January 6 was the fourth anniversary of my stroke.
That day in 2019 started like any other. I was up at 5 a.m., put on my Hoka running shoes and pounded out a relaxed 5k along the Willamette River. I had just turned 68 years old, and I was trim and healthy.
Little did I know that would be the last time I would ever go for a run. I suffered a hemorrhagic, bleeding stroke several hours later.
Without warning, I found myself on the floor with my left side completely paralyzed. I was just able to inch down my hallway to my front door, reach up to open it, and yell into the corridor for help.
Downs and ups
While the past few years have had ups and downs, one fact stands out: Up to 65% of those who suffer this type of stroke die within a year, with 50% dying within the first two days. At six months, only 20% are expected to be independent.
Even during my darkest times — and there have been no shortage of those — I give thanks that I survived, and my cognitive senses were not impaired.
I have, however, spent months in a variety of rehab centers, attended to by occupational and physical therapists. I have been fortunate to receive care from many wonderful doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals.
Most of my left-side paralysis has been overcome; I still have weakness in my left leg that keeps me from driving a manual-transmission car because I cannot safely operate the clutch. But I continue my rehab every day and hope for progress.
Age has also thrown a variety of curveballs my way, including an operation to remove a cyst from my spine, blood clots and the need to implant a pacemaker and stents.
Getting old is not for sissies.
Stroke of luck
I wish I had not had a stroke, of course, but it has caused me to realize how many pieces of our lives are out of our control. It never occurred to me that my body might suddenly go from friend to foe.
As I reflect on the past four years, I am overcome with respect for the fragility of life. If I had not been able to crawl to my door, I would have died. I would never again have seen my children, Alexandra and Bradley.
I am now more deeply appreciative of the time I spend with my kids. I’m still here to guide, nourish and support them. Alexandra continues to flourish in her position as Brand Marketing Specialist for Western Star, a truck manufacturer owned by Daimler Truck North America. Bradley has his feet fully planted as he enjoys being a sophomore at Lincoln High School, with college just two years away.
This, as well as the kinship of my friends and the SCM gang, continues to give me a full and rich life.
I’m better at communicating and more thoughtful of how I manage my business. Under the leadership of Editor-In-Chief Jeff Sabatini, SCM is functioning with the best and most talented team it has ever had. It’s a joy to produce each issue.
While long-established magazines continue to cease publication, SCM members and advertisers have never been more engaged. Sports Car Market is one of the few car magazines left on airport and bookstore newsstands.
We are appreciative of your ongoing renewals and support over the past 35 years.
My love of automobiles has not waned. I have pivoted to teaching myself about two-pedal sports cars. I have enjoyed and learned something new from each car.
A highlight of the past few years has been the relationship I have developed with the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival and its beneficiaries, the Neuroscience Center at CHI Memorial and NeuroScience Innovation Foundation. I have been their guest each year, where I have talked about my experience as a stroke survivor. Dr. Thomas Devlin, director of the CHI Memorial Stroke and Neuroscience Center, has taken a particular interest in my recovery and been a source of information and ongoing positive reinforcement
We still have miles to go. I’ll be on the SCM 1000 in June, driving a classic German car. I look forward to enjoying the majesty of the geography in eastern Washington and having provocative and entertaining conversations about the market with you each night.
The past four years have been the toughest of my life. But here I am, at the keyboard, still pursuing my life’s work. I will never stop my rehab, and never stop sharing my thoughts with all of you.
Join me in agreeing that we will not take one moment of life for granted. We need to pull hard with every oar stroke and propel ourselves into the great and unknown future that reveals itself around every bend in the river.
Thanks for accompanying me on this journey. ♦
Just catching up on my SCM. Thank your for this heartfelt column. It is beautifully written.