"My name is Debra Meyerson"
It took me two years to re-learn that sentence!
In 2010, when I was a professor at Stanford, I suffered a severe stroke. I lost all movement of my right arm and leg; even worse, I lost all ability to communicate.
While I won my struggle to survive, much of my identity – as a Stanford professor, a speaker and writer, an athlete, a mother and a wife – was taken from me. My mind was working but I was trapped inside a broken body, unable to do what I used to do. And maybe even worse, I couldn't tell anyone what I was experiencing.
With hard work and a lot of help I regained enough mobility to again be independent, and have recovered some ability to speak. But I have come to accept that I will never again have all the capabilities I once had.
Six years later, I'm still slowly recovering more of my abilities and am continuing to rebuild my identities. I've found few resources to help with the emotional piece of this journey, and have heard the same from many of my fellow survivors. That is why I'm writing Identity Theft: Rediscovering Ourselves after Stroke.
As a professor, I studied and taught about how small, everyday actions can disrupt what’s normal, chip away at the status quo, and create positive change. That work led me to write Tempered Radicals, first published in 2001.
Now, in a very different context, I live by the message I previously taught. With small, deliberate efforts, and a lot of conscious choices, I continue my slow recovery, discover more about myself, and shape my new identities.
About Sally Collings
Co-Writer, Identity Theft