Episode 020 -- Meet Emilee Mason

This week, I talk with Emilee Mason. Emilee was one of the OTs I worked with when I was in the hospital. She's one of the folks who helped me get my arm moving again and helped me develop some of the new life skills I would need, like how to get into the shower.

We met up at a local Starbucks (I should figure out how to get them to sponsor this) and had a wide ranging conversation that covered topics like:

  • What is OT?
  • Motivating patients
  • Dealing with unruly patients
  • Caring for caregivers
  • What happens when a medical provider becomes a patient


Hack of the Week

If you have trouble with using a wash cloth in the shower, try an oven mitt instead. Instead of trying to grip it with the affected had, simple slip your hand into it so you can still bathe with that affected hand.


Where do we go from here?

  • Do you want to hear more interviews like this? Let me know in the comments below.
  • If you listen on an iPhone or other Apple device, you can help the show by heading over to the Apple Podcast store and leaving a rating or review for Strokecast.
  • Try using an oven mitt if you struggle to hold a wash cloth.
  • Don't get best...get better.


Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Episode 068 -- Raise Your Energy and Meet Melanie Childers

2-Minute Tip: Raise Your Energy


One of the most powerful things you can do to conduct an effective presentation is to raise your energy and dominate your stage. There are a lot of ways you can do that. You can channel your inner Lady Gaga or try running in place. Regardless of how you do it, a high energy level will put you in a position to let your message burst through.


Post-Tip Discussion: Meet Melanie Childers

Melanie Childers Headshot

Melanie is a coach focused on helping progressive women run for political office or other wise change the world through advocacy. Her own experience surviving cancer helped her chart this new path to make her world a better place.

We have a wide-ranging discussion this week that covers topics like confidence, focusing on a message, the challenges women face in running for office that often men do not, the nature of neuroplasticity, depression, suicide, authenticity, and mindset to name a few.

I first encountered Melanie through Lyn Henderson's Inside Knowledge podcast. It was a great discussion so I had to invite her on 2-Minute Talk Tips.

As I spoke with Melanie this week, Mario Porreca 2 weeks ago, and next week's guest, one theme that comes through is the importance of controlling and choosing your mindset. To be successful, you first have to believe you can be successful. The other common theme is the importance of authenticity -- of sharing a message you can believe it. When speaking from the heart, the discussion is less about yourself, or, rather, your ego. It let's the audience more fully experience your story.

We mentioned a number of resources this week. Here is a collection of those links.



Call To Action


  • What are your thoughts on running for office or otherwise using public speaking to change the world? Let us know in the comments below.
  • Check out Melanie's website and services at The Enlightened Bad-ass.
  • Do you know someone who might benefit from this episode? Share this link with them: http://2minutetalktips.com/Melanie
  • Raise your energy before your next talk.
  • Don't get best...get better.



Check out this episode!


Episode 019 -- Meet Dr. Kate Lorig

This week, I talk with Dr. Kate Lorig, about her new book, Building Better Caregivers.
Image of the book cover for Building Better Caregivers

I learned about the book from Dr. Danbi Lee, an Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy at the University of Washington, and a contributing author, through our work with the Seattle Young Adult Stroke Survivors group.

The book is a collection of tools to help caregivers more effectively care for both survivors and themselves. The resources and advice are accessible and practical.

It covers a wide variety of topics including:

  • How to run a family meeting
  • How to ask for help
  • Different types of mobility aids and adaptive gear
  • Understanding behavioral issues
  • Exercise
  • … and much more.

Some of the advice that sticks out most for me is that to support a caregiver, don't just ask what you can do to help. Instead offer a specific form of assistance.

Kate has been working in this space for years and through the Self Management Resource Center has put together a number of programs around Building Better Caregivers. She even work with the Veterans Administration on an interactive, online program that Veterans or their caregivers should check out.

Here are the assorted links and resources we talked about this week.

Buy the book https://www.bullpub.com/catalog/Building-Better-Caregivers
Dr. Kate Lorig on Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kate_Lorig
Dr. Kate Lorig at Stanford https://profiles.stanford.edu/kate-lorig
Building Better Caregivers Program https://www.selfmanagementresource.com/programs/small-group/building/
VA Building Better Caregivers Program https://va.buildingbettercaregivers.org/
Self-Management Resource Center https://www.selfmanagementresource.com/
National Association of Area Agencies on Aging https://www.n4a.org/

Hack of the Week

Some of the best tips are also the simplest. Kate reminds us to simple breathe. When the stress starts to build and situations start to become overwhelming, it can be surprising helpful to just take a moment, take a few deep breaths, and recenter yourself. It won't solve the problem, but it will help put you in the right mindset to solve the problem.

Where do we go from here?

  • Check out the book for yourself or pick one up as a gift for a caregiver you know.
  • If you are a caregiver, prepare a list of tasks ahead of time that you would like help with so you're ready when someone offers assistance.
  • If you want to help a caregiver, offer specific assistance.
  • When things get stressful, breathe.
  • Subscribe to Strokecast in Apple Podcasts, the new Google Podcast App, or wherever you get your podcasts.
  • Don't get best...get better.

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Episode 067 -- Poll the Audience and the Power of Limits

2-Minute Tip: Poll the Audience


A simple way to increase audience engagement and inter action is to poll the audience. Ask them if they've had some sort of experience, like dealing with a tough customer or a misunderstanding with a boss. You already know the answer (probably) so you can use that to lead right in to your next point.


When you poll the audience be sure to tell the how to answer. Do you want the to say, "Yes!" Or do you want them to clap? Or do you want them to nod silently? If you don't make the choice for them, you never know what you'll get. 


A great choice is to ask them to raise their hand. And demonstrate this behavior when you ask for it. This way you get them moving physically plus you get points for using gestures.


Post Tip Discussion: The Power of Limits


People often think they want total freedom, and it's a nice idea. In reality, though, we do our best and most creative work within constraints or within limits. Those limits force us to make the best use of an available workspace. Instead of infinite options that are impossible to sort through, we have finite ones from which we can make our best selections.


When preparing a talk, the most important limit is our goal. By defining our goal, we establish the framework all our other topics must fit into. If a point we think we want to make doesn't support our goal, it's gone. Get rid of it. It's irrelevant to our topic and will only waste everyone's time. Plus the audience will think the speaker is rambling and boring.


Other important limits on our talks include the environment we will speak in. It's why we need to ask things like:

  • Where will I be speaking?
  • Who will I be speaking to?
  • How much time do I have?
  • What AV gear is available?
  • When will I be speaking
  • …and much more.


Too much choice is problematic. In Robert Cialdini's book Influence (affiliate link), he talk about a jam selling experiment. When a store increased the varieties of jam customers could choose from, sales went down. When they took away choices, sales went up.


Too many choices paralyzes us. We are afraid of making the wrong choice. Of being embarrassed. 


Working within certain limits empowers us to do our best work.


Call To Action


  • What are your thoughts on the power of limits? Let us know in the comments below.
  • Share this episode with a colleague and ask them their thoughts about limits. Or about Madonna.
  • Poll the audience during your next talk.
  • Don't get best...get better.

Check out this episode!


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