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Caregiver & Family

On October 19, 2003, I was at the organ performing my duties as the Minister of Music for the United Methodist Church that I worked for over 30 years. I kept motioning to my sound technician to turn the music down because it was seemingly getting louder and louder. Well later on I would discover that it was not the music but me, I was beginning to experience the symptoms of a stroke.

Less than one year earlier, I had begun dating a beautiful woman who had been in corporate America traveling most of the U.S. Little did we both know, she would become a full-time caregiver for me and later her father. After the ambulance was called, my choir director rushed to Cathy's church to tell her that I was being taken to the hospital, but they were not sure why. She got to the hospital about the same time as the ambulance. I worried about her and what she might be going through not knowing what was wrong with me.  After hours in the ER, I was later transferred to ICU and she and my family members were allowed to see me. 

From that night on, this beautiful woman was by my side day in and day out. At the time we were not even engaged, so she had no real reason to stick with me because she had no assurance of what would happen, but she never left my side. She went from being wined and dined by me to having to feed me, bathe me, and assist me with many other simple tasks. When I was transferred to the floor, she would sleep in the window seat of my room.  She and the wife of the patient next to me would talk to each other every night and encourage each other. They would eat some of their meals together and they became very close friends. 

Then I was discharged and began my in-patient rehab. We were not allowed to have visitors during the hours of therapy but Cathy would come by and have lunch with me, and come back later in the evening and sit with me, bathe me, and help me prepare for the next day. When I was discharged from there, I had out-patient rehab for more than a year three times a week. Cathy was there learning the exercises and helped me with them at home. 

I could no longer live alone, and moved in with my father and brother. On one of my first passes from the rehab hospital, Cathy took me to dinner at a very nice restaurant in downtown Charleston. I felt the entire place was looking at me, and wondering why this young man was walking in with a quad cane. She assured me that no one was watching and I was doing just fine. She was my biggest supporter and motivator. 

Everyone thought she had lost her mind, but she had faith in God and faith in me. I don't know where I would be without her. She battled with my former employer to ensure that I received the proper disability benefits, and then with Social Security, who denied me benefits twice. However, she kept trying until I received them. I proposed to her on November 5, 2005, and we were married August 6, 2006. Together we work with the Charleston County Stroke Action Team to educate our community on the effects of stroke, and are local Ambassadors for Power to End Stroke.

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Display of the Faces of Stroke stories does not imply National Stroke Association's endorsement of any product, treatment, service or entity. National Stroke Association strongly recommends that people ask a healthcare professional about diagnosis and treatment questions before using any product, treatment or service. The views expressed through the stories reflect those of the authors and do not reflect the opinion of National Stroke Association.

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