22 STROKECONNECTION Spring 2017
the main reason for that may be my healthy lifestyle —
before and after the stroke.
Regular exercise and good nutrition habits that provide
all the vitamins and minerals that the body needs are
critical. Even when I was an investment advisor, I would
play touch football with friends at lunch. Later, I swam
and hit the gym for cardio exercise. I got into yoga, Pilates,
tai chi and qigong, which also address the mind and spirit.
And I learned enough about nutrition over the years that
a few years ago, I did some work as a nutrition consultant
after completing two years of nutrition course work.
Besides, exercise and healthy foods make me feel good!
Then there’s mental and emotional health, which is
equally important. For most of my life I’ve tried to learn
new things. I’ve meditated and taught meditation classes.
I’ve benefited from Rolfing. I’ve immersed myself in the
teachings of the Chilean psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo,
and spiritual teachers Bob Hoffman and Prasanna Seth.
I’ve surrounded myself with motivated, spiritual people
and groups. Rest, even when it isn’t sleep, is so important,
too. Just allowing yourself 20 or 30 minutes of quiet time
each day, especially when you’re healing from something
as traumatic as stroke, does wonders.
Acceptance (and other tactics)
The main thing I’ve learned is to simply accept things
as they are. I adopted this philosophy: It is what it is and
you can only do the best you can do.
There are some practical things you can do that make
a big difference. For me it’s talking and writing all that
I can. When I’m not talking or writing, I’m walking
around the house or the neighborhood while working on
my cognitive abilities. I’ll walk through the kitchen and
identify objects by saying them aloud: “Table…stove…
bread.” I’ll walk outside and say: “House…tree…truck.”
Just saying the objects’ names is helpful.
What I’m doing is re-educating my mind, moving it
forward. Like the body, the mind can always recover if
you work on it. It’s just like a muscle: If you push the
muscle, it’s going to get bigger and stronger. I know this
from my Rolfing and bodywork practice. The body and
mind are always trying to be happy and full.
Stroke survivors should take advantage of as many
resources as possible. Besides the speech therapist, I’ve
been helped by the Aphasia Center of California in
Oakland and other health professionals. I have books about
I don’t pretend to
know the secret
of life, but I think
that my recovery
from this stroke
has led me to one
Survivor Hal Milton with his wife Sonya