My brilliant and inspirational client Gene Sanders, CEO for a major trade association, often sends candid and humorous updates to his network. Unsolicited and to my great appreciation, he’s offered this one heartfelt and profound story as a guest blog post.
Stroke and Turn
I have many stories to tell, but the one I am about to divulge is very personal, and I thought those who take the time to read this story might just benefit in some way or find a message within.
Having a calm exterior (I’ve had mirrors placed against my nose to see if I was still breathing) has been beneficial to me professionally as well as personally. Any stressors in my life, however, have manifested themselves in other ways, conspiring to almost kill me!
Like many of you, I travel considerably for my job, which takes me out of town and away from my family 100+ days per year. The stress of the flights, the work, and simply a change in routine is difficult enough (anyone who tells you differently is lying to you), but that’s just the beginning. If you have other factors that contribute to your pressures, then you have the ingredients for a human bomb to erupt. One can certainly watch what one eats and drinks during these periods of change to your routine, but we often don’t. The waistline increases, and with added weight, your body starts storing fats and other toxins. You tire more easily, etc. (scientifically, this is what is known as “blobism”) and quite frankly, many of us let ourselves “go to hell.”
On a business trip to Tokyo with my good friend, who happens to be our CEO, I awoke the day after arriving with a numb sensation that ran from my scalp to my toes, affecting my entire body in between. I had no idea what caused this sensation. Was my numbness a neuropathy that was due to the flight? I wasn’t sure. What I do know is that evening we held a reception for at least 80 Japanese CEO’s. This was a very slow and deliberate event, which included all of the pomp and circumstance that you’d expect on a stage such as this (I honestly thought I’d pass out right then and there). Bottom-line, I’d had a stroke.
So what was I doing about my condition you ask? I might have done something had I known the extent of my condition. Instead, I went to dinner, had a few drinks, smoked a cigar, listened to colleagues tell me I looked a little “off” (Of course, I was used to hearing that!).
The next day I did call my wife and asked her if she’d be kind enough to call my doctor for me, as I knew something was going on, but I just wasn’t convinced that my ordeal was extreme.
After 4 days and an absolute miserable 20 plus hour flight home, I went to see my doctor, who took one look at me, at my vitals, and personally walked me down to the emergency room! My blood pressure was way up, my sugar levels exceeded 350, my AC1 was 12, and frankly, I was ready to explode from within.
Sure enough, an MRI revealed that I did indeed suffer a stroke, and that my numbness was due to the dead brain cells being unable to send signals to the right side of my body. As a matter of fact, the tests indicated that it wasn’t even my first stroke (I must have suffered one earlier that summer when I went to the emergency room due to vertigo symptoms, whereas was told I needed to clean my ears)!
The hardest part of my stroke was adjusting to the lack of mobility and inability to use my fingers, arms, and my right foot. (I volunteer my time coaching basketball and you can only imagine how bad it was for me to try and demonstrate…well anything!) My sensation is that of waking up after falling asleep on your arm and leg and they are “asleep.” Pins and needles, my whole right side, 24/7.
Also during this time, my mom, who I was caring for, passed away during a routine surgery. It just kept piling up. I fell down a set of steps, I fell into my car, thus, closing my door and breaking my fingers, and I fell walking with my wife, which resulted in two injured shoulders. I was depressed, my back hurt, I couldn’t walk without pain, I couldn’t type, and I just felt that I would never get any better. To top that off, I run one of the largest expositions in the world, and my event was rapidly approaching. I only spent two days in the hospital and was back at my desk (what an idiot) the following Monday morning!
I felt as if I was at the total mercy of the medical community and quite frankly, there just weren’t a lot of answers!
My friend and colleague who I mentioned earlier told me about Laura Palmer and Bridgenosis. I skeptically went to see Laura one Friday afternoon prior to a dinner engagement with friends and family. After a little more than an hour, Laura proclaimed “I’ve got you figured out!” She taught me a few simple techniques. I then relaxed and listened to her tell me how to help myself. 41 minutes later (I felt I was asleep after 5 seconds, but she calls this the state of hypnosis), and I felt 100% better. I left Laura’s office, and went to our engagement, where my friends and family noticed my change, which was immediate.
Since my visit with Laura almost a year ago, I’ve turned my life around, and I am now in control of my destiny. I am eating better, I am exercising, and I’ve lost almost 40 pounds since that day last August. I now trust my Doctors advice, listen and have seen great results with my blood work, and general health. Don’t get me wrong, I still have the numbness, and I can’t feel my feet or hands, but it is no longer keeping me from doing the things I love. Coaching, playing basketball (I’m almost 56 years old), swimming laps, even my golf game has gotten better.
I could have stopped there, but Laura has also helped me with time management issues I’ve had since my stroke, and overall disposition. If you are an executive with high-level organizational stressors or if you have eating issues, job stressors, or medical problems as I’ve had, I urge you to open your mind, and turn your life around, with, of course, a little help from Bridgenosis.