks up your voice and uses Microsoft's cloud-based artificial intelligence to do the conversion and translation on the fly. It's pretty impressive.


This is complex stuff to get right. One way to improve accuracy is to let the tool scan your slides before your presentation. This takes about 5 minutes, but you only need to do it once. It's an optional step, but it's important if you have a lot of specialized language in your presentation. What I like about this function is that it reads both your slides AND your speaker notes. That means you can get the benefit of this tool even with graphic heavy slides with few words. Your speaker notes can be as text heavy as you like.


Speed and accuracy are important, and I found it works pretty well most of the time. A good internet connection is important to avoid lag and keep it functional.


I ran this week's episode through the tool. You can read the English transcript of this week's episode here.


If you'd rather read it in Klingon, you can do that here.


You can translate into 60 different languages.


Here's a look at some of those screenshots.


[caption id="attachment_652" align="aligncenter" width="415"]This is a screenshot showing some of the languages you can translate your slides into This is a screenshot showing some of the languages you can translate your slides into.[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_650" align="aligncenter" width="514"]This is the dialog box you see when you start the subtitling mode. This is the dialog box you see when you start the subtitling mode. Here, you can enable or disable the prescan.[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_651" align="aligncenter" width="521"]This screen shot of the dialog box shows some of the languages you can display your subtitles in. This screen shot of the dialog box shows some of the languages you can display your subtitles in.[/caption]


This is not just a cool toy for speakers. Presentation Translator has some important implications for accessibility and for reaching under-served communities. It puts simple translation tools in the hands of every Windows-based PowerPoint user. It allows a speaker in one language to speak with an audience not as proficient in that language. It streamlines business and opportunities across borders. It allows the hard of hearing to consume more content.


Here's a Microsoft produced video demonstrating the tool:



Call To Action:


  • What do you think of the tool? Have you tried it? Let us know in the comments here.
  • If you find content like this interesting, be sure to subscribe to 2-Minute Talk Tips in your favorite podcast app.
  • Close to open the next time you have a series of presentations.
  • Don't get best...get better.

Check out this episode!


Episode 016 -- Microsoft Ability Summit and Neurofatigue after Stroke

"I'm never satisfied with any progress. That's why you wake up in the morning."

-- Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO on making products and services more accessible.

On May 31, I attended the Microsoft Ability Summit. It's a product showcase, presentation time, and multi-company job fair focused on accessibility and giving job seekers with disabilities an opportunity to meet with recruiters.

They had a great demo Presentation Translator. This tool automatically subtitles whatever a speaker is saying and displays it on their slides. It also supports translation into multiple languages nearly instantaneously. It's a very cool technology that I'll probably talk more about in a future episode of 2-Minute Talk Tips. I'm especially interested in whether the subtitles are helpful for folks with aphasia or other challenges.

It was a great event, with an extensive set of accommodations to make it as accessible as possible. You can learn more about the event and initiatives here or by following the Twitter Hashtag #ability summit My biggest challenge with the event was that it was too short.


Of course, had it been longer that may have given me other challenges. It turns out when you stay you too late, and then go to an intense event, and then deal with Seattle rush hour traffic -- you get tired. It's even more pronounced due to neurofatigue.

Stroke and TBI survivors are prone to neurofatigue because we are doing more brain work with less brain. It's normal and common for many survivors to find the need more naps and more sleep. The folks over at Brain Injury Explanation have a good explanation of it. As they should.

One thing that's makes neurofatigue different from standard sleepiness in my experience is the wall. I don't get tired gradually. I go about my business burning energy until that low fuel light suddenly comes on and my brain demands, "NAP. NOW."

Here are 7 ways to address neurofatigue:

  1. Rest.
  2. Reduce sensory input.
  3. Nap.
  4. Eat right.
  5. Hydrate.
  6. Talk with your doctor about sleep (sleep apnea is a very not good thing).
  7. Don't stay up all night editing podcasts.

Hack of the Week

A thermos with a handle is a great way to carry beverages around the home. A tight lid prevents spills.

What I like about a handle is I can use my affected hand to carry it, leaving my good hand to hold my cane or a hand rail.  The tone in my affected hand helps prevent me from dropping. Doing this also helps to minimize learned non-use.

Where do we go from here?

  • Did your doctors and therapists tell you neurofatigue was a thing? What has your experience been like? Tell us about it in the comments at Strokecast.com/neurofatigue.
  • You can help Strokecast by spreading the word. Share this episode with your Facebook and Twitter friends by linking to http://strokecast.com/neurofatigue 
  • Need to carry beverages? Pick up a nice thermos with a tight lid and handle/
  • Don't get best...get better.


Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast