The Letter



A Unique Perspective on His Survival

by Stroke Survivor and Comedian John Kawie

Dear Cerebral Vascular Accident,

Excuse me for not keeping in touch, but hey, here I am. Hard to believe November 2nd is right around the corner. You know what that means? The big Two-O! Imagine, we’ve been together for 20 years. Wow?!?! My excitement defies punctuation. So, let me take this milestone to finally say thank you.

Seriously. Thank you.

First of all, you were the one responsible for never letting me forget my wedding anniversary. You made quite the entrance when you burst into my life only seven days after my marriage. Wasn’t it gracious of Marilyn to allow you to crash our honeymoon? The fact that she has put up with us this long defies belief. Let’s face it, if it weren’t for her, we would be in some back alley competing with feral cats for restaurant scraps, drinking cheap wine and generally existing in a Charles Bukowski-style universe. That should qualify her for sainthood status. I bet if I shot off a quick text to Pope Francis, I could make that happen. Then again, thanks to you, I’d probably forget to do it.

Speaking of which, you really worked your magic in that department. Other than my anniversary, you hit the “delete” key on everything else in my memory banks. It was you who gave birth to such stunning accomplishments as forgetting to turn off the gas, lock the apartment door or why I’m leaving in the first place. On the plus side, who wouldn’t want their home festooned with a kaleidoscope of Day-Glo reminder Post-it® notes. It’s like walking into a box of Froot Loops®. All I need is Toucan Sam™ greeting me at the door to make me feel like I’m 5 again.

See, there’s another thing I should thank you for. You are so amazing! You allowed me to relive my childhood. Learning how to walk and talk again was awesome. It’s even more exciting now that I’m an adult familiar with the laws of physics. Specifically, gravity. So what if I take a header every once in a while? At least I get to spend quality time with my wife later in the emergency room.

Then there are those pesky cognitive issues you casually slipped in when I wasn’t looking. I love those. Some stroke survivors might feel differently, but they’re the outliers. Take my buddy, Tim. In group, he’d grumble, “I’ve lost my mind,” because he couldn’t make change for a dollar. Hey, don’t take it personally. Tim’s mind was lost way before his brain injury. It took me over an hour to pick out prepositions in a New York Times paragraph, but did I complain?

Thank you for allowing me to never again set foot on a golf course. Honestly, is it even a sport? Personally, I think it was invented to give men an excuse to dress like a pimp.

Which reminds me, my wife would like to thank you for giving me the option to cheerfully disregard all sexual positions but three: me on the bottom, me on the bottom, and me on the bottom.

Best of all, as a comedian I’m always searching for new material. Now, thanks to you, I’ve got a treasure trove!

I could go on, but I’ve forgotten half of it. So, here’s to us, old friend. On the big day we’ll pop open the bubbly and toast our future. I’d jump for joy, but I can’t do that anymore.

Your fan,

John

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AHA-ASA Resources

The Support Network

When faced with challenges recovering from heart disease or stroke, it’s important to have emotional support. That is why we created a network to connect patients and loved ones with others during their journey.

Stroke Family Warmline

The Warmline connects stroke survivors and their families with an ASA team member who can provide support, helpful information or just a listening ear. We have trained several members of ASA's national call

Let's Talk About Stroke Patient Information Sheets

Let's Talk About Stroke is a series of downloadable patient information sheets, created by the American Stroke Association, that presents information in a question-and-answer format that's brief, easy to follow and easy to read.

Request Free Stroke Information Packets

Fill out this online form to request free information about a variety of post-stroke topics.

Caregiver Guide to Stroke

The Caregiver Guide to Stroke is meant to help caregivers better navigate the recovery process and the financial and social implications of a stroke.

Tips for Daily Living Library

This volunteer-powered library gathers tips and ideas from stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals all over the country who’ve created or discovered adaptive and often innovative ways to get things done!

Stroke Support Group Finder

To find a group near you, simply enter your ZIP code and a mile radius. If your initial search does not pull up any groups, try
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Stroke & Parts of the Brain

When Stroke Affects the Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe has several functions, mainly involved with memory, perception and language.

When Stroke Affects the Brain Stem

The brain stem serves as a bridge in the nervous system. It sits at the top of the spinal column in the center of the brain. When a stroke happens there, it can cause a few different deficits and, in the most severe cases, can lead to locked-in syndrome.

When Stroke Affects the Thalamus

The thalamus can be thought of as a "relay station," receiving signals from the brain’s outer regions (cerebral cortex), interpreting them, then sending them to other areas of the brain to complete their job.
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Departments

Stroke Notes

Stroke-related news you can use about new scientific findings, public policy, programs and resources.

Readers Room

Articles, poems and art submitted by stroke survivors and their loved ones.

Life Is Why

Everyone has a reason to live a longer, healthier life. These stroke survivors, caregivers and others share their 'whys'. We'd love for you to share yours, too!

Everyday Survival

Practical tips and advice for day-to day living after stroke.

Life At The Curb

A unique perspective on survival by comedian and stroke survivor John Kawie.

Simple Cooking

Cooking at home can be a daunting task, but a rewarding one for your diet and lifestyle (and your wallet). Making small changes in your diet is important to your heart health. Here are simple, healthy and affordable recipes and cooking tips.

Support Showcase

Our new department highlighting the good work being done by stroke support groups from around the nation. If you are part of a successful support group we should consider featuring, let us know!