5th Strokeaversary

June 3, 2022, was my fifth Strokeaversary.

It's an important milestone. My risk for a second stroke is now statistically lower, but that not why this matters. It's not about celebrating experiencing a stroke. It celebrating survival and recovery. It's about coming back from a battle with my own blood vessels both damaged and enriched.

It's complicated. But that blood clot on the morning of June 3, 2017, changed the direction of my life for good.

In this solo episode I share some more thoughts and feelings about my experience.

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


Don't get best…get better

I end every episode and nearly every blog post with this line, but what does it mean?

It means that constantly trying to be the best is a flawed path. To be the best at something means that everyone else has to be worse. It is an approach that actively discourages people from working together to help one another. The experiences of these past few years show us just how much we do need to work together and support one another.

Instead of focusing on being the best, focusing on just being a tiny bit better every day. Make the effort to consistently improve just a tiny bit. Help others to improve just a tiny bit, too.

Those little bits of improvement -- of growth -- add up over the days, weeks, months, and years. It can take you so much further that just focusing on the win/lose yes/so succeed/fail dichotomy that a focus on being the best promotes.

Where is my recovery today?

My recovery is ongoing. It didn't stop at the 6 month mark. Or the 12 month mark. Or the 24 month mark. Recovery doesn't stop on some artificial timeline.

My fingers are still getting better. I'd say I have about 15% of the use of my left hand back at this point. I can use it for practical stuff. Not in the same way I did before the stroke of course, but it will get there given enough time and work.

Right now my legs are tired because of an unplanned Costco shopping excursion where they were out of electric mobility carts. And since it was unplanned, I didn't wear my AFO so it was a lot more work. But I did it. And I wouldn't have been able to 3 years ago.

I also recently got my latest thrice yearly Dysport injection (a BOTOX alternative) . This medication treats the tone and spasticity in my left arm. My doctor was able to use less this time and treat fewer muscles. Again, it's another example of progress.

It's not all perfect, of course. I'm still living with fatigue, exacerbated by my recent COVID experience. So that's fun. And it's part of the reason I'm getting this episode out a week later than I had planned.  Adapting is what we do, though.

Going forward

I still have lots of projects to pursue as I go forward. I'm working on a book right now. Actually, I've been working on it for a year and a half and had to start over somewhere in the middle. I look forward to sharing more details on that later in the year.

I've also been doing more talks with survivor groups, students, and more to share my story and to help others share their stories. I plan to do more of that in the coming year. If you're looking for a speaker for your support group, reach out and let me know.


That brings me to the importance of storytelling. It's a theme that comes up again and again in my work. Professionally, I help journalists use Microsoft tools to tell stories more efficiently. I tell stories as part of that training process. Strokecast itself is built around empowering survivors and professionals tell their stories to educate and encourage the entire stroke community. Those stories help build connections across the silos of expertise and experience we find ourselves living in.

In sales and marketing, we say, "Facts tell; stories sell." Talking about stroke isn’t just about drilling into the biological details (though that is important). It's about telling the stories of real people or processes to connect those facts the lived experience we have. It's about helping patients, doctors, researchers, therapists, and commercial partners all experience one another as real people instead of just a bullet point list of details.

People don't want to go to a lecture on facts. They do want to go hear someone's story. That's how people connect with material.

Our earliest cultural touchstones in Western Civilization are based around storytelling -- from the ancient greek mythology to the slightly less ancient Homeric tales to the Christian bible where Jesus instructs his followers not with just precepts, but with parables -- stories -- that make the point.

The Brothers Grimm didn't just make a list of rules for safety and moral codes. The collected, recorded, and refined the fairy tales to serve as warnings to children about the dangers of the world.

My story and your story are how we can talk about stroke with others. That we can explain what it is, what to do, how to spot it, and potentially, how to avoid it. And even more importantly, that stroke and brain injury doesn't need to be an end. It can be a change -- a new beginning to a new phase in life. We may lose somethings while we gain so many more.

Was stroke a blessing or a curse?

I ask this question of most of my guests because it's one I struggle with myself. Most of my guests say it was a blessing. I'm not so sure.

For my detailed thought process on this question, though, I encourage to you listen to the episode or check out the transcript.

How can you support me?

There are a few things you can do to support me and the Strokecast. These are all things that help to grow the platform so more people can experience that value that you experience. Growing the platform will be a big help to me.

First, tell people about the show or tell them about your favorite episodes. The single best way to get more people to listen to a podcast is word of mouth from trusted friends and colleagues. They can find it in their favorite app, or they can just go to http://Strokecast.com

Second, subscribe to the Strokecast newsletter so you get updates and news when I'm able to share them via email.

Third, follow me on Instagram where I am @Bills_Strokecast. I post a lot of quotes from previous episodes and a few personal updates.

Fourth, invite me to speak to your virtual or local stroke support group. My webcam is always ready. Or hire me to speak at your conference or professional event/meeting. Just email me at Bill@Strokecast.com

Hack of the Week

When it's time to shop for a new mobile phone, look for one with a screen size of 5.5" or smaller. They're getting tough to find.

If you have only one functioning hand a larger screen is much harder to use. You have to be able to hold it in your hand and reach all the important stuff on the screen with just your thumb. If you can’t reach something on the screen it's quite frustrating, and it increases the odds you'll drop your phone.


Where do we go from here?

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast

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