Meet Bill Gasiamis
In February 2012 I was a busy father with two teenage kids and the owner of a successful property maintenance company.
I was time poor, stressed out, and working too many hours. I wasn’t eating well, grabbing whatever I could whenever I could, and I had no time to myself.
It was a Friday in February 2012, that all changed when I experienced a stroke.
I couldn’t believe it was happening to me. I thought only elderly people had strokes, and here I was at 37 years of age, laying flat on my back in a hospital bed. I couldn’t remember things, I couldn’t form sentences properly, and I certainly couldn’t type an email. Above all I was so incredibly tired all the time.
I was scared. I was scared that I wouldn’t recover; scared I would have secondary stroke. My life went into a holding pattern where nothing was certain and everything was out of control.
“I missed my old life.”
I couldn’t go to work, which I loved. I couldn’t play sport or go to the gym. I wasn’t allowed to drive. I couldn’t make plans for the future.
My treatment felt like a never ending journey – medications, MRI’s, numerous neuropsychological evaluations and hours of difficult rehabilitation.
Everything took a long time and I felt like I had no control over the process.
I didn’t get any advice on what I could do to improve my situation. I didn’t receive any information on support services, and my wife as a carer did not receive any support.
“It was incredibly frustrating.”
All I really wanted was to get my brain and my health back. To be normal again. To be able to support my family.
On top of that, the side effects of my medication made me even more unwell. The diet guidelines I was following didn’t seem to help, and I was sitting at home for long stretches of time with little energy or purpose. My doctors told me there was nothing for me to do, other than take my meds, take it easy, and come back in 6 weeks.
But there had to be something I could do to help myself.
So I experimented with some little things. I stopped eating certain foods for a few days at the beginning, and when I noticed I felt better, I extended it. I stopped drinking coffee, cut out refined sugar and stopped eating wheat based products – and I felt even better.
I took on a challenge to experience with each kind of food, one at a time. It took four years, but I found nutritious alternative diet that worked for me. I noticed my energy increased and my symptoms started to lessen. My mental clarity returned and I lost weight.
Next I tried some more ‘out there’ things. I took up yoga, meditation breathing exercises and visualisation. Nothing crazy, but quite different to my lifestyle pre-stroke. And I felt calmer, less concerned and less anxious. I learned how I could influence my wellbeing, I became more active, and I took back some control and responsibility for my own recovery.
I’m better now, but I still have some ongoing challenges – I still have some numbness in my left hand side. But I can walk again and I don’t have hand eye coordination problems any more.
I’ve returned to full time work and that has required some adjusting and being conscious of my energy levels. I no longer take medication and my physical health is better than it has ever been. I’m even driving again.
I have my independence back and I’m an active member of my community. I don’t work excessive hours anymore, I sleep better, I’m in less pain, and I do more of the things I love.
I met heaps of people in the hospital waiting rooms with the same challenges. One waiting room in particular I referred to as the ‘Transit Lounge’ and it’s become the name of my media channel.
I don’t want others to feel like I felt. There’s such a big gap between hospital and home and there’s not enough new information and support being circulated for survivors and carers.
“My work aims to help with the ‘last mile’ between when the hospital tells you it’s time to go home, and when you can actively function in the community again.”
Join me in the Transit Lounge as I share my experience and learnings, and those of other stroke survivors. Sometimes we get controversial, and you might have to suspend your disbelief about your old thoughts on health wellbeing and recovery.
At times it will be a challenge. You will lack the energy. People will say it doesn’t make a difference, and it make take time for you to notice a difference. But if something’s not working or working fast enough, why not try a few other things – conduct some little experiments, and see happens.
Let us join you on your road to recovery. Please stay in touch and I’d love for you to join me in the Transit Lounge.