Ep -- 098 COVID-19 and Stroke

This situation the world is facing with COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) is unlike anything we’ve seen for a 100 years. In just a few months, it has put the entire world economy on pause as hundreds of thousands of people test positive for this deadly disease.

What does this mean for stroke survivors? Are we at higher risk?

Neuro-Physiatrist Dr. Kim Middleton joins us to answer that question and more in this episode of Strokecast.


Dr. Kimberly Middleton completed medical school at the University of California, Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine before doing her residency at the University of Washington.

She is a member of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPMR).

Dr. Middleton was one of the doctors who cared for me during the month I lived at the hospital following my stroke. I continue to see her on a regular basis for my Botox/Dysport injections to treat my tone and spasticity.

You can learn more about Dr. Middleton’s background here: https://www.swedish.org/swedish-physicians/profile.aspx?name=kimberley+w+middleton&id=160439

10 Tips to Protect Yourself From COVID-19

  1. Wash your hands again. Yes, again.
  2. Don’t touch your face.
  3. Continue taking your meds.
  4. Practice physical social distancing, but continue to connect online.
  5. Disinfect your home and deliveries you receive. Cleaning is good home OT.
  6. Eat healthful meals to keep your nutrition up.
  7. Consider taking supplements like vitamin C.
  8. Keep your body strong with exercise.
  9. Prioritize sleep.
  10. Go deep into that home exercise program your PT or OT  gave you.

Handwashing One Handed

Washing our hands is the cheapest and probably most effective way to minimize the chances of catching COVID-19 and hundreds of other conditions. But how do you do it effectively when hemiparesis leaves you with one functional hand?

One way is to use your unaffected hand to wash your affected one. Sure, that one’s probably not as dirty since it’s mainly been hanging around as just a fist, but the act of washing it will wash and scrub the washer. Plus it’s a great opportunity to get some more finger stretches in.

Here are some examples of other techniques.


Dr. Kimberly Middleton at Swedish https://www.swedish.org/swedish-physicians/profile.aspx?name=kimberley+w+middleton&id=160439
COVID-19 Info from Swedish Medical Center https://www.swedish.org/patient-visitor-info/coronavirus-advisory
WHO on the COVID-19 Pandemic https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
NIH on the COVID-19 Pandemic https://www.nih.gov/health-information/coronavirus
CDC on the COVID-19 Pandemic https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html
Stroke.org home exercises https://www.stroke.org/en/help-and-support/resource-library/post-stroke-exercise-videos
COVID-19 on the AHA https://www.stroke.org/en/about-us/coronavirus-covid-19-resources
Stroke.Org Interview with Dr. Eduardo Sanchez https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VW7zNAz9gA0&feature=emb_logo
Home Exercise from Disability Horizons https://disabilityhorizons.com/2016/10/top-10-exercises-disabled-people/
Home Exercises from silver Sneakers https://www.silversneakers.com/blog/total-body-chair-workout-for-older-adults/
Sitting Exercises from Britain’s NHS https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/sitting-exercises/

Where do we go from here?

  • Share this episode with others or post about it to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram with the link http://Strokecast.com/covid-19
  • Check out the links above to keep your exercise going.
  • Stay safe.
  • Don’t get best…get better

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 138 -- Build a Speaking Business with Grant Baldwin

2-Minute Tip: Tell Stories


Stories are how humans connect. They form the basis of our social relationships. They’re how we share history.


As a speaker, one of the best ways to make sure you connect with your audience is to tell stories — and not just one. Illustrate your talk with as many stories as possible. Generic ones are okay, but authentic, personal stories will bring you the most success.


Post Tip Discussion


Grant Baldwin has built a business speaking to speakers about the business of speaking. He hosts the Speaker Lab podcast, which is in my weekly must listen to list. His Speaker Lab company runs the popular Booked and Paid to Speak program. And now he has a new book coming out next week on February 18, 2020 called The Successful Speaker: Five Steps for Booking Gigs, Getting Paid, and Building Your Platform.


As a long-time fan, I was thrilled to talk with Grant for this episode. I think I’ve listened to every episode of his podcast. Now I just need to put it all into action.


If you’ve ever wondered how keynote and other professional speaker make their living and how you can too, Grant is the guy to listen to.




Grant Baldwin is against a slate background, looking straight at the camera.

Grant Baldwin is the founder of The Speaker Lab, a training company that helps public speakers learn how to find and book speaking gigs. Through his popular podcast The Speaker Lab and flagship coaching program Booked and Paid to Speak he has coached and worked with thousands of speakers. As a keynote speaker, Grant has delivered nearly one thousand presentations to over 500,000 people in 47 states and has keynoted events for audiences as large as 13,000. Grant has also been featured in national media including Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, and Huffington Post.


He now lives near Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Sheila, and their three daughters.


5 Basic things Effective Speakers Do


Grant shared this list of characteristics of effective speakers. The key thing here is that all the required skills are ones that anyone can develop.


  1. They are comfortable with their content.
  2. They are familiar with their content.
  3. They understand pacing and pausing.
  4. They tell a good story
  5. They keep an audience engaged


5 Steps to a Successful Speaking Career


S – Select a problem to solve.

P – Prepare and deliver your talk.

E – Establish your expertise.

A – Acquire paid speaking gigs.

K – Know when to scale


This is the framework Grant covers in The Successful Speaker: Five Steps for Booking Gigs, Getting Paid, and Building Your Platform.




The Speaker Lab


The Speaker Lab Podcast


Grant on Facebook


Grant on Instagram


Free Speaker Workshop


The Successful Speaker: Five Steps for Booking Gigs, Getting Paid, and Building Your Platform


Speaker Fee Calculator


Wall Drug



Call To Action


Check out this episode!


Ep 097 -- A Stroke in her 20s became a stroke of luck for Maddi Niebanck

I love the stroke survivor community on Instagram. So many survivors share their victories, their struggles, and their lives there, it really shows we are not alone.

It’s also where I met Maddi Niebanck (@MaddiStrokeOfLuck). She regularly does live broadcasts there and includes guests from time-to-time. After one of those broadcasts, I knew I wanted to talk with her on the show.

Maddi had her stroke a few days before I had mine. We were both going through rehab thousands of miles away from each other at the same time.

And now she has a new book coming out. We talk about that and more in this episode.


Madeline Niebanck stands by a window in a high-rise wearing a black jacket and big scarf

Madeline Niebanck graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, DC, in May of 2017. A few days later she went to the hospital for a planned surgery to treat an Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM). An untreated AVM can result in a serious stroke. During a pre-surgery procedure, though, that AVM gave way and Maddi suffered a stroke.

While going through recovery, Maddi wrote her first book, Fashion Fwd: How Today’s Culture Shapes Tomorrow’s Fashion. Readers loved the book, but especially connected with Maddi’s story of stroke recovery.

That response inspired her to write her second book, Fast Fwd: The Fully Recovered Mindset. It will be available in April, 2020.

Trailer for Fast Fwd

Hack of the Week

Try an ice bath to deal with tone and spasticity. Plunging your and or arm into a pitcher of ice water may relax the tone or spasticity you are experiencing and allow you to get more out of the exercises you do to recover function.

Of course, it’s always a good idea to check with your therapist or doctor before trying something like this, but it may be just the thing to open that hand.


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 096 -- Write a Memoir with Christine H. Lee

I’m typing this on January 1, but whenever you read this, it is the first day of the next year of your life, and that’s a great time to start sharing your story.

As a stroke survivor, survivor of some other acute or chronic trauma, care giver, professional, or just someone who has lived some life, you have a story to tell. You have experiences to share. You’ve worked through some emotional stuff. Or you haven’ worked through it, but it’s sill there.

And maybe you’ve thought about writing a memoir.

Christine H. Lee joined us last year to talk about her memoir, Tell Me Everything You Don’t Remember. She is an author, teacher, and stroke survivor. Today, she’s back to help you start writing your own memoir.

7 Lessons in this Episode

  • An autobiography is about a person. A memoir is about a person’s experience.
  • Understand the roles of author, character, and narrator.
  • There is universality in the particular.
  • The Oxford Comma is awesome.
  • Get a cohort.
  • We are about more than stroke.
  • Keep writing.


Christine H Lee Headshot

Christine H. Lee is the author of a memoir (TELL ME EVERYTHING YOU DON’T REMEMBER), which was featured in Self magazineTimeThe New York Times, and NPR’s Weekend Edition with Scott Simon. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in ZYZZYVAGuernicaThe RumpusThe New York Times, and BuzzFeed, among other publications. She also has an urban farm–you can read about her farm exploits at Backyard Politics. Her novel is forthcoming from Ecco / Harper Collins.

Born in New York City, Christine earned her undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley and her MFA at Mills College. She has been awarded a residency at Hedgebrook, and her pieces have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and placed in competitions such as the Poets and Writers’ Magazine Writers Exchange Contest, Glimmer Train Fiction Open, and others. She is currently a Distinguished Visiting Writer at Saint Mary’s College of California’s MFA program and an Editor at The Rumpus.

If you would like to order a signed copy of TELL ME EVERYTHING YOU DON’T REMEMBER, you may order it from East Bay Booksellers and specify in the notes section that you would like a signed copy (or two or three) and any customization (if it should be addressed to a particular person). They will then fulfill it with signature. And you would be supporting a local bookstore, which warms Christine’s heart.

Trailer for Tell Me Everything You Don’t Remember

Oxford Comma

Consider these two sentences:

  1. At the support group, we learned about the main causes of stroke, kittens, and Barb’s muffins.
  2. At the support group, we learned about the main causes of stroke, kittens and Barb’s muffins.

The first sentence says that we learned about 3 things:

  • The main causes of stroke
  • Kittens
  • Barb’s muffins

The second sentence says that we learned about the main causes of stroke. Those causes are:

  • Kittens
  • Barb’s muffins

The words are the same. The difference is that comma after kittens. That comma is called the Oxford Comma, and it’s somewhat controversial.

Many folks feel you should only use it if it clarifies the sentence. Otherwise you should leave it out.

I’m of the school of thought that we should always use it when writing a sentence with three or more things in a list like that.

There have even been lawsuits where the decision came down to whether the comma was in the written law or not.

Here is the Wikipedia article with more information.

Understanding the Memoir

One of the big lessons for me was understanding just what a memoir is.

It’s not an autobiography, which recounts the history of the person. As I think about writing my own book, I was getting hung up on this idea. Why is my life interesting enough that someone should read about it? What is the value for the reader?

But that’s not what a memoir is. A memoir is about an aspect of the author’s life and the impact it had on the author’s life. It’s not about the author’s life itself.

People read autobiographies to learn about the person, but that’s not why the read memoirs. As Christine said, “People read memoirs because of the subject, theme, or writing style.”

In other words, it’s not about me.

It’s funny because the obvious things sometimes elude me most strongly.

On mt other show, 2-Minute Talk Tips, that’s one of the key lessons I teach about public speaking. If you’re afraid of public speaking, remember, IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU.

It’s about your audience.
It’s about your message.
It’s about your goal or call to action.
It’s about what you hope to achieve by delivering that talk.

It’s not about you.

The story you want to tell and the lessons you want to share — they’re about more than your ego.

That makes it a lot easier.

Author — Narrator — Character

This is another structure that Christine shared that helps in writing. We got into it when I started talking about Pathos, Logos, and Ethos in public speaking. You can learn more about that concept here.

In many books, these concepts are more distinct. In fiction, especially, a character is different from the author.

In a memoir, it can get a bit squishy. A writer needs to understand what role the words on the page are serving.

The author is writing and knows the whole story.

The narrator can provide hindsight and wisdom the character hasn’t acquired yet.

The character is going through it as the story progresses.

Understanding those relationships helps you write a stronger book.

That is some advanced stuff, and Christine does a much better job explaining it in the interview.

For my part, this is a structure I’m going to need to explore and noodle on a bit more.

A Cohort

A stroke survivor benefits greatly from a support group. We need that connection to other people living through something similar. We can share our victories and losses. It can help us cut through the isolation and loneliness that many survivors experience.

Writers need a group, too. Find your writing cohort. Maybe it’s a group you take a class with. Maybe it’s a writing group you form through school or that you find in your community.

Find a group of people that you can share experiences with — where you can celebrate one another’s wins and support each other through your struggles.

Writing can be an isolating experience. It’s just you and a blank piece of paper or a blinking cursor. That’s why it’s so important to find your cohort.

Stroke is part of us, but it’s not us

Christine and I, of course, talked about our strokes because they make us who we are today. At the same time though, the conversation itself isn’t about stroke. It’s about writing and what authors need to know. Christine’s advice isn’t specific to stroke survivors; it applies to anyone who has gone through a major event and wants to share it with the world.

In a stroke focused podcast, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea of stroke. It’s why we are part of this community. It informs who we are, but it doesn’t define who we are. We are writers, speakers, teachers, trainers, Harry Potter fans, parents, kids, friends, co-workers, bus passengers, and so much more.

Stroke and disability impact all those relationships and characteristics, but they don’t erase them. A conversation like we had today lets us share the expertise we do have beyond our stroke survivor status.

Walk into any stroke support group meeting and listen to people’s stories. The things we have in common are healing and empowering. The things about us that are different are fascinating. The roads and lives that got us in that same room are different with their own flavor. We bring varied lives to this community and we live varied lives as part of the community.

And that’s why despite all the survivor stories that have already been written, there’s still room for your personal, powerful, one-of-a-kind story.

Hack of the Week

The biggest tip to writing is just to keep writing. That’s it.

You don’t have to get it right and perfect at the start. Just keep writing. Revisions and edits are what turn it into the final product.

Walking into any book store or library, and do you know what you will not find on the shelves?

First drafts!

Just keep writing. If you get stuck, just write about being stuck.

If you can’t think of anything “good” to write, try to write badly. Try writing the most cheesy, confusing, inappropriate, meandering, and cliched thing you can.

But keep writing.

Don’t worry about grammar and spelling.

Just keep writing.

Because wonderful things can happen when you keep writing.


Christine H. Lee Website


Christine’s previous blog


Christine on Twitter


Christine on Instagram


Christine’s Mailing List


Christine’s Buzzfeed article that started it all


Buy the book at East Bay Booksellers


Buy the Book on Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/Tell-Everything-You-Dont-Remember-ebook/dp/B01EFLYG UO/ref=sr_1_

Christine on Catapult


Stroke Net


Oxford Comma on Wikipedia


Oxford Comma Lawsuit


Pathos, Logos, and Ethos


Where do we go from here?

  • To learn more about Christine, find her book, or check out her classes, or learn about her chickens, visit the links above.
  • Share this episode with your stroke support group, Instagram family,writing group, aspiring writers you know, English teachers, or anyone else who may have a story to tell. Give them the link http://Strokecast.com/writeyourstory
  • Start working on your memoir, and let me know about it.
  • Don’t get best…get better.

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