Stroke in your 20s Will Change Your Path

A stroke is, of course, a traumatic event. It kicks off a deep dive into the medical system of whatever country you're in.

For some, the first stroke is just a preview. Or even an intermission in other ongoing medical issues. That was the experience of Kawan Glover.

He's come back from multiple strokes and brain surgeries to be an author, coach, and speaker. And he did all that before he was 25. Today, I talk with Kawan about his journey.

(If you don't see the audio player below, visit http://Strokecast.com/KawanGlover)


About Kawan

From KawanGlover.Com

Kawan Glover stands outside in front of a brick building with his hand on his chin looking at the camera.

In the summer of 2014, Kawan noticed a lack of coordination and muscle control, specifically on his right side. One morning, while working at his internship, it became clear he had difficulty speaking and writing. He was instructed to go to the Doctor's off where they ran neurological tests. After seeing the results, the Doctor strongly advised Kawan to go to the Hospital. Kawan was not alarmed and felt the issue was being overblown.

Despite what he felt, Kawan heeded the Doctor's instructions and went to the Hospital of Southern Maryland. There he waited six hours to get a CT scan. After some time, the Doctor came out to shed light on what, if anything, was wrong. The Doctor told him he had a lesion (area of tissue that has been damaged through injury or disease) on his brain, but he would need an MRI to get more in-depth details. To get the MRI done, Kawan went to George Washington Hospital. The imaging came back and the doctors told Kawan he had a Cavernous Malformation. Kawan didn't know what that meant, so he thought nothing of it when he was told to go home and monitor.

Within a few days, Kawan was back in the Hospital when his coordination worsened, and his vision became blurry. He returned to GW Hospital and had his first brain surgery on August 15th, 2014. That may have been a moment of pause and reflection for most, but at 20 years old, there was no stopping Kawan. Only a week later, he returned to school and everything that came with it. Drinking, partying, and staying up late. As a result, he had a stroke a month later, on September 18th, 2014. After spending a month in rehab, he returned to school with a new mindset, but yet again, life had other plans.

The benign brain tumor would grow back twice, resulting in two more brain surgeries on October 1st, 2015, and October 12th, 2017. In between those surgeries, Kawan struggled with suicidal ideations, depression, and opioid addiction. After everything was over, Kawan had a whopping medical bill of $1.2 million. Despite all his hardships, Kawan still graduated and started a coaching business called Overcome Adversity LLC. He is also a Podcaster with a podcast called Favor: The Podcast. All fitting for someone with his background.

Kawan wrote a book called "Favor: How Stroke Struggle and Surgery Helped Me Find My Life's Purpose"* He is an author, a coach, but most notably a survivor. He now uses his story to inspires others, and transform them from a victim to a Victor!

Favor ain't fair. It's Just Favor.

Kawan quoted his grandmother as saying, "Favor ain't fair. It's Just Favor." Good things and bad things will happen to good people and bad people.

We can complain all we want that it isn't fair. It isn't just. And maybe it's not. Maybe we lived a good life. We were nice to everyone. We took care of the less fortunate. We respected our partners, friends, and family when appropriate. And stroke still happened.

Maybe we did all the health stuff right:

  • No smoking
  • No illicit drugs
  • No excessive alcohol consumption
  • Healthy diet and exercise
  • Appropriate blood pressure and blood sugar
  • Etc.

And we still had a stroke. Maybe no one even knows why.

It's not fair.

Now that we know that, what are we going to do about it?

We can mourn the loss of our previous life -- the hopes and dreams we don't think we can entertain anymore. Grief and mourning are fine. Healthy even.

But then what?

Favor ain't fair.

We've still got to live our lives. Just because it's not fair is no reason to stop and give up. There's so much more for us to do.

The Power of the V

Kawan talked about the  nature of the V. I like the representation of the shape.

The idea is that at our lowest point in life, we've fallen down into a valley. We may be hurt or injured from that fall. But that's only half the letter V. To make it to victory, we have to climb back up the other side of that V to get out of that valley of pain and loss and figure out the next step for ourselves. Climbing that V -- getting out of the bottom of that trough is hart work.

That's where it's important to leverage the community around us. The other survivors still climbing out of their own Vs and those who've made it can help. The family and friends around us who want us to succeed can help. We can help ourselves through our own efforts.

And as we start to climb the V, a look over our shoulders will show us other people just trying to start their own climb or thinking about starting their own climb. We can help our own efforts, too, by helping them, and sharing our own tips of the best routes, paths, and climbing gear.

Hack of the Week

Kawan mentioned floss picks.* This is a great tool for flossing one handed. They're basically disposable picks with an inch or so of dental tightly strung between 2 ends. It makes it easy to hold with one hand and slip (or force) the floss between your teeth.

This is especially important if you have face weakness. After a stroke, it's easy to fall into the habit of having food bits accumulate on the affected side of our mouth as we eat. We don't feel them as much and the assorted muscles in our mouth are not as effective at getting rid of everything.

Plus, after stroke, I picked up some tendencies of a toddler. Everything ended up in my mouth -- key fobs, credit cards, tough-to-open bags, and more. My mouth became an emergency hand. That probably wasn't a good idea, but for many of us, it is reality.

The point is that dental hygiene -- brushing AND flossing -- is even more important after a stroke. Take care of your teeth. You don't want to add more dental issues on top of the other issues you're dealing with.

Floss picks like these can help. *


(If you don't see the table of links below, visit http://Strokecast.com/KawanGlover)

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