Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The Story Behind The Book

Gary Gray - Learning to Communicate Again

O. K. here is the challenge... First you have a blood vessel blow out in the middle of your brain. Then, your grey matter is being flooded by your own blood. Every brain cell that gets caught in the flood dies. This whole chain of events throws your body into a state of shock and it just wants to sleep. You know that you are still alive but you don't know much more. Your body  simply refuses to wake up for 21 days. Then, well into the 22nd day your body decides that just maybe we could take a peek to see just how bad things are.

The damage report is not encouraging. Thinking ability is mainly just a fog. Trying to remember, can't remember. Aggggh feeling frustrated. Feeling anxious need air. "Don't take away my fan".  Feeling confused. Hey, my  watch is on my Right wrist! Left arm feeling very heavy. Left leg feeling heavy too. I want to write something, can't, my hand won't move. Can't read either, the words are just swimming about on the paper. Can't walk, no, that's why two nurses are checking the instructions to get me into that sling contraption. They want me to transfer to the wheel chair or get me to the bathroom. I guess I will be peeing sitting down for awhile.

Man, What the heck happened to me? Early the first morning after my body woke up, my brain began replaying the events of the last day just before my body receded into that deep sleep. The detail was shockingly clear. It was as if my brain was replaying the tape trying to find an answer to that very question. "What the heck happened to me?"

This  is how my life after stroke began. How did I get from the car wreck that I have just described to finding my "new normal" and getting on with the rest of my life. There is more to that story than I have space to relate on this blog post. In future posts I will try to fill in some of those blank spaces.

As I began to put the pieces of what was my life back together. I began thinking about how can I get my life back. What pieces of my jigsaw puzzle life can I begin to put into place. There are many pieces that will tell my story in future posts but an important one was, that I couldn't use my Left hand to write any more, and my brain was so foggy that it was difficult to think through a simple sequence of events with any clarity.

Along the way, about six years into my recovery, the local library was starting a writers group and the librarian encouraged me to come. She knew me from the many visits when I would come to borrow books to read. It was my way to. One - clear my brain fog. Two - learn as much as I possibly could about stroke and how others had recovered. Three - retrain my eyes to see lines of print that actually made sense rather than just disjointed words moving about on the paper.

Interestingly, I felt the need to improve my communication skills and I could tell from reading what others had done that writing was a key to regaining and improving a very valuable part of my brain/body relationship that I would like to be "me".

Amazingly, as a member of this group I was able to learn, develop, share and adjust to the point where I was accepted as a  contributor to the book the group had decided to publish that year.

Although the book "Prince Edward Island Tales" has since  been discontinued from print, I was encouraged to contribute some additional pieces, along with my original ones, to the second edition of "Prince Edward Tales". This book is still available online through Amazon as well as local stores during the summer months.

I have now been a member of this group for three seasons and I continue to be appreciative of the support and encouragement that has been given me by it's members. Through the monthly meets,  public reading events and workshops associated with the group I continue to improve my communication skills and get on with the rest of my life after stroke.

Thank's  for reading my short story post. I would like to share more of "my life after stroke" in future posts. Stroke is a terrible life changing experience. The good news is that recovery is possible. Join with stroke survivors here on our blog, Facebook Fan page and Twitter feed to learn/share more. Feel free to join in the conversation. Tell us your story or ask your most burning questions.

Stroke Survivor since 2002


  1. Our patient suffered from a stroke when he was in the womb, he is making great advanced and spreading the word about pediatric strokes; his story is inspiring... read out recent update in our blog!

  2. Hi Colleen,

    Thank you so much for sharing. We have added your blog to the blogs that we follow. The link is on the Right sidebar. (you are the first but we look forward to more in future)I love how the bears help the kids in dealing with stroke recovery.


  3. Very well written. I also wrote a book but have yet to get it published. I run an online stroke support community. http://StrokesSuck.com

  4. Hi Bob,

    Thanks for dropping by. Congratulations on your book and all that you are doing for the stroke community.I do have to admit that the name does take a little getting used to. It initially gave me a negative feeling rather then the positive one that I work hard to maintain. Anyway, I wish you well with your recovery and I would love it if you could share your story with us. (the elevator pitch version lol)

    Smiles :o)