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Michael Obel-Omia, Rhode Island

Michael is an educator and public speaker who suffered a right ischemic stroke, resulting in aphasia and muscle weakness on his left side in May 2016.

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Through determination and with the support of family, friends, and therapists, Michael continues to fight back to regain his physical and cognitive abilities. We thank him for becoming an advocate and sharing his personal story and powerful words (see below).

Today, 21 May 2018, I’m lucky. I can walk under ladders. Two years ago, Saturday, 21 May 2016, I had a stroke. Okay, not so lucky, but I am okay, I am doing, I can improve, I’m lucky.

In May 2016, my wife, my children, my in-laws visited me, I stayed in Spaulding for 37 days. In Spaulding, I was disconsolate, I was in pain. I couldn’t walk, my arms were left, my slur was hard to hear. One evening, at about 35 days, I called Carolyn, my beloved wife, and cried and cried: “please take me home, Carolyn, please, take me home.” I was anxious: “who would have my job, who would have my work, who would want me?"

Words whirled before my eyes: I could think of every single word, but I slurred my words. It is like with butter on maple syrup: sticky, sweet, useless. I’m drowning here, people, and all my work could say, “You can do it!” I hated it, I was depressed, really depressed.

But, I’m lucky, I really am: Chris pushed and pushed me in Tai Chi until I could hold my arm up. I had hundreds and hundreds of people behind me, so, I had to make it. I cried. I am lucky: this I believe, when someone faces a black hole, someone, anyone, can be okay because he is not alone.

A quotation spoke to me: “FEAR, forget everything and run, or FEAR, face everything and rise; the choice is yours”. I cycle thrice a week for 60 miles, I rowed for six months with East Bay Rowing, I competed in a rowing challenge, and I tried. It was great. I work with occupational therapy, speech therapy, and URI Book Club, because, I’m lucky. I face everything and rise.

Tomorrow will be an exciting day. I don’t know what it will bring, but this I believe, it will be a lucky one.

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