Sunday, February 28, 2021

Bill Jolley Member Story



The following is from the discontinued StrokeNet Newsletter site.
Bill Jolley is a stroke survivor and was a Newsletter contributor at that time. I have permission from Lin Wisman, then editor of the newsletter, to repost these wonderful articles on this blog. 

Coordinated by Deb Theriault
Member Story Coordinator

Bill, who stroked in 2003, has spend several years recreating his life. Read about it!
Member Story
by Bill Jolley

Dr. William (Mr. Bill) Jolley was a teacher by profession. Over his long career, he climbed the ladder of academia, assuming roles of increasing responsibility as a public school teacher, assistant principal, high school principal and, finally, director of a charter school program.

But, in 2003, Mr. Bill was involuntarily retired by a hemorrhagic stroke that hit the left side of his brain. With the help of his ex-wife, Gretchen, his family, friends and his beloved pet Chihuahua, Bill re-tooled his post-stroke world into a satisfying “life-part-2”.

Bill’s story begins in July, 2002. Back then, he was 44 years old and weighed 460 lbs., so he underwent gastric bypass surgery to kick-start a serious weight reduction program. One year later, Bill had additional surgery, to reduce a huge amount of loose skin around his midsection (a side-effect of weight loss). Three days after that, on July 24, 2003, Bill experienced his stroke.

Bill doesn’t remember the stroke or its aftermath. He was at Covenant Hospital, in Lubbock, Texas, for one week, then in rehab at Covenant Medical Center for three months. Afterwards, he was discharged to the care of Gretchen, who took him in for a year, until he was able to fend for himself. Bill maintains a close relationship with Gretchen since their divorce, saying she’s the best friend he’ll ever have. His family also encouraged him to get a companion pet, so Bill got a six-week-old Chihuahua puppy, named Sasha, who is still with him to this day. Bill’s support team was now complete.

Immediately post-stroke, Bill was paralyzed on the right, mentally incapacitated, and aphasic. But, once things settled and he entered rehabilitation, Bill mounted a massive recovery effort. Within three months, he could transfer himself from bed to the restroom without assistance, though he still used a wheelchair. This milestone was a real life changer, Bill’s greatest achievement since his stroke.

For two years, Bill continued out-patient therapy, three times a week, at Lubbock Neurological Center, then on-and-off treatment, for eight more years, at Lubbock’s South Plains Rehab center. Over that time, he explored many different remedies:

● Physical, speech, balance and life-skills therapies

● Botox® injections for spasticity on the right side

● Water therapy, which he still does, using special flotation devices

● Bioness® and similar devices, to stimulate function in his right arm and leg. Bill even worked as a “therapy model” for Bioness® Corp. and other companies, demonstrating therapeutic devices to patients and therapists

● Dragon® NaturallySpeaking speech software, which he still uses

● Computer games to boost analytical skills

A couple years post-stroke, Bill searched for things to make his life more useful. He decided being one-armed, with a paralyzed right hand, wasn’t going to slow him down.He took on every home repair project he could, using only his left side. Over time, he accumulated numerous custom-designed tools for a left-handed, one-armed individual. He ended up with so many he converted his garage into a workshop to store them all. Bill also owns a variety of landscaping equipment that he uses to maintain his lawn, as well as Gretchen’s and others’. He enjoys the yard work and feels it’s therapeutic.

Returning to work as a school administrator wasn’t an option, so Bill set his sights on other interests, and addressed goals that were put on the “backburner.” He completed his dissertation for a Doctorate of School Administration, which was postponed years before (though he knew he’d never use it), and rekindled a previous interest in photography. He especially enjoys capturing images of some very unusual subjects: tombstones.

Over the last few years, Bill’s been to approximately 100 small cemeteries throughout Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, and Texas, where he’s tried to take photos of every tombstone, in every cemetery he’s visited. His latest excursion was to Texas County, Oklahoma, where he and Gretchen explored nearly 25 different cemeteries. Bill even wrote two books about some of the graveyards he’s surveyed.

Two years ago, Bill also began attending an aphasia support group run by Texas Tech University. They helped him regain some mental capacity, which he feels has been the most-overlooked part of his recovery program. The staff also helped Bill to significantly reduce the effects of pseudo-bulbar affect (PBA), where he will laugh for no reason, or at inappropriate times.

Looking back, Bill feels that his stroke changed who he is in some interesting ways. He was always very left-brained and analytical, but post-stroke he was rendered almost totally right-brained. That should have been an asset when he decided to take up painting, but Bill only produced three or so works, which he gave away to family, before putting his artistic aspirations aside.

However, despite his brain’s left hemisphere being impaired, Bill can still play chess, even though he’s been reduced from “rated player” to “novice.” He plays nearly every day (via the internet) with Dr. John Gribbin, the noted physicist who lives in England. To Bill, winning or losing is no longer important, but rather, it’s the interaction and fellowship that matter.

Eleven years removed from his stroke, Bill feels he’s still carving out a “new normal”. But, he’d like to give hope to other stroke survivors as they navigate their own long, difficult journeys. He’s had more than a decade to think about it, and to consolidate his experience into the following advice:

● Decide what’s truly important in your life, and follow that with as much passion as you can muster

● If you set your mind to it, there is nothing you cannot do, even if you’ve had a massive stroke

● You may not be able to do some things you used to love doing, but take full advantage of what you still can do

● Don’t be concerned about things you can’t control

● Tough things are sometimes difficult, and occasionally counterproductive, never give up on the challenge

● Above all else, enjoy whatever you do
Copyright ©February 2015
The Stroke Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 492 Abingdon, Maryland 21009
All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Born Again - My Year is Going as Planned



The following is from the discontinued StrokeNet Newsletter site.
Moses Cherrington was a part of the Newsletter staff at that time. I have permission from Lin Wisman, then editor of the newsletter, to repost these wonderful articles on this blog. 
Born Again
By Moses Cherrington

Born Again for 2015

My year is going as planned.
What follows is the strategy I have decided to adopt in order to:-

A. Rise above my frailty, i.e. the frustrations of coming to grips with my difficulties, whereby the stroke has influenced my once independent life.

B. I am learning to walk in this risen state regardless of the obstacles hindering my pathway.

In order for the reader to understand my approach I have devised 4 areas, and by concentrating on these areas, may what I have decided nourish and build you at whatever station of life you are currently at..


Since being brought up in the Armed Forces as a musician, and having been taught that to enter the armed forces, one must attend a Basic Training. It is here that I learned to stand as a soldier, to march as a soldier, salute as a soldier, wear the uniform as a soldier. This is summarised as having "bearing" as a soldier.

I have discovered the handbook of my purpose and being. I have discovered the "Through the Bible - a study of the Scriptures" written by Harlin Roper. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God that the man/woman of God may be complete and perfectly fitted for Christian work" 2 Tim 3:16-17

I have found my frustrations getting less and less even though I still stub my foot: the computer still runs slower, and I do not have work. Before these frustrations would set me back as I dwelled upon them, but now I am becoming more and more bearable.

I am currently studying through the Book of Romans where I am being introduced to the Holy Spirit and His power within me.


I have not been able to work since I have had my stroke four years ago, due to the above frustrations which culminate in my stroke side influencing my daily life. When I get tired my mouth droops and my left side swells and fatigue, don't talk to me about fatigue.... I still get horribly tired which affects me for days after I have done an activity. For example, we have a neighbourly web site here where I can use this App to communicate to my neighbours to ask for a service or to borrow a piece of equipment.

I sought and was offered a water blaster. I learned how to use it. It is very addictive. I have cleaned the outside of the house, I have cleaned all the walls that encircle the house, and last but not least, I have cleaned our cement driveway. To do this I used an electric water blaster so I had to make sure we had the right length of hose at the right water pressure. I learned to be meticulous in where I placed the machine strategically. The hose would disconnect itself from the machine if I pulled too hard, yes I grew in the art of overcoming frustration through persevering.

As a result, my children bought a water blaster for me for Christmas, and I have just completed water blasting a community centre and kindergarten. That took four days at 2-3 hours per day.

Yes I was tired but I didn't have the usual symptoms of fatigue. Of course I rested periodically during the water blasting. My greatest joy was seeing what was dirty and grubby becoming pristine and clean. It is like the soul being "born again".


I have three children (12, 15, 17) at home and they have expressed a desire to grow into the Image of Christ. I have been undertaking a Bible Study at 6am each morning around the dining table with weekends off, whereby using the Bible Studies by Harlin Roper we are all learning how to imitate CHRIST by knowing Him. I have noticed especially with my youngest one that she is developing an air of nobility every day.
If I can quote from the preface in Jim Berg's book "Changed into His Image" from a letter he wrote to his daughter:

"I have told you before that your mother and I will probably not be able to pass on to you any kind of earthly inheritance. If we can pass on to you a passion for God, however, we will have given you something more valuable than silver, gold, or rubies and more satisfying than anything a mortal can experience...Our prayer is that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished as for a palace (Psalm 144:12) page ix
Love dad.

That has inspired me to be the best for our children


I have found that with my Armed Forces training, I would run the home like an army unit. I am learning that I must temper my commands with grace and goodness. The concept of a spiritual greenhouse has been communicated to me, so I now see my role and responsibility as a gardener.

I do not possess those skills, but as I daily dwell upon Scripture and apply its principles at home where areas of no compromise are developing. For example if a musician says they can play, but I hear no practising, I stipulate practise using little spiritual lessons to convey the art of perseverance. My desire is to develop that attribute within an individual.
I have also learned to listen to my wife. By listen, I mean to actually listen to what she has to say before I open my mouth. I have developed the "bit" technique; this is where I use my teeth to clench the tongue between the upper and lower teeth until my wife has shared with me. That is a discipline I am practising every day and she is far happier in sharing with me the issues of life.

In Summary,

Apart from being very, very hot here in Hamilton (averaging 80 degrees fahrenheit,) the beginning to the year has been one of discovery through being born again. Discarding the old and putting on the new. I am discovering the thrill of not being frustrated at those things that once frustrated me. In addition I am learning to hold my tongue and to listen. I am learning that my household is a spiritual garden and I must tend the garden daily.

I am learning to think through work activities that require forward planning, and when I use it I squeal with delight in having mastered a thinking process.
May you find some answers to some issues you may currently facing and remember there is someone worse off than we are.

I was invited to a birthday party to a lady who had a stroke 10 years ago. She has an electric wheelchair and was married 6 months ago. Her husband has had his legs amputated due to diabetes. It was good to see them to uplift them.
We are here to nurture and serve...

Copyright ©February 2015
The Stroke Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 492 Abingdon, Maryland 21009
All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Every Little Bit Helps



The following is from the discontinued StrokeNet Newsletter site.
Jim Sinclair was a part of the Newsletter staff at that time. I have permission from Lin Wisman, then editor of the newsletter, to repost these wonderful articles on this blog. 

The contents of this blog article do not constitute advice and should not be relied upon in making or refraining from making, any decision. All material contained in this article is provided without any or warranty of any kind. You use the material in this article at your own discretion. Please consult your doctor before making any decisions based on the content of this article.
Dancing with Stroke
By Jim Sinclair

Every Little Bit Helps

Last September during a presentation that I made to third year medical students one of the students asked if I could think of something a doctor had done that had a dramatic positive effect on my recovery or something that I wish they had not done as it was detrimental to my recovery. Having never previously given any thought to that I was hard pressed to immediately think of some examples.

My simple response at that time was that by far the most important positive action taken by any medical professional was the repetitive reassurances that a full recovery was possible made by my first neurologist during the first month following my strokes. I emphasized that having Dr Bill Martin ,from the very beginning, instill within me a confident belief that a full recovery was possible provided the motivation needed to allow me to do what needed to be done.

Having now had some time to contemplate that question I have come to realize that my response at that time was much too simplistic. I realized the young lady had asked the question in hopes of gaining a tool which she could use at some point in her career.

A far better response at the time would have been to take advantage of the opportunity to impress upon this group of students that recovery is not the result of one or two single actions and no one magic bullet; it is the cumulative result of a great many very small actions over a lengthy period of time with any single action not necessarily being of greater importance than any other single action. Since recovery following stroke is a process of small steps taken slowly, each and every action that contributes to a step forward is as important as each and every other action. Every little bit is significant.

At that time the only negative that came to mind occurred five years post stroke. I consulted with a neurologist because of some confusion and disorientation that I would occasionally experience. He suggested that what might work was to take respiridone, an antipsychotic medication that was at times effective for other off label uses. I agreed to try this medication.

Unfortunately at about that same time my antidepressant stopped being effective as did my sleep assist medication to which I had become addicted. Adding respiridone at this point only made me feel worse. I did however, caution the students that this had no long term detrimental effect on my recovery and was only a small bump in the road to recovery; and that they should never hesitate in being creative with what they believe might be of value in our recovery.

While I would like to think that my very successful recovery has been primarily the result of my own hard work supported by the assistance of many peers, I am fully aware that these were secondary to the ability of a great many health care professionals to each do their small part in providing what was necessary to have my progress inch forward slowly.

It was the aggregate of actions that was significant with each and every act contributing in their own way to my journey of recovery. I feel that the act of a Health Care Assistant rolling me over during the night when I was unable to do so was as necessary to my recovery as was the act of my neurologist and my cardiologist meeting together to determine that my strokes were enabled by a hole in my heart(a PFO).

Since every journey of recovery of every stroke survivor is as unique to each survivor as is their own personal makeup and their particular stroke circumstances the relative importance of the specific actions of health care professionals will vary greatly from survivor to survivor. I firmly believe that the goal of recovery is to attain a quality of life which is meaningful and satisfying for each survivor in whatever terms defined by each survivor.

I believe that everything we encounter along our journey of recovery is a contributing factor in that recovery. It is often difficult for us to understand how certain negative experiences can contribute to our recovery. We must remain confident that even every adversity has its purpose and maintain our faith that all we encounter helps us move towards that meaningful quality of life we seek. Every little bit helps.

Copyright ©February 2015
The Stroke Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 492 Abingdon, Maryland 21009
All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Happy Heart Month


The following is from the discontinued StrokeNet Newsletter site.
Claudia R. Warner was a part of the Newsletter staff at that time. I have permission from Lin Wisman, then editor of the newsletter, to repost these wonderful articles on this blog. 
The Juggling Caregiver
By Claudia R Warner

Happy Heart Month

Is is SPRING, yet? It could happen—some February months have been warm. So here’s hoping!

January was cold, cold, cold. We had terrific wind chills that lasted for days. I’m a firm believer in getting outdoors every day, but that month tested my determination. Getting outdoors makes me feel good—even on cloudy days.

Our dog, Chloe loves to be outdoors. I got her a new coat which, after I resewed part of it seems to be warm for her. She, like me, gets discontented and antsy if she doesn’t get out for a walk, run, or playtime every day Wes doesn’t need a grouchy wife, much less an unhappy dog, so out we went in wind chills that were in the minus readings of teens and twenties. We spent 15 minutes at a time and were on the move constantly. Needless to say, we both were ready to come inside after that short time. Several outings like this per day helped a lot and ensured harmony in the household.

February 14 is Valentine’s Day. It is a somewhat difficult time for many caregivers. Two out of three caregivers are female and this holiday is really geared toward women. We are used to getting flowers, gifts, dinner out, chocolate, etc. from our significant other on this day. Now that has changed for us. So, it is payback time! Now it is our turn to pamper our partners.

How about flowers for the dining area? It doesn’t have to be a large bouquet—a single red rose is a nice touch. Would your partner enjoy an outing? Movies are fun, as is a lunch outing. We enjoy going to coffee shops so we’ll do that and have a special dessert with the coffee. Or you could fix a favorite meal. Movie night is always a winner. Pop some popcorn and watch his favorite movies. They can be rented or borrowed from your public library. You could go shopping. Wes loves going to bookstores, getting a latte and browsing magazines. When the latte is finished, it is time to select the magazines he wants and then we head to one of the book sections. Usually he finds items to purchase, but if not, the browsing and coffee are fun.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be expensive—it is the thoughtfulness you give that makes it a special day. A heart-shaped cake decorated with heart candies is an easy thing to do. Or use M&Ms to spell a message. A heart-shaped balloon will last several days and is a great way to brighten a room. Invite a couple of your partner’s friends to come for a visit. You could even share that cake with them!

Now, as a caregiver, you must think of something for you. What would you enjoy “gifting” yourself? A book? Chocolates? Time to yourself—with NO interruptions? A walk? Something good to eat? I’m thinking of a hot fudge sundae with pecans. YUM. You know what you want/need so just do it. It will make you feel good and you deserve it!
All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.
~Charles M. Schulz
Copyright @February 2015
The Stroke Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 492 Abingdon, Maryland 21009
All rights reserved.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Are You Discouraged and Concerned for the Future



Street & Steeple for January 29, 2021

By Phil Bell, retired, pastor, University Baptist Church

“God Is Help In Times Of Trouble”


Are you discouraged and concerned for the future at how divided our nation has become, scared of contracting the coronavirus, or depressed about some personal situation in which you find yourself?

You might even have been praying about it. Too often we pray to God, telling Him what to do and how to do it! We think our nation is broken and needs healing! We may even be praying for it, telling God just how it needs to be done. 

We may well be worried that, despite our precautions, Covid 19 will find us. How many times have you asked God to make someone’s chemotherapy effective to heal him or her of cancer? It is certainly proper to ask God for healing. He is the great physician, to be sure, but He just may surprise you how He does it! 

One of my favorite contemporary Christian songs is Scott Krippayne’s “God Has A Wild Imagination.” The lyrics include “As you approach a deep abyss I can’t tell you the outcome, but I promise you this, God has a wild imagination at work in ordinary lives. Come and see. Come and be surprised!” 

Is this song scriptural? Yes, I believe it is. Consider Exodus 15:11, written by Moses, who knew God, arguably, better than any other mortal. We’re told that he and God sat and talked face to face. In this Genesis Moses writes, who is like You among the gods, O Lord? Who is likeYou, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders?” “working wonders” is the same as “has a wild imagination.” 

Now I’d like to give you two examples of what I’m talking about. My pastor’sgrandson, at about the age of six months, in a scheduled checkup by his pediatrician, it was noted that his head was larger than it should have been in comparison with the rest of his body. The child’sparents and grandparents were greatly concerned, naturally! The doctor ordered a sonogram of the boy’s head. The results did nothing to calm anyone’s anxiety. They were told that he had a build up of fluid in his brain that might require his skull being sawed into in order to install a shunt for draining the fluid. All the boy’s family prayed for him, as did our entire church, and, literally, every pastor in MACMA ( Macomb Area Ministerial Association ). 

An appointment with a neurological surgeon was scheduled. When the surgeon read the sonogram he told them he disagreed with the diagnosis. “Yes,” he said, “there is an accumulation of fluid, however, it is not in the brain, but rather between the brain and the
skull, does not pose a health risk, and most certainly doesn’t call for surgery! 

He did have another sonogram performed which confirmed his opinion. I’m quite sure that not any one of us praying had prayed for that exact outcome, a missed diagnosis, but, you see, God has a wild imagination! 

My other example involves my having a massive stroke at the age of sixty while serving as pastor of University Baptist Church. As part of my treatment a stay in Heartland Healthcare was necessary. My wife, Nancy, and I sat in my room, one day, discussing our financial situation. She, retired, had a very nice monthly payment from TRS, I received a much smaller payment from a retirement annuity from my work before being called into the ministry in addition to a couple other sources of income, but my compensation from University Baptist, easily, made up the largest share of our income. Of course that would end until I was able to return as their pastor, if ever! We thought we could get along for awhile especially since money would be saved by my not eating at home for quite awhile, in fact, not eating anywhere, until my speech therapist had restored my ability to swallow, but money would be tight. Nancy had made application for me to receive social security disability payments which had been approved but not yet started. 

Out of the blue, the church deacon chair walked into my room. He was there to tell us that the church had voted, in a specially called business meeting, to continue paying me my salary until the disability payments began, considering me on medical leave. 

Before becoming the pastor, I had chaired the committee which rewrote our Constitution and Bylaws, so, I knew that nowhere in the bylaws did the term, “medical leave “ appear! Those wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ had created the term just for my situation! You may think that rather fantastic, but, you see, God has a wild imagination! 

Of course, there are any number of ways God could have taken care of both situations. That’s precisely my point, God delights in doing wonders for our good and surprising us in the process! How do I know that? Psalm 46 tells me so! “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and the mountains slip into the heart of the sea.” I’m guessing, whatever your problem, it is no worse than that, should it happen. 

The verse simply means that God is interested in our problems and not one of them is too big for him, nor reason for us to fear! If you’re upset and discouraged about any matter, pray about it and don’t be too surprised how it is resolved, because God does indeed have a wild imagination! We, who are Jesus followers should be the most positive, hopeful people from the Pacific to the Atlantic and from Canada to the Rio Grande! 

I say that because Jesus did! In Luke 18:1 Jesus is preaching to the people. Luke records, “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not lose heart.” O.K. He didn’t mention the Atlantic, Pacific, Canada, nor Rio Grande, but cut me some slack ,He might well have mentioned the Red Sea, Mediterranean, Samaria, and the Jordan, but Luke and the Holy Spirit felt no need to include it.

Again I say, be praying, encouraged and anticipate surprises! God is our help in any kind of trouble! 

- Phil Bell, retired pastor, University Baptist Church