As a student and teacher of philosophy, I have always believed it possible to think my way out of any situation. In the past, I have almost always managed to get what I want, although it hasn’t always turned out to be what I expected.
Four years ago, I found myself in a situation that made me wonder if I was wrong. Maybe I had met my match; maybe this was the situation where thinking was not going to help. I was only half right.
In June of 2006, after many difficult years, I found myself living a magical life. I had the most wonderful six-year-old daughter, a perfect baby girl in my arms and a man who was, in my eyes, more desirable than any movie star. Things were going well with my family too, especially my sister Belinda and her four fabulous sons. By December, everything had changed.
My sister had lost her long battle with breast cancer and a stroke had turned my karate master Steve into a 17-stone child with no speech, severely reduced movement and little understanding of what was going on around him. Two of my young cousins had died suddenly; my mother was dangerously ill; I had slipped a disk trying to lift Steve and I had many signs of breast cancer. How was I going to think my way out of this?
There were days when I wondered if I was the subject of a cosmic stress test run by a group of mad scientists in a Matrix-type world. I imagined them giggling away in their lab, nudging each other and whispering, “Lets see what happens if we make the commode split, the doorbell ring, the baby cry and Steve shout all at the same time!”
Some people turn to comfort food at times like this. I do too but I also take comfort in reading; the heavier and more obscure the topic the better. When Steve fell ill, I asked his doctors and therapists to give me papers to read. I wanted everything they had on stroke. Then I went online. I started on the first entry that popped up and read and read and read.
After a year, I stumbled upon a treatment the doctors had never mentioned and it really helped Steve. I found another and another, until the light came back into his eyes, the movement came back into his paralyzed arm and the hope came back into our lives. I decided to share my discoveries with others who, like us, were desperately searching for help.
To this end, I am launching a website called Research & Hope in September. It is the culmination of my research so far and includes more than 20 treatments that most doctors never mention. It also has ideas to help children understand illness and a place for carers and family members to find practical advice and support.
Through this blog, I’ll be sharing my experiences while finishing the website. I’ll also be writing about any new treatments Steve is trying and logging his progress… or lack of it! He has just started testing a new drug. As far as I know, he’s the first stroke survivor to try it in Europe.
Please feel free to ask me about anything or to leave a comment.