By Guest Author: John Yurgens
*Blue Water Healthy Living will regularly feature the work of local poets. Please enjoy our first “Poet’s Corner” with the biography of local poet and stroke survivor, John Yurgens.*
We have all heard, “your life can change in an instant” or “in the blink of an eye”. Skeptical? I have a story for you.
First a little background. I met my wife Kay, while working on a show with Port Huron Little Theater ( now Port Huron Civic Theater). Married for 30 years; we raised four (4) children and now we have four (4) amazing grandchildren.
after securing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology master of science and administration, I worked many jobs accumulating over 20 of supervisory managerial experience. In 2010, I finally found a job I absolutely loved. Working for Blue Water Developmental Housing. Then, without any warning, my life changed in an instant on November 12, 2013 (11 12 13) when I suffered a right hemispheric cerebral aneurysm that ruptured and a stroke.
I convinced myself and my doctor, that I was ready, willing and able to return to work (40 hours per week), only five (5) months after my accident. CVA (cranial vascular accident), Part of that five months included a month in ICU and three weeks inpatient rehabilitation. Looking back I realize how foolish I was. Unaware of the extent of my deficits let alone what my deficits actually were; that attempt failed miserably.
Now I do volunteer work at Lake Huron Medical Center. I work primarily with stroke survivors. My goal is to give hope and encouragement survivors and their families.
With a suggestion from my Speech Therapist, I discovered the Stroke Network” an on-line stroke support group.
I joined The Stroke Network on January 2015. In early 2016 I submitted a few poems that were published in the online newsletter Stroke net In June 2016 I was asked to consider becoming a volunteer contributing writer for the Newsletter, I agreed. My column is “Healing with poetry”
I have been blessed with the gift of writing I have written poetry for more than 40 years. Over the last three years it has proven very therapeutic, it has aided me in sorting out the new me and my new normal.
I am humbled, honored and blessed to have the opportunity to share some of my writings with people; it provides some insight into “one Man’s Journey”. I hope some of my words offer some comfort to others along their journey, whatever that journey may be,. After all, we are all in this together. We must look out for each other.
I also participate in two local support groups; McLaren Port Huron group meets the first and third Wednesday of the month from 10-11 am. The support group at Lake Huron Medical Center (formerly Mercy) meets the second Tuesday of the month from 2-3 pm.
All three Support groups have been beneficial to my recovery. Simply to be able to discuss issues with people who truly understand the challenges that we face is so helpful.
I have made the statement “family and friends try to understand, but the only way they can truly understand is experiencing stroke survival first hand.” I pray to God they never truly understand the struggles that come with surviving a stroke.
I isolated myself socially several months; my life was destroyed mentally, emotional, physically and vocationally. I wallowed in self-pity. I finally realized I need to be thankful to be alive. Many people do not survive an aneurysm or a stroke. I survived both. I thank God everyday for my second chance at life and I attempt to make a difference every day. My daily goal is to make the world a better place one person at a time. It may be as simple as greeting everyone with a smile, “hello” and “how are you?”
Unable to drive due to my visual impairment (legally blind), I learned to access the public transportation system here in the Blue Water Area. It is a great system and gives me independence and freedom. I ride the wave six (6) days a week; I rely on family for my rare out of town appointments.
I have met so many great people on the buses. We are like family. If I miss a day and I forget to tell the driver or passengers ahead of time, they worry; they know I’ve had health issues.
I have people approach me and claim “I look forward to seeing you on the bus! You always have a smile, you’re always happy, very curious and you talk to anyone and everyone. I think it is so great!”
With another suggestion from my speech pathologist I began volunteering at Lake Huron Medical Center working primarily with stroke survivors. I attempt to offer hope and encouragement. If anyone knows how scary and lonely it is to wake up in that hospital bed and not have a clue what the future might bring it’s me.
It is so rewarding when a stroke survivor or family tells me ‘you give me so much hope for my future” or “you give me so much hope for my dad’s future.” There are times I need to fight back the tears.
I am so humbled when I get that feedback.