When Mark Miller feels like bacon for breakfast, there’s no frying pan involved; he bakes his bacon in the oven.
Scratching his right elbow, however, is more of a challenge and lathering up with sunscreen on his right shoulder, well, that is an unusual experience.
That’s because, as Miller puts it, “my left side is not coming to the party.”
Five years ago, while volunteering in Tanzania, Miller suffered a stroke at the age of 46. Combined with malaria and typhoid, he literally fell over, dizzy and sick. It would be five weeks before he could fly back to Victoria for full care.
Miller lost the use of his left side and had to fight through the haziness in his brain for several years. Gone are the adventurous trips to Africa and backpacking in the bush, but he has kept his active lifestyle and the same spirit of helping others.
He just had to find different ways to get there.
“To me, it’s all about attitude and perception,” he says.
Now, he helps fellow stroke survivors with a view to what life can look like once clarity has returned.
Miller is one of the volunteer facilitators for the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Living with Stroke program.
The program is designed to help stroke survivors and their families improve their quality of life, cope with challenges and connect with others.
Provided free in several B..C communities, the Living with Stroke program is comprised of eight weekly, two-hour sessions. Weekly topics include: impact of stroke, physical changes and keeping active; dealing with emotions and relationships; reducing future risk and nutrition.
“You’re so lost at first. The rug was pulled right out from under me,” Miller explains. “You don’t feel like you’re part of society for a while.”
He adds, “I can give people a reason to go forward. I give them optimism this will improve. They’re looking at someone who has lived it.”
All stroke survivors and their families are welcome to join the next Living with Stroke program:
• WHAT: Living with Stroke program
• WHEN: Sundays, Feb. 1 to March 22, 1 to 3 p.m.
• WHERE: Gordon Head Recreation Centre, 4100 Lambrick Way, Saanich
• INFO: To register, please call 1-888-473-4636. For more information on stroke resources and the program, please see go online to heartandstroke.bc.ca/livingwithstroke