London Cop and Stroke Survivor Becomes a Fantasy Author


James Horton was a young police officer in London. He was 27 and felt invincible. His partner (personal one, not police one) was about to give birth to their first child. Naturally, that's the time a life of high blood pressure caught up with him and he experienced a hemorrhagic stroke.

In this week's conversation, we James and I talk about that experience, how policing in London compares to policing in the US, how his stroke impacted his life and career, and how he came to write his fantasy novels in the Blue Swords series.*

You can listen to our conversation in the player above or in your favorite podcast app. If you don't see the player, visit the full article at http://Strokecast.com/JamesHorton.

About James

Headshot of stroke survivor, fantasy author, and London police officer James Horton. James smiles facing the camera in front of a white backdrop

From James' Amazon Author page:

James Horton left his hometown in rural Lincolnshire to join the police service in London at the age of nineteen. Serving as a police officer in several units, James has had his eyes opened to the highs and lows that comes with serving as a constable.

Suffering a stroke at the age of twenty-seven, James turned to historic action novels to help settle his mind and aid his recovery.

After his recovery, James decided to start writing his own novel, combining a career in the police and his passion of medieval stories. His first book, BLUE SWORDS, the first of The Crimes and Crests Saga has been based on true events, merged with a historic twist.

Author profits for Blue Swords, books 1&2* will be donated to the Stroke Association UK.

James would love to hear from his readers and can be contacted via his author page.

High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure is a major cause of stroke. It caused James' stroke. It caused my stroke. It caused the stroke of many of my guests. It's easy to check because home blood pressure monitors are pretty cheap.

Many people don't check, though. And many never know they even have high blood pressure until it's too late.

And that's because it doesn't hurt.

Generally, high blood pressure causes no pain or outward symptoms while it's slowly destroying our blood vessels, as surely as the surging Colorado River destroyed the rocks in the Arizona dessert to carve the Grand Canyon. That's a beautiful thing to look at in the ground. It's not so beautiful when it's happening in our bodies.

I only found out about mine when I started getting massive nose bleeds at random. By that point, the damage that would lead to my stroke had already been done.

The American Heart Association recommends we work to keep our blood pressure below 120/80 (I'm currently right there - YAY!)

I spoke about how it causes damage in much greater detail with Dr. Nirav H. Shah in episode 47.

You can listen to that episode here:

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

Here are 3 blood Pressure Monitors available on Amazon. Really, there are dozens or hundreds of options. I have no experience with these three directly, but they're a good place to start your shopping.

HoMedics Automatic Blood Pressure Monitor, Wrist*

Blood Pressure Monitor Upper Arm, Mebak Automatic Digital BP Machine Cuffs for Home Use*

OMRON Silver Blood Pressure Monitor, Upper Arm Cuff*

Chart from heart.org showing levels of hypertension

Johnny Cash -- Hurt

James talked about his experience listening to Johnny Cash's Hurt.

(If you don't see the video, http://Strokecast.com/JamesHorton)


Stroke Recovery Time Frame

There are still doctors and others who will tell a stroke survivor they have 6 months or 12 months of recovery and what they have at that point is all they'll ever get back James doctor told him he had just 12 weeks to recover.


As long as you live, you can still recover and regain function. Even years down the road survivors continue to recover. At four years post-stroke, I'm still getting finger control back.

Recovery will be fastest in the early days, sure, but it continues to be possible with hard work for years and decades after stroke.

Don't let anyone put an artificial cap on your recovery.

Hack of the Week

James talked about two things that help him with anxiety and depression.

First, get exercise. Even if it's just a little bot. Get some exercise. Get moving as best you can. It helps with health, but more importantly it helps with clearing your head.

Secondly, and in an oddly related way, is to try writing. That could be by hand, by keyboard, by voice, whatever. Writing is a powerful tool for not only enhancing your communication but also for helping you get stuff out of your head and calm your mind.

So take a few minutes to exercise your body and to exercise your pen.


(If you don't see any links, click here.)

Where do we go from here?

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


Stroke Leaves a Woman "Trapped Within"


Jo Ann Glim and her husband were enjoying the semi-retired lifestyle in their new, Florida home. They enjoyed day trips, volunteer activities, and other adventures. Jo Ann was starting a new temp gig at the Tropicana offices, and they were making all sorts of plans for the coming years

.A blood vessel deep in Jo Ann's brain had other plans. It ruptured and damaged her Thalamus on her first day at a new temp job.

Jo Ann would spend two weeks basically unconscious. With lots of work, determination, a a great team, she dove into her recovery.

Twenty four years later, she joins us to talk about her journey, her writing, the risks of being a problem solver, and the things that helped along the way.

Her book, Trapped Within: A True Story of Survival, Recovery, Love, and Hope* is available on Amazon.

About Jo Ann Glim

Jo Ann Glim sits in front of a dark background looking at the camera. She wears a black dress with white polka dots. She wears dark rimmed glasses

Jo Ann Glim was born in Chicago, Illinois to a military family and raised in Anacortes, Washington in the far reaches of the Pacific Northwest in a three-generational household. Even though the family was poor, she never knew it.  Poverty taught her life skills: self-sufficiency, creativity, and saving for a rainy day. Her childhood home was filled with love. Tragedy struck when she was fourteen and her mother passed away. Within three weeks, her grandparents were relocated to a nursing home in Illinois and she was taken in by her mother's sister. Everything she had known to be home was gone.

​After she finished school, Glim's career followed three paths: MEDIA - (as a disc jockey/copywriter) WSDM-FM Chicago, KMPX-FM San Francisco, and KIKI-AM Hawaii; and continued in COMMUNICATIONS - a forty-year freelance portfolio with credits including an award-winning column in fourteen northern Illinois newspapers; one-liners for nationally known comedians; monthly articles for Manatee County Florida's Chamber of Commerce Current magazine, to name a few. She took courses in BUSINESS MANAGEMENT - at a local college and after moving to the suburbs, began working for Kelly Services. Sixteen years later, she retired as an on-site Human Resources Manager responsible for the temporary needs of a Fortune 500 company. ​

She now lives in Florida with her husband, Bill, and their Scottish Terrier, Lucy. Her passions are writing, photography, and travel. She loves Chicago pizza, and is happiest travelling with her hubby, playing handbells, or on hiking trails with her camera and dog.


Jo Ann sent me a copy of her book before we talked.  The book, Trapped Within: A True Story of Survival, Recovery, Love, and Hope*, chronicles her stroke and rehab experience. She gets deeper into her relationships with doctors, therapists, and her therapy roommate and shares fears, frustrations, and lessons learned along the way.

Jo Ann writes with a crisp style that's easy to read. Her chapters are short. If you can read only a few pages without a nap, it's a nice choice. Or you can just read chunks of  it at one go.

You can find Trapped Within on Amazon in paper or eBook versions.

Check it out at http://Strokecast.com/TrapedWithin*

"Trapped Within": Book Trailer

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and the 5 Stages of Grief

Kubler-Ross wrote about grieving and death.  Recovering from stroke is similar, except instead of grieving over the loss of another person, we are grieving for the loss of our prior selves. Getting through that process takes time, but it also helps us adapt to the new life we have after stroke.

The 5 stages of grief are:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance.

If you're struggling with moving on with your life a neuropsychologist or other counselor can help you navigate this path.

Hack of the Week

Lainie Ishbia from Trend-Able, who I spoke with in Episode 136 suggests that if you struggle with fastening buttons on a shirt, you can get around that.

Just sew (or have someone else sew) the shirt closed at the buttons and turn it into a pull over. That way, you can still wear those stylish button down shirts without spending hours dealing with fussy closures single-handedly.

Another option for those shirts, if you're not ready to get them sewn up, is to get a button puller*. This is an inexpensive device that makes it easier to fasten buttons with one hand. I use mine most when I'm trying to put my dress shirts on a hanger.

Either way, you now have 2 fewer reasons to not wear that nice shirt.


Where do we go from here?

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast


From Locked in to Pageant Queen


At 30 years old, social worker Jeri Ward was incredibly busy. Perhaps too busy. Having a stroke was the not even on her radar. But then again, is it ever?

Multiple hospital visits and a failed thrombectomy later, she found herself completely paralyzed and unable to speak for months in a hospital bed. Scared, bored, and frustrated she would go on to recover, win the title of Mrs. Ohio International, and partner with the American Heart Association to raise awareness of stroke in the general population.

Jeri spoke to me for over an hour in the days leading up to the Mrs. International.

About Jeri Ward

Jeri Ward wears a gray blazer in a white/off white room near as window. She has long, brown hair.

Jeri Ward lives and works in Ohio. She built a busy career as a social worker, Autism specialist, and volunteer. Jeri was always on the go, with one project after another.

In the midst of that hectic schedule she nourished her passion of pageant life and lived it for decades. In 2018, Jeri was crowned Mrs. Ohio America.

Later that year, Jeri barely survived a massive ischemic stroke. She was locked inside her own body in an ICU bed for months. Gradually, she recovered her speech and movement. And she rededicated herself to the cause of stroke awareness and advocacy.

In 2021, Jeri returned to pageant life, winning the title of Mrs. Ohio International with a new platform of raising stroke awareness and advocating for survivors both at home and around the world.

She started the Lemonade Project to help folks learn and practice appropriate self-care.

Jeri currently works at the American Heart Association as a Development Director.

Mrs. International Pageant

A  lot of folks have preconceived notions about pageant winners, and often those notions are not true. Jeri is the fourth pageant winner I've had the pleasure meeting. Marsha Scmid was a guest on the show a couple years back after winning the title of Ms. Wheelchair USA. It was a stroke caused by a chiropractor that her eligible for that pageant.

Ina previous job, I had the pleasure of working with Hilary Billings, a former Miss Nevada. I interviewed Hilary for my other podcast, 2-Minute Talk Tips. You can hear that conversation here.

And I went to college with a woman who would go on to become Miss Montana. They have all been some of the smartest, hardest working people I know. Really incredible individuals.

The Mrs. International pageant, as Jeri describes it, puts a premium on contestants' platforms, a I don't mean their shoes.

This was a great match for Jeri who has turned her stroke into a cause -- to take every opportunity she can to help with stroke education and advocate for survivors.

Jeri did an amazing job at the finals, coming in in third place. She chronicled her journey on Instagram

Ohio Legislation

Jeri channeled her career experience, her stroke advocacy work, and the drive she uses in pageant life to help the Ohio State legislature pass SB21, which updates protocols for EMS. The short version is that this law will require ambulances to take stroke patients to an appropriate hospital, rather than the closest hospital.

As we know, time lost is brain lost, and moving folks from hospital to hospital costs time, money, and long-term disability

This legislation will help change that in Ohio.

Hack of the week

Explain things to people simply. Jeri talks about the headphones she wears due to her sensory processing challenges. She'll mention briefly why she wears them in meetings at work.

Disclosing and talking about disabilities is a challenging subject. Outside of our doctors, no one is entitled to know our medical history. Even then, there are limits. There are lots of very good reasons for minimizing disclosure given how wide-spread ableism is in this world.

At the same time, there's something to be said for acknowledging the elephant in the room. The elephant is metaphor in this case. Imagine you are having a conversation with a few people at somebody's home. You are not circus or zoo folks. Then an elephant walks into the room and just sits there. And no one says anything. How can anyone focus on the main thrust of the conversation?

A fraking elephant just walked into the room!

In order for conversation to continue, someone needs to say something about the elephant. Pretending it's not there isn't going to work. Once the owner/roommate of the elephant says, "Oh, that's just Bob. He's cool. So, anyway…"

You may still have a lot of questions about Bob, but you can put those aside from now and get back to a productive conversation.

When folks mention "the elephant in the room," they are talking about something that is big, unexpected, and that folks might want to ignore, but can't. Acknowledging the elephant lets us get back on track.

Sometimes, all we need to do is acknowledge our elephants.

When Jeri puts in her earphones in a business meeting, is that an elephant worth acknowledging? Often, yes. Should it be? Probably not.

But someone who isn't familiar with sensory processing challenges may be speaking, see someone put on headphones and assume they are being blatantly rude and ignoring them in an aggressive manner.

By telling people what you need, such as when Jeri mentions why she uses them without going into detail, it lets the meeting get back on track without someone taking offense.

On another note, this is why it's important, if you're comfortable doing so, to share your story. To normalize disability and the tools we use to make our world more accessible. Canes and headphones and rollators and splints and service dogs may be elephants today, but they don't have to be in the future.


Where do we go from here?

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast