From a Wheelchair to a Corvette
After much hard work and determination, Bill Perrick mastered a new set of wheels after a stroke.
Bill Perrick, Survivor Woodstock, Maryland
On April 15, 2006 (yep, tax day), I experienced a hemorrhage of an AVM (arterio-venous malformation) resulting in a stroke. I was airlifted to Washington D.C. Hospital Center where I had surgery. When I woke up in recovery with a tracheotomy, I could no longer walk, talk, read a book or swallow. In addition to the trach, I had a feeding tube and a urinary catheter.
Two months later, I left Washington Rehab Hospital in a wheelchair still unable to walk, read or swallow, and still retaining the feeding tube and catheter. I was able to communicate with a very limited vocabulary and grunting a lot. The next month, my Maryland driver’s license expired.
Prior to my stroke, I had ordered my “dream car,” a Chevrolet Corvette, for my 60th birthday, but had to refuse it when it came in because I was in the hospital. After many years of physical, occupational, speech and vision therapy (the stroke left me with double vision) as well as psychological counseling, I am now walking, talking, reading, running a little, playing basketball, eating and swallowing solid foods and liquids.
Once I had regained my vision and satisfied the Maryland Medical Advisory Board that I was capable of driving a vehicle, I took the driver’s test and regained my driver’s license in August 2007. Then I re-ordered my dream car. I am proud to report that since January 2008, I have been driving a C6 Corvette Coupe. I could not have done it without a fantastic primary caregiver (my wife, Sandi) and oodles of great therapists.
Being one of the fortunate people who survived a stroke, I have found that it takes lots of patience and time for the brain and body to heal. I would further counsel survivors to seek out professional assistance and support during the recovery process. And never, ever, give up on that dream — whatever it may be.