Count your blessings!

Have you ever looked back, since the time of your stroke and tried to count your blessings?  I tried to count every blessing and there have been so many I was truly amazed.  I know I could not remember every one.  REALLY, my life has been blessed in so many different ways.  I will try to recount some of them and let you decide.  Okay? 

My first blessing actually happened about a year before my stroke.  We own a Cape Cod style home and we were debating whether to move and buy a bigger home or to just build an addition on.  We love our wooded lot with the stream in the back, our neighbors are fantastic and our location is perfect so we decided to stay and add an additional room.  Well, boy did that turn out to be a blessing in disguise.  I had my stroke a year later and you would not believe how much that room came in handy!  We have a bedroom and a bathroom on the first floor.  Now, with the family room we had just built I would have a room to hang out in all day.  We put my computer in this room so between this and the television set I was in good shape; everything that I needed was on the first floor. 

I had my stroke in Toulouse, France while on a business trip.  Several weeks before I left, I received an insurance package at work.  One of my options was to select a long-term disability plan.  It was very inexpensive so my wife and I decided to get the 60% plan for $16 per month.   Well, two months later I had my stroke and became permanently disabled.  I do not know what we would have done if we had not chosen that long-term disability insurance.  We would receive 60% of my salary, non-taxable!  We could not believe it.  There was another blessing! 

The next of my REALLY big blessings happened when I had my stroke.  Nobody would have ever realized how unique it was to have a brainstem stroke instead of an ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke.  My brainstem stroke was massive and devastated me and my family.  Brainstem stroke could not cause more overall destruction to the human body.  The key here is that it may have caused havoc on my body but cognitively I was 100%.  Sure my emotions were off balance, at first, but my intelligence was unharmed. 

At first, we did not know what hit us!  Like I said, my family was totally devastated.  What emerged from me cannot be explained by anything except a major blessing.  Let me explain further and you will understand. 

I was discharged from the Army in 1980.  I only went in the service for the GI Bill.  I made the cutoff date for the old benefits package by TWO weeks!  That meant that the federal government would pay for me to go to college for 10 years.  Why this is significant is because I received a BS degree in business and it took me all of 10 years to finish school.  I graduated two years before my stroke.  Had I not had an education in business and not understood the mechanics of the business environment I could have never started my non-profit organization.  I needed so much of a business understanding to make my non-profit flourish.  This was another blessing in disguise; EVERYTHING was starting to add up! 

I am almost finished, two more blessing before I tell you about my coup de grace blessing.  All of my physical abilities were totally blown out.  I could extend both of my arms and legs but there is nothing functional about that, although, it did help me to assist with transferring, another blessing.  The real blessing was that I could move my head side to side and up and down.  My head control was fantastic!  This would greatly lend itself to my next blessing. 

About one month after my stroke, both of my hands swelled up.  They must have been at least double of their normal size.  Apparently, I was sleeping with my hands on the bed by my sides.  My doctor said that this was causing my hands to swell with fluid.  He suggested placing pillows under them to keep them elevated.  Sure enough, about three weeks later my hands were back to normal size.  The odd thing was is that the fingers on my right hand were permanently bent at a 45 degree angle at the middle joint.  My little and ring fingers were kind of limp but my middle and index fingers were rigidly bent. 

You are probably wondering why this would be a blessing?  Well, let me explain the coup de grace blessing, which will hopefully tie all of this together for you.  On a whim, my wife moved my computer from my office downstairs to our new family room upstairs shortly before I was discharged from the hospital.  I could not move ANYTHING except my head until four days before I was discharged.  My head was still jerky and my arm had only slight movement.  This all changed after I came home.  I do not remember my fingers being able to move at all yet.  Within three months I was sitting in front of the computer.  My head moved wherever I wanted and the middle finger on my right hand could make a clicking motion. 

I knew exactly what to do because my cognitive skills worked perfectly.  I purchased an infrared headpointer and could move the cursor anywhere on the screen.  I tried several on-screen keyboards and then found the best one out there.  I could now type anything I wanted.   I use my right hand to click the mouse.  Every other finger is way too weak to click the mouse except my middle finger that had swelled and then became bent and very rigid. 

I was now ready for action.  Nothing could stop me from carrying on.  I feel extremely fortunate that I have obviously been so blessed!  What is wild is that the blessings keep coming.  The visions that I receive when I want to do something would probably be scoffed at if I tried to explain them.  Believe what you want, though, the blessings, visions and inspirations are VERY real.  My accomplishments cannot be challenged.  I am not bragging about myself.  Seriously, I do not feel ownership for anything that I have done.  The real credit goes to my close relationship with God.  On the computer I am not disabled.  Wait; let me count my blessings, first! 

I purposely did not write about all of my blessings.  There are way too many to count.  All I can say is that I could not have done anything unless I had a true relationship with Jesus Christ.  He is the reason for me creating my website and forming my non-profit organization.  I am truly blessed more than you will ever know! 


16 Responses

  1. Hi Steve,

    This is very insightful and mind opening story.

    I think that after reading this article, the most of as will start to count own blessing.

    Many people doing that more often and probably some of the people very rare count own blessing and some of people are not aware of own blessing before they lose that for what are they blessed.

    I think if we more often remind ourselves of our blessing we will be much stronger and happier and this world will be much better place.



  2. Hi Honey,
    I caught up on your blogging this morning and you are doing a great job! You did forgot to include me in your “blessings” article though but I know I am at the top of your list! ; ) We have both been truly blessed! Love you…Miss


  3. Looks great! A truly inspiring story! It is amazing how you are able to reach out to so many people!


  4. Hon, my family has been my biggest blessing, especially you! You guys have been through thick and thin with me. You KNOW what we have been through. Its been an awesome trip!


  5. Steve you are one of my blessings! I praise God for you and for the numerous joys you have shared with so many! Your site is full of information (I didn’t know about some of those symptoms of stroke- thankyou!)and testimony to a God who loves us! Keep up the great work!


  6. WOw, what a great story to share. You have truly been blessed and I know God has a plan for you, and for all of us. God does provide when he feels it is warranted and needed. You have done wonderful things since your stroke and it is a blessing that your cognitive skills are so sharp. Keep up the good work Steve!!


  7. Steve, you have accomplished so much since your stroke and to praise and thank the Lord for all things is certainly pleasing him. That is what is most important in our lives. Thank you for your inspiration and never give up, always trusting in God.


  8. Steve,

    I like the picture at the bottom part of the blog – handsome devil!

    Your wife is one of my all-time faith heros and I love you and your family. To say that you all have been an inspiration to me is just a scratch on the surface.

    I pray for you almost every day and am very proud of you.


  9. Steve,
    You are truly an inspriration to me. Your attitude is amazing. The Lord is the biggest blessing in my life too. Thanks for reminding me to count my blessings and not focus on what I can no longer do but use what I can do to bless others. I sent your stroke warnings to everyone I know to get the word out. Thanks for your efforts, courage and strength.
    Stroke survivor.


  10. Gods hand with yours truely is a blessing.I appreciate the hope you have given us all.Thank You and Praise God


  11. Tracy, too many stroke survivors do not realize that they should make the best of what they can still do AFTER their stroke. If they only would, count their blessings, things could be so much better for them. 🙂


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