I write this not for pity, but to give you some insight into
what I wrestle with and hopefully so you can get to know
me a little better. I was 43, in the prime of life or just the
beginning, some would say. I had a successful career, a
wonderful family and a musical hobby I truly enjoyed.
I exercised twice a day for 60 minutes, watched
my diet, routinely checked my blood pressure and
cholesterol. I was getting pretty good at my music, too,
figuring out my favorite rock and blues songs and even
learning how to solo. I enjoyed going to work every day,
not something many can say.
The stroke came out of the blue in the middle of the
night, like an IED (improvised explosive device) in Desert
Storm. I was told I should’ve died. It took away my career,
relationships, my music, and for some divine reason that
I do not yet understand, left me here with a broken body,
a scrambled mind, always tired and old before my time.
It left me to make this journey alone, and having to learn
simple things all over again. Stroke, I hate you!
Old friends have gone, because they just can’t
understand why I can’t be what I once was. But fortunately
new friends have come. I used to tease my grandparents
for their afternoon naps, now I have to do the same. Late
nights out with friends are a thing of the past.
My spouse and I separated over issues the stroke
raised because she could not understand why after all
the therapy, I did not come home as the person I used to
be. Reconciliation was impossible due to DEEP wounds
from words said. My boys don’t understand the things I
do; I’m not the father they once knew.
My neurologist says hope is on the horizon and I
believe him, but time marches slowly. I sit here with
foot-drop, depression, left-side weakness, short- and
long-term memory issues, infrequent seizures, a cocktail
of medications to be taken daily that help as much as
slow me down. I wonder what’s the next shoe to drop?
Stroke, I hate you!
You have ruined my life, but considering the
alternative, maybe I won the battle. I continue to stare
you down every day! You’ve robbed me of my vitality,
but I can still reason and love. Each day my feet hit the
floor is a little victory.
I know God exists and has a purpose for me, to be
revealed in His time. On multiple occasions I wanted to
By Ralph Stalnecker, Jr. | Survivor