I had worked for over 12 years at a major aerospace manufacturing plant.

Then, while on a business trip in Toulouse, France, I had a brain stem stroke.  My stroke caused quadriplegia and numerous other serious disabilities.  Luckily, my stroke did not damage my cognitive skills.  I recovered enough movement that I can type by using an infrared head pointer and on-screen keyboard.

I’m able to move one finger, which I use to click the mouse.  My wife places my hand on the mouse and positions my click finger over the left clicking button.  I’m also able to move my head in all directions.  I purchased an infrared head pointer so I could make the cursor move anywhere on the computer screen.  I needed a way to type so I downloaded an on-screen keyboard.  The on-screen keyboard lets me type anything I want.  I move my head and my infrared head pointer acts like a mouse and moves the cursor to that spot on the computer.  I move the cursor to a letter on the on-screen keyboard and click.  When I click on a letter a list of words beginning with that letter pops up.  The more letters I type the list of words becomes more refined.  This is called Word Prediction.  I move the cursor to the word I want and click.  I can sometimes type out a 10 letter word by just typing the first three letters.  I click on my word from a list and then the on-screen keyboard types it out.

I love to write, which, unfortunately, is not often enough.

My wife and I started dating in the 10th grade of high school.  Three years later, after we graduated, we were married.  I was married at 19 in 1977.  She came with me to Fort Riley, Kansas where I spent four years in the Army.  We have been together now for over 40 years.  When I had my stroke, besides being my wife, she also became my full-time caregiver.

We have two beautiful daughters, Traci and Erin.  They were only 9 and 12 when I had my stroke.  They both quickly accepted my new condition and even learned to help their mother with minor caregiver chores.  Now, they are married.  I have two great son-in-laws, plus three precious grandchildren.  Traci is married to Pete.  They have one daughter, Livi and one son, Petey.  Erin is married to Ryan.  They have one son, Ryder.

Even though my stroke caused loss of speech, Melissa, the girls and I have learned how to communicate with each other.  After my stroke, I had to retrain myself how to form letters and to pronounce words.  I could not vocalize but I relearned how to move my lips, my tongue and how to make my facial muscles move so I could form words.  This led to me being able to whisper words or mouth out phrases and full sentences.  I practiced and practiced!

Eventually, mouthing out words became our primary means of communication The entire time that I was relearning how to properly pronounce words, Melissa and our kids were teaching themselves how to read my lips.  We have become quite good at communicating this way.

None of this would have been possible without God leading the way and showing me what to do; see which scripture verses have helped me on this long journey. I love the Lord so much!  He drastically changed my life and made something positive happen.  So, in order to do something positive with myself I decided to dedicate the rest of my life to helping other stroke survivors. I am very driven about assisting them to find on-line stroke support and information. I now know that this has always been God’s plan for me.


3 Responses

  1. Hi, Steve! You probably don’t remember me, but Missy and I have known each other for years! (I remember you best from high school days–long hair. . . dating Missy! Oh well–I’m old. .. .) My mom goes to Union Chapel, as did I when I was in high school and college. You and Missy have amazed me ever since your stroke. You both are an inspiration to the rest of us! I read your account of the stroke, and it is truly a nightmare. I teach in a middle school, and my classroom is across the hall from the health classroom. I’ll probably mention your story to that teacher, and also your advice about teaching kids about stroke in the middle school. I’ll see what, if anything, they do teach about it. Unfortunately, another cause of stroke is drug abuse. We’ve had too much experience with that in our family, as our son (age 24) is a heroin addict. He’s a RECOVERING addict, which is wonderful, but heroin addiction is lifelong–we just pray daily that he will continue to fight the addiction.

    Also, sadly, in our school we’re coming face-to-face with drug use. We’ve had 5 students arrested AT SCHOOL this year for drug transactions and possession–3 dealers and 2 possession. 2 of the 3 dealers were 7th graders! We also had 2 students arrested for armed robbery (not at school), for either drugs or money for drugs. There are several more students I know are drug users from their behavior, and that was confirmed by the guidance counselor. We are surrounded by risky behavior–a good deal of it much more serious than the bad habits of being a couch potato. Perhaps the stroke information might help be a deterrent to the drug idea–it would be worth that, too!

    Tell Missy hello–and I hope all is well with your family.

    Debbie Tull Paulsgrove


    • I just want to say what an inspiration you are! Like you I, too, did not lose my cognitive skills, but unlike you I have been lucky in that I can do many things. Thank you for reinforcing my knowledge that I am very lucky! God Bless You!


  2. Steve,

    What a great website. You have been doing wonderful things. I’m so proud of you.
    Donna Welch


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