Anthony Schember, age 64, had his first stroke at age 50 and his second at age 63. Both were hypertensive hemorrhagic strokes.
Anthony’s first stroke resulted in some left-side paralysis, particularly affecting his fine motor skills. About one month after discharge from the hospital, Anthony came to his first stroke survivor support group at Stroke Support Association. He said to himself, as he embarked on a long recovery, “Well, I might as well try this.” He became a regular member after that.
A flight attendant, Anthony had to stop working for 18 months as he underwent speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. At this time, he dove into one of his favorite hobbies – quilting – which ended up improving his fine motor skills over time.
When Anthony went back to work, he had no choice but to go full-time, but he monitored himself closely and tried to avoid overtime hours.
By and large, life returned to normal until about a year ago, when Anthony suffered a second stroke. Thirteen years separated his first and second strokes, so there was some feeling of “not this again.” This time, the stroke affected his eyesight and balance. He focused on recovery with occupational therapy, physical therapy, and returning to our support groups. “When I returned, I felt right back at home,” Anthony said.
When asked what he, looking back, likes most about our support groups, Anthony said, “The assistance that we give one another inspired me that I could find my way back into society.”
Anthony is working toward returning to his job again, and as such is an example that stroke does not necessarily have to derail a career.
Mary Buck, a beloved former support group facilitator, asked Anthony some time after his first stroke, “Have you noticed any gifts that you’ve received from having a stroke?” Anthony couldn’t reply, but Mary would occasionally ask him the question again. Finally he agreed that he had found more patience. “I’m much easier about everything,” he says now.
–Betsy Hardiman, Executive Director
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