A Victim No Longer

Dick TaylorToday, I write poems in ode form as a hobby. How does this peculiar habit of mine relate to the stroke I suffered September 16, 2013?

I was admitted to Emory University Midtown Hospital on September 16th to undergo a much needed hip replacement surgery. All went well, and I was scheduled for release the following day. But around midnight I was caught unaware by a stroke that affected my entire left side. I spent five more days in the hospital before I was discharged to Emory Rehabilitation Hospital to begin my recovery. I believe strongly that God sent me there.

Can you imagine hip surgery and a disabling stroke occurring on the same day? It goes without saying that coping with both became a daunting challenge for me. And, I was mad at the entire situation.

When I placed pen to paper, I intended the poem to be an upbeat, positive feel good piece with a motivational flavor. The finished product shocked me, because it reflected me in an angry light, more confused and afraid than strong and hopeful; not the outcome I was seeking.

However, upon review, I concluded that my “Ode To A Stroke” was, in the end, truthful and realistic; something fellow stroke survivors could and would embrace. I had finished the poem promoting hope, determination and perseverance; traits representing the challenges faced every day by people with stroke.

Throughout my ordeal the commitment of the nurses, doctors, and staff has been inspirational and healing. The nurturing and training administered by my physical, occupational, recreational and speech therapists over the ensuing months has given me renewed strength. Together, they saved my life…a victim no longer; and they continue their work daily to improve the lives of those afflicted by stroke.

ODE TO A STROKE or A Life Altered
 Dick Taylor, December 26, 2013
I was moving forward at a pace,
In this life called the human race,
With strength and purpose and resolve,
And little thought to how we evolve.

How simple it has been to ambulate,
My legs stride out with a steady gait,
Effortlessly in motion with no command,
To walk, to run, to sit or stand.

My arms reach and carry,
And hug and tote,
And accomplish tasks,
As if by rote.

And, oh! My hands!
They grasp and cling and digitize,
Fingers point, Aha!
As I discover and realize.

How astonishing our bodies,
Intricate machines to behold,
Easily functioning,
Without being told!

Until….that nightmarish instant,
Unforeseen, unexpected, unwarranted, unfair,
When an explosion of cranial havoc,
Renders me motionless and unaware.

I look at my lifeless arm,
I tell my hand to grip, to clasp,
And wonder why it won’t respond,
Nothing works, “my God!” I gasp!

Minutes ago I was hearty and hale,
Now I lie here, wane and pale,
Feeling alone in my solitude,
Facing uncertainty and rectitude.

But….life goes on, I will survive,
I am told to work, I am alive,
Does anyone know how angry I feel,
depressed, in pain, a long time to heal?

My life has been altered,
Run down from behind,
I could not see it coming,
So disabling and unkind.

So…..where do I go from here?
How do I rebuild my whole?
When imbalance and weakness,
And heartache assault my very soul?

God answers these fears directly,
He dispatches people who care,
Angels to push and train and
Encourage me in my physical repair.

Time and patience and persistence,
Offer recovery I am sure,
And Faith that I will mend,
Determined to find my cure!

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