On a random day during the holiday, I was scrolling through Twitter and came across an interesting tweet that got my attention.
I followed through to the original tweet and met this lovely soul that will be my blog guest for today who is really Surviving stroke, in short words- has survived stroke.
Yay! Allow me to introduce Emma Gee, one of Australia’s acclaimed Inspirational Speakers, offering her thoughts and solutions on resilience and person-centred care, she is definitely doing well in Surviving stroke that occurred due to AVM surgery.
Kindly introduce yourself for my awesome blog readers who don’t know about you yet, answering but not limiting to who are you, where you are from.
My name’s Emma Gee, I am 39 years of age and reside in Melbourne, Australia. I am a stroke survivor, occupational therapist, inspirational speaker & author of Reinventing Emma. You can find out more about me at My Website .
In a nutshell, regaining the ability to write and speak again post-stroke ( Surviving stroke) and realising the importance of sharing my story to help others, were the catalysts for taking on speaking professionally.
I feel that by sharing my experience to date I enable my audiences and readers alike to reflect on their own practices and situations. In doing this, it enables them to better understand and manage their own circumstances, both professionally and personally.
Writing my book entitled Reinventing Emma was another means of relaying my experience of Surviving stroke. Although writing this was an extremely gruelling process, it was also immensely therapeutic.
It enabled me to reflect on my own journey and relay many experiences and hopefully articulate these in a way that others can better process, identify with and understand. I also continually use extracts within this memoir my presentations to reinforce my messages.
14 years into my recovery I am fortunate enough to still have a diverse workload. In fact, my message seems to continually impact all those that read my story or hear me present.
My own story is constantly evolving. I am continually piloting new resources, receiving new services and facing new challenges.
How did you did become a stroke victim?
During surgery to remove a malformation in my brainstem that I was born with.
How old were you when the incident happened?
I was 24 years of age.
What was life before and after stroke?
I was a full-time therapist & avid runner. I was healthy, active & renting with friends.
Looking at how great your recovery has been, how long has been your recovery process?
I don’t know that I’d label my recovery as ‘great’ – it has been a very gruelling & rewarding process. A chapter in my book is entitled ‘The Longevity of Stroke’ – it’s definitely never ending!
How did your family and friends handle it?
The impact on them has been massive. When one person survives a stroke, it definitely happens to all those around them too. In fact, their perspectives were essential in weaving into my book. When I was unable to write, my doctors, parents, friends and sister’s words help narrate my journey. I feel that as a survivor we are so reliant on their support, yet their journey is rarely addressed.
What’s your transition from being independent to being in a state where you depend on other individuals to do things for you and now?
This transition is beyond terrifying. I had worked in this field and discharged people into this new realm but never imagined it would be so difficult. Going out into your old world in a completely new body. Being so reliant on others to do anything. Requiring the support that you definitely need but don’t want.
What’s more, your main supporters are just as terrified about their new ‘carer’ role. In this transition – you need this support to begin to participate in life again. However, living with a chronic condition means that it’s permanent and as time goes on your main carers move on too. Your condition in a way becomes ‘normalised’ and doesn’t impact their fast-paced lifestyle as much anymore. I definitely felt so desperately alone.
Is there anything you feel you would have done to prevent stroke?
My stroke was due to a haemorrhage of a congenital malformation in my brainstem called an arteriorvenular malformation(AVM) which couldn’t be prevented. However, if you are at risk of having an ischaemic stroke there are definitely lifestyle factors that you can consider addressing. Learning the FAST signs of stroke & the preventative measures you can incorporate into your lifestyle!
Has stroke stopped you from living the life you planned and envisioned before it happened?
Having stroke at such a young age completely changed how I envisaged my life to pan out. However, the things I have achieved I never would’ve achieved if it had gone in that direction.
I think the value I place on certain things in my life is now very different. I have a newfound appreciation of what I have in my life & all that I’ve achieved despite my disability.
Has stroke held you back from doing and achieving whatever you want to achieve?
Stroke has definitely made me all that I do & strive for, a lot more challenging. However, more rewarding too. My aspirations are very different since my stroke but each pursuit is so rewarding. Whether travelling overseas, writing a book or relearning how to blink is so far from what I’d thought of I’d achieve when I woke from my coma.
Surviving stroke, what has life been like and feel like.
This is extremely difficult to describe. It is so different for every single stroke survivor. When I had my stroke, my entire life (and the lives of all those around me) totally changed forever.
It’s been a very gruelling but also rewarding journey. Having that newfound insight of life as a patient has definitely enabled me to draw on my experience & attempt to enhance person-centred care. It’s satisfying to know that I can make this unexpected and difficult event into something positive.
I have tried to incorporate my supporters’ perspectives into my book too. Whether it’s doctor’s letters or diary entries/ or accounts of how it feels for them travelling beside me. For the initial six years of my journey I couldn’t have articulated how it felt, I was too engulfed in the process to review it. However, writing my memoir made me reflect on all my journals and others’ words and attempt to convey how it felt.
How did you deal with the emotional trauma that came with stroke and Surviving Stroke.
The emotional toll was HUGE and probably harder to deal with as I had such difficulty communicating. However, as I had seen firsthand the importance of balancing one’s physically & emotional recovery, I was determined to try & jot down my experiences & observations in a journal. Attempt to unleash my thoughts & feelings so not to internalise them. Eight years later I expanded these thoughts & wrote my memoir Reinventing Emma.
There’s this saying that when life throws you lemon you make lemonade out of it, what lemonade have you been able to make out of this?
My motto is “it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you choose to deal with it”. For those that read my book, I think the importance of having that positive outlook on life is vital. I guess life has given me many lemons, unexpected & very bitter ones at times, but I have chosen to make them into lemonade.
Are there opportunities you have had because of all that happened?
Definitely. I wouldn’t be a speaker or Author if I hadn’t survived my stroke. I write in my book – “I never imagined, lying in intensive care that I would ever have balance in my life again. In fact, I am dumbfounded that I have been able to reinvent myself and pursue what I love.
I have developed amazing relationships, returned to meaningful work, begun my own business and written a book while continuing to juggle my seemingly never-ending rehab. But I have learnt that it’s not what happens to you that matters, it’s how you choose to deal with it.” p121
What’s your advice to anyone who will come across this, going through life issues or stroke and who is surviving stroke?
Where do I begin! I want to be brief but really;
Your mindset is the most important thing to focus on. You can’t physically do anything if you’re not motivated to do it!
Having a good, wide, support network is essential in your recovery.
Accepting help is tough but accepting it will leverage you to a new level.
How do you feel now/ how are you doing generally?
My entire story of surviving stroke is recorded in my memoir, reinventing emma. This is not just a detailed account of my stroke recovery, but also a valuable observational memoir for other health professionals, as I share my dual insights as a therapist that has travelled to ‘the other side’.
Wow! It’s been a moment and I am glad that you were able to answer these questions.
You are indeed a survivor!
Keep Surviving Stroke!!
You are Strong and I am definitely among the millions out there rooting for you Emma-gee.
Till my next interesting awareness blog post, choose to deal with life appropriately like her motto, making lemonade out of lemon and be happy…