Gunter Wenzel


January 5th, 2003, just into the New Year, brought a change to my life. I was sitting in the kitchen relaxing after supper. My daughter Kristin was downstairs, my wife Heather was having a bath, when all of a sudden the ceiling started to rotate and I knew that something was up. I yelled for my wife. Suddenly a sharp pain hit the right side of my body. I thought I'd had a heart attack. I thought to myself "why now" as my wife rushed to phone 911 and the medics came. The medics gave me a shot, carried me to an ambulance, and rushed me to the Health Sciences Centre. To say I was scared was an understatement. I was left with no feeling on my right side, double vision and some paralysis on my left. Basically at that time I thought life really "sucked".


The doctors told me I'd had a stroke. My father died of a stroke so I knew this was really serious.


They stabilized my condition. After a few tests the Doctor told me that in the next few days I would start therapies that would allow me to hopefully return to a somewhat normal life. I thought no problem; boy was I in for a surprise. It was agony everyday without the help of The Health Care Aids.


When you have a stroke you have many hours to think "now what." How am I going to support my family? Will I work again? How will my wife and others see me now? Anxiety in abundance.


I was transferred to the stroke rehab unit under the care of Dr. Daniels. She basically said: "Do your exercises, work hard everyday, and hopefully some feeling will come back and you'll walk again." I thought to myself, I'm going to do this come "hell or high water".


For months I worked hard with the help of staff and my loved ones. I met other stroke survivors who were worse off than I was. I did lots of stuff that wasn't according to their protocol but the doctor let me "think outside the box."


One day I was going past the desk and I picked up a pamphlet from the Stroke Recovery Association of Manitoba (SAM). I read it and asked Dr. Daniels about the organization which she highly recommended. When I got home on March 1st I phoned SAM and said I would come out to their office and see what they had to offer. They gave me a tour and explained their programs. After mulling it over I paid the fee and was told to come to the general meeting. At that time I also joined the support group "In Your Prime." I went to a general meeting and I was enlightened to say the least. Here was a small group struggling to carry on the good work. It reminded me of another support group I belonged to before and that was for sleep apnea.


Some, after a stroke, experience an epiphany. I thought that I could help the organization in some way. I met with Marybeth Gilroy. She has a subtle way to get you to volunteer. With my past experiences with fund raising I felt this would be a perfect job for me. I have met a lot of great stroke members, each telling their stories with feeling and emotions. You look in their eyes and their eyes seem to tell their story. "You know."


My wife Heather, a nurse, is very supportive and so are my daughter Kristin and all my "normal friends." I can't work any more because of the stroke so I have free time to give. So reflecting back to "why now," now was my time to reassess and move forward. I have good days and bad days but one thing I can say, I don't cry or laugh alone. Friends are there to pick me up and give me "a boot in the rear end " when I feel sorry for myself.


My first grandchild Velorian makes all the family are proud, especially Grandpa. He gives me so much support that he doesn't even know about yet. I am looking forward to many "slow walks with Velorian." I hope I can keep up.


I would like to thank you for taking time in your busy life to read this. I hope all members, staff and their loved ones have lots of good health and as you know that's more important than anything money can buy.


Stars for Stroke Pictures, a program of Stroke Recovery Association of Manitoba


Gunter passed away January 2010.

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