Joe survived a stroke in 2016. Since then, he has found a new perspective on life and made it his purpose to support others.
My name is Joe and in 2016, at 39 years old, I suffered a high blood pressure induced haemorrhagic stroke. My blood pressure was so high, it caused a vessel in my brain to burst. I remember the exact moment I had the stroke. I was on my way to watch my partner, Felice, perform like I have so many times before. I had a migraine leading up to the show. That wasn’t uncommon. I’ve suffered from terrible migraines most of my adult life. There didn’t seem to be anything different or special about this one until it happened – I had a stroke.
As a child, I once put a key in a wall socket and it sent a shock from my hand all the way through my arm up to my shoulder. That’s exactly what I felt in every cell of my body when the vessel burst in my brain. My legs turned to jelly. I felt like I was learning to walk again like a baby deer. I tried to go about things as if I felt normal. I got through the show and even had a beer. But from the moment we left the venue, I have zero recollection of the next month.
I don’t even remember waking up. I’ve only heard stories of how difficult and stubborn I was while my family tried to get me to the hospital. The next memory I have is being confused and just exhausted while going through rehab therapy. I was exhausted to the point of just wanting to sleep every minute of the day. I was in a bed for almost a full month in the hospital which caused my body to majorly deteriorate physically. The haemorrhage in my brain led to massive memory issues, but thankfully the brain is resilient and my memory continues to improve. Even now, I still find myself improving cognitively. I still experience tremors in my right hand, but I feel very lucky that my deficits are not more severe.
So here I am now, changed forever by this whole experience of surviving a stroke. Changed for the better. Now, my mission in life is to give back to the world by helping other stroke and brain injury survivors find support, connection, and understanding throughout their recovery. My podcast and my blog are the platforms I use to support my survivor community through telling stories, laughter, my love of nerd culture and directly connecting with survivors one-on-one. Helping others has given me a new lease on life and I am so grateful for all of my experiences even my stroke because it led me onto this new path.
I’m ready to live. I don’t want to just survive, I want to thrive. I can honestly say that I never truly lived before my stroke. I survived. I was satisfied with just making it to the next day. That wasn’t truly living. Now instead of focusing on the negative, I have a new perspective on life overall – life is beautiful. My message to anyone reading this is that every single one of us living on Earth is here for a reason. We don’t always know what that reason is, but I know this – we didn’t make it here to stress out and be stuck in one place, focusing on things we can’t control. I believe we are here to enjoy life and possibly help others along our way. We made it. We are here. We are survivors. It is now time to live!