12 Days of Tap 2019: Day 11
Goal Setting and Realization
– Ben Gill –
On July 28th 2017 I had a TIA at work. My coworkers called 911 and I was taken to REX hospital but my symptoms were no longer present. I was a very healthy, active and fit 56 year old man who had no known risk factors or family history of any serious condition. Even though my coworkers reported all of the FAST stroke warning symptoms, my apparent health and fitness level became my demise and the hospital sent me home. I had a full ischemic stroke that evening while alone at home. Somehow, I was able to call my wife who was in Ohio. She called 911 and was able to stay on the phone with me while help came. Without knowing the time of the stroke I was not eligible for the TPA. Knowing that the stroke could have been prevented or even mitigated has been very painful so we share this story with as many people as we can. Never dismiss the warning signs and demand additional tests if there is even the slightest concern.
The stroke affected a significant part of my brain. I was unable to swallow, speak or move my right side. Even my voice was gone. I was transferred to the Wake Med inpatient rehab program where I stayed for seven weeks. The community of providers at Wake Med was wonderful. The therapists and technicians inspired me to never give up, to hope and to never set limits to my recovery. Michelle, the speech therapist, helped me believe in myself and encouraged me to pursue my goal of going back to work. She introduced me to TAP and after being released from the hospital I became part of the TAP family.
TAP has played an import role in my path to recovery. The back to work group has provided support and inspiration and I am grateful to every single of its members. I’m in debt to Tisha and Maura for their constant encouragement and engagement.
I am also fortunate to have a supportive family, a dedicated and amazing wife who has been a constant advocate for me, an employer who has accommodated to my needs, not to mention access to great therapists from Steps for Recovery (Abbi-Speech, Julia-OT and Brynn-PT) for almost a year and a half.
Today, I have achieved several of my goals set back during my stay at Wake Med. I have begun to run again, I am playing my guitar and I singing (not near as good as I used to but good enough to be able to enjoy it again). I am also able to swim, work out in the gym and have gradually increased my hours at work for the last year. On January 2020, I will go back to work full time. My right arm has been very slow in responding and my speech has a way to go, but neither one of those hurdles has kept me from moving forward. My wife and I love to travel and last September we achieved one of our goals and made it back to the highlands in Scotland and for Christmas this year we will join our daughter in Spain. This has been a really hard journey, but with the support of so many incredible people around me, I see no limits to my future.
From the TAP Home Office:
I was so thrilled to have received this nomination from Tisha, our Group Leader for the Back to Work Group! She emailed me right away and said “We should ask Ben! He has worked hard and focused on his goals…and will always say “not yet” instead of “I can’t.” It’s so true. Ben and his wife, Carolina, were, from day one at TAP, looking for the positive. They were determined to look at this stroke and say, “Not today, stroke…not today!”
Ben modifies as he needs to for activities he enjoys and that provide him with purpose…this is the definition of the Life Participation Approach. And stay tuned, as we plan to “TAP” into (all pun intended) Ben’s musician skills and passion in 2020!