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Stroke Survivor Inspires Others in Club

Posted by Lynn Bronikowski May 05 2016

Once a month Dick Taylor heads to a conference room at Emory Rehabilitation Hospital in Atlanta where he not only draws inspiration but inspires others.

Taylor experienced a stroke in September 2013 and shortly afterwards joined the Emory Stroke Survivors Club. National Stroke Association maintains a list of stroke support groups across the country.

“I still go once a month because it puts me back with the people who have encountered the same experience I had,” said Taylor, 67, a retired automobile dealer. “We share experiences and talk about such things as our rehab and certain medicines we are taking. I learn things from my peers and it keeps me in touch with my caregivers at Emory who always pump me up.”

He’s come a long way from the first meeting he attended when he was wheeled from his hospital room into a room full of fellow stroke survivors.

“There I was, rumpled up and in my pajamas.  I was one angry fellow,” said Taylor. “But I learned that everybody in that room was bright and you find there are some amazing people in this group. Every once in a while I’ll start feeling down but there’s always someone there to pick me up. For the entire month after I attend, I’m flying high.”

Taylor said the Emory Stroke Survivors Club is helpful to caregivers, too.

“Some of the programs are directed at caregiving,” said Taylor. “Caregivers learn a lot, get good tips and training and support as well. And, sometimes we laugh together.”

Taylor’s stroke, which he experienced in the hospital the night before he was to have hip replacement surgery, affected his left side. He spent five weeks in inpatient rehab, four months in out-patient rehab and estimates that he is 85 percent back to where he was before his stroke.

“I can’t play golf like I used to but I try,” he said. “I’m out there swinging and that’s a good place to be.”

Now when he goes to support meetings, he’s likely to stop by the hospital room of a recent stroke survivor and with his dog, Daisy, is a peer visitor to stroke survivors at Emory.

“I remember stopping by one man’s room and I could see myself lying there,” said Taylor. “I talked to him and then could see the light in his eyes that there was hope after stroke. It’s uplifting for yourself.”

He also has spoken to physical therapy classes at Emory.

“I tell them that there were times when all I wanted to do was watch ESPN and then the therapists would come knocking,” said Taylor. “They are so important because that’s what got me up and going.”

He also has been one of the monthly speakers at the Emory Stroke Survivors Club, penning a poem which he read to the group

Here’s Taylor’s “Ode to a Stroke, or A Life Altered.”

I was moving forward at a pace,
In this life called the human race,
With strength and purpose and resolved,
And little thought to how we evolve.

How simple it has been to ambulate,
My legs stride out with a steady gait,
Effortlessly in motion with no command,
To walk, to run, to sit or stand.

My arms reach and carry,
And hug and tote,
And accomplish tasks,
As if by rote.

And oh! My hands!
They grasp and cling and digitize,
Fingers point, Aha!
As I discover and realize.

How astonishing our bodies,
Intricate machines to behold,
Easily functioning,
Without being told!

Until…..that nightmarish instant,
Unforeseen, unexpected, unwarranted, unfair,
When an explosion of cranial havoc,
Renders me motionless and unaware.

I look at my lifeless arm,
I tell my hand to grip, to clasp,
And wonder why it won’t respond
Nothing works, “my God!” I gasp!

Minutes ago I was hearty and hale,
Now I lie here, wane and pale,
Feeling alone in my solitude,
Facing uncertainty and rectitude.

But….life goes on, I will survive,
I am told to work, I am alive,
Does anyone know how angry I feel,
Depressed, in pain, a long time to heal?

My life has been altered,
Run down from behind,
I could not see it coming,
So disabling and unkind.

So…where do I go from here?
How do I rebuild my whole?
When imbalance and weakness,
And heartache assault my very soul?

God answers these fears directly,
He dispatches people who care,
Angels to push and train and
Encourage me in my physical repair.

Time and patience and persistence,
Offer recovery I am sure,
And Faith that I will mend,
Determined to find my cure!

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