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,


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Stroke Rehabilitation

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The type of rehabilitation and support systems a survivor receives at discharge can strongly influence health outcomes and recovery. In this, the first part of a two-part series on stroke rehab, we offer guidance for the decision-making process required when it’s time to leave the hospital.

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AHA-ASA Resources

The Support Network

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Caregiver Guide to Stroke

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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

Tips for Daily Living Library

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Stroke Family Warmline

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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.
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Stroke & Parts of the Brain

When Stroke Affects the Occipital Lobe

Our occipital lobe, the smallest of the four lobes of the cerebral cortex, controls how we visually interpret our world.

When Stroke Affects the Cerebellum

The cerebellum contains 80 percent of our neurons. Its job seems to be to make things better. We talked with neuroscientist Jeremy Schmahmann about how stroke affects the “little brain.”

When Stroke Affects the Parietal Lobe

The parietal lobe helps us make sense of sensory information, like where our bodies and body parts are in space, our sense of touch, and the part of our vision that deals with the location of objects.

When Stroke Affects the Frontal Lobe

Of the four lobes that make up the cerebral cortex, the frontal lobe is the largest. It plays a huge role in many of the functions that make us human — memory, language, movement, judgment, abstract thinking.

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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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!