Coaching with Marcia
How did you get to be a Health & Life Coach?
To answer this question, I have to admit some vulnerable stuff. I had a stroke in 2014. I had my own business at that time, and it ended the day I had my stroke. Now, I had to figure out how to walk again. . . how to talk again. . . try to remember things. . . and how to live with the pain that was there with me constantly.
It turns out that learning to walk was way easier that learning to talk again. I worked every day trying to get my right leg to move properly. It took 1-1/2 years, many therapists, and my husband before a person passing me on the street would say that I walked normally. I still had pain, but people on the outside didn’t see that.
Talking. Well, that was a different story. I had Broca’s aphasia. That is an “acquired communication disorder that impairs a person’s ability to process language, but does not affect intelligence.” Up to 40% of stroke survivors have some type of aphasia.
In the beginning, I couldn’t speak at all. With Broca’s aphasia, I could hear and understand what everyone said. I had the words to say back to them in my head, but I just couldn’t say them. Occasionally, I could get something out. Normally, it wasn’t what I was truly thinking. It was as if I had two people in my head . . . the one who couldn’t say what I was thinking, and one who had to try to say, well, anything that made some kind of sense. Frustrating? You bet.
According to the National Aphasia Association, “If the symptoms of aphasia last longer than two or three months after a stroke, a complete recovery is unlikely.” I didn’t like to hear those words and I decided I would overcome aphasia. The crazy part is that, at 3-1/2 years, I did! I wrote a book about my experience with the stroke and aphasia called Stroke Forward: How to Become Your Own Healthcare Advocate . . . One Step at a Time.
Writing my story unearthed another problem that I had from my aphasia. I could read after my stroke, but I couldn’t write. It took a lot of looking at thesaurus.com and thinking about which words I was trying to say, how they were put together before I finally tried to type them again . . . and again . . . and again (because my right hand kept getting off the correct keys). It took 4-1/2 years for me to write and publish my book.
I began training to be a podcast guest in 2019 because I wanted stroke survivors (and their caregivers) to know that there is hope. It takes dogged determination. Sometimes you fall flat on your face. If you get up and try again, that’s all that anyone can ask of you.
There are so few people who understand the pain and anguish of what it is like to go through a stroke. I know what if feels like to not want to do your exercises. I know what it feels like to shut down because what you want to say just doesn’t come out of your mouth — try as you might. I know that not being able to speak made me feel small and alone. I know that caregivers also deal with issues they never thought they’d face. I went to the Health Coach Institute because I wanted to take what I have learned through the last several years to give to others hope, encouragement, and transformation to become a new kind of whole. Essentially, the new normal. It can be wonderful!