Why are you still on Strokenet my friends ask me. Why are you still talking about stroke nearly eight years after Ray died? Why haven't you moved on with your life? Well I have moved on but moving on does not mean you have to move away from those things that have been valuable to you in the past. . And to me Strokenet has been of huge value in my life and the lives of Ray and my family. Discovering Strokenet made a big difference to the way I lived my life, dealt with Ray's strokes and came out the other side as a whole and wholly changed person. Without Strokenet I am not sure I would be here at all.
As always I am grateful for this site which I found when Ray's health problems were starting to overwhelm me and it helped me in caring for him as stroke after stroke happened. It was five years on in my care for him when I found this site. The women and men I met on here really gave me the strength to go on. All the stroke survivors seemed so brave despite the mighty blows that were struck against them and the stroke caregivers showed such courage in the face of ever changing circumstances that somehow they gave me the courage to go on. That gave me the will to do what I had to do and somehow, despite the great changes in our lives, to carry on.
What a wonderful example they were to me and I am really thankful to all I met here. A lot are gone from this site now as regular contributors but a few are still friends on my Facebook page so our relationship continues. We helped each other to understand what we're going through in our seperate and sometimes quite different lives. Through our posts on the forums we learned so many different aspects of coping with strokes. At first I was timid about joining chat but when I did I was amazed by what I learned from that. We were all so different but also had so much in common. Principally the changes that stroke bring into the lives of all the family members and how to cope with that without going mad.
Among other things I learned from my early days in chat was to listen to people and try to understand where they were coming from. Among other things being with the survivors gave me a look into Ray's way of seeing life, something he was unable to articulate. I think the survivors taught the caregivers to slow down on demanding progress and their need for things to return to normal and the caregivers taught the survivors to understand the fatigue that comes with doing so many different jobs we were unaccustomed to doing and the strain that brings. Maybe that gave us the strength to go on. I know for me taking over the outside jobs on top of all the nursing and house wifely tasks was really wearing me down back then.
My first chat hosting started about a year after I came on here and I did a general chat so met countless survivors and a handful of caregivers, caregivers often being too busy to come onto chat. The time difference means that I was talking to people in the early evening from my early morning the following day which sometimes led to a strange situation as I discussed winter happening while you, my northern friends, were in the middle of summer. As time went by caregivers asked for their own chat and in changing over to host Caregiver Chat I began my relationship with some really inspiring men and women, some of whom became lifelong friends despite our being such a great distance apart.
I became Blog Moderator when Asha stepped down from that job. That is why I am still here almost eight years since Ray's passing. I feel I can still make a contribution to the site. Through the blogs I have learned to see life through other people's eyes. To follow their journeys through their ups and downs, through life to death in some cases with the caregivers and from devastation to a new way of living with the survivors. It has been a great privilege to have accompanied people on their journey in this way. Of course people I have become fond of have left the site, that is inevitable as they progress and maybe can no longer relate to the newbies or no longer need the support provided here. It is sad to lose touch with people I had grown to love and respect but that too is part of life.
I am here not because I am a big contributor, not because I am a person who needs the support myself now as I did when I came here so long ago but because of one person, Steve Mallory the founder of this site. Steve is an inspiration, badly stroke effected himself he dreamed a concept of helping others way beyond his field of influence. While chatting, blogging or just reading on this site we sometime forget that he designed the site and still funds it. We reap the benefits of his foresight, his determination to improve the lives of other stroke survivors and their caregivers. Steve is the forgotten man sometimes but without him none of us would be here.
So THANK YOU Steve from the bottom of my heart.