By Ng Peng Hock
A stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is interrupted. The most common cause of stroke is a blockage of arteries leading to the brain. Its effect will depend on which part of the brain is affected, and its severity. Stroke, also known as brain attack, happens rapidly and hence immediate treatment is very critical. Persons with stroke will usually feel weak suddenly, lose sensation, and have difficulty to talk, see or walk.
The year of 1999 was definitely not a good one for Michael who is a businessman of age 61 at that time because a contract fell through and a client failed to pay him. Nevertheless, he decided to put all these behind and traveled with his wife to celebrate the New Year of 2000 at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. Waking up on the New Year's Day after a night's revelry, he felt something was not right. He found difficulty to do up his shirt and his leg would not work properly and he suspected he had suffered a stroke during his sleep.
He did not want to be hospitalized away from home and family, so he pretended he had a leg injury and got on the plane and returned home. Upon alighting at the airport, he went straight to the hospital and was warded for some time before doctor allowed him to return home.
The stroke had affected the right side of Michael's body and also his speech. He was prescribed with anti-platelet medication to prevent a stroke from recurring and a possible heart attack that he was at a higher risk of getting.
From Internet, he learnt about how "qigong" could help stroke patients recover. He did a 6-month intensive course, and learnt about qi (Chinese for energy) and the importance of having a balance between body and mind. Qigong also taught him to focus his body's energies on healing himself and to relax. Learning to relax is important for stroke patients like him as stroke occurs amid stressful circumstances.
He is 68 now. Although he has never fully regained his speech and mobility, qigong has helped him to forget his bitterness about the stroke improved his mobility, and allowed him to embrace a fuller life once again. He has re-learnt to drive again, and he now plays golf.
Of course, he also watches what he eats to keep his blood pressure and cholesterol level down. He reiterated that he should have sought treatment sooner as the outcome would have been better.
He now teaches qigong relaxation techniques to other stroke survivors and shares his experience to help other people recover and keep a positive outlook.
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