Tony Boudia shows us the power of mindset and positive thinking when it comes to recovering from a stroke. He embodied the mantra “I can. I shall. I will,” after coming across Sean Entin’s Strokehacker video while in the hospital. Tony believes these words were pivotal in his recovery process.

 

Listen to the podcast here:

Taking The First Steps After A Stroke with Tony Boudia

I Can, I Shall, I Will

I’ve often wondered when I was reporting, anchoring, and doing some impactful stories, what kind of impact stories had on people? I felt that I was helping people by telling their stories and soliciting some help to get them through some rough times, but I didn’t always know. Our guest is Tony Boudia. Sean, you got to find out how much you impacted somebody with your perseverance and your journey and the things that kept you motivated. In your 5 Minutes with Seany or any of your other videos on your support groups, you always say, “I can, I shall, I will.” Tony had a stroke. He found himself in the same situation you did in a hospital and not able to walk just like you and all this stuff and he stumbled across you. His wife did.

They found me on the internet and I’d started a campaign called the StrokeHacker and my motto there is, “I can, I shall, I will.” He adopted that and he forced himself to walk. He took his first steps based on, “I can, I shall, I will.” We’ve become friends now. He’s very successful, but I’ve coached him back to work and back into the car. I’ve helped him not physically, just spiritually and emotionally to get back to where he needs to be independent and to be working again. He’s a phenomenal guy.

You were in his shoes. You were able to effectively communicate with him. He woke up in the hospital just like you did. What happened? Part of my body is paralyzed. I’m not walking. I’m not talking. He was told the same things that he’s not going to get too much better, but he refused to accept that.

It’s confusing for the loved ones, for the people who go through it themselves and there’s no knowledge out there and there’s no information. All I was doing was trying to provide a source to communicate effectively with people who went through the same thing I went through with the stroke, the brain injury and how they bounce back.

He talks about it too about how it was a struggle. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything.

He’s been through some harsh times. We went raw with him. He has seen the darkness and now he’s back in the light.

You helped him along the way through his recovery. You told him some of the things you did to learn how to drive again.

He says if he didn’t remember to put on the seatbelt, he would have fallen out the door. I was like, “It’s good that we’d got that down.” People take for granted the step by step, the easiness of having two hands of tying a shoe or opening up a jar and twisting a cap and things that we don’t recognize every day. We’re being blind in one eye or being partially paralyzed. I walk people through some simple easy step that I’ve learned to adapt, and he took it on. He embraced it. He made it his own mantra and now he’s helping out people, which is awesome.

AIH 4 | After A Stroke

After A Stroke: People take for granted the step by step, the easiness of having two hands, of tying a shoe or opening up a jar and twisting a cap; things that we don’t recognize every day.

 

He was inspired to continue on the campaign of, “I can, I shall, I will,” and he is now impacting others too. He talks about his struggles on how to learn to do things all over again. I do remember him saying that he would have fallen out of the car if you didn’t put the seatbelt on. He also needed you to walk him through that first day back at work because he was terrified.

He was scared. He didn’t want to go and I started to laugh at myself. I was like, “You just go. You watch what happens.” I predicted it. They all showed up there and they applauded him and that was awesome. He was like, “They applauded me. I made people smile and get out of their seats and come see me.” They all had a great day and a great time because they were excited for him to be back. They’re proud of him and themselves.

He was self-conscious. A lot of the fear came from the fact that he was not walking.

His ego hit him hard.

He had a limp and not full use of everything. He told us he was very scared of that and self-conscious and thought people would stare at him and it was quite the opposite.

I knew, and I had to let him go through his own first day. I’m still there for him and he’s there for me as well. That’s what this is all about. Finding the adventure to recover for yourself and then help others along the way.

He shared his journey with us and the journey continues for him and will always continue. He doesn’t deny that either and neither do you. It’s going to be a work in progress for the rest of our lives, his life, your life, just in different ways for different people. He doesn’t sugarcoat that, but he talks about his road to recovery.

The big thing with us is acceptance. Accepting the new norm, accepting where we’re at in this moment in time and for having a bit of a moment, it’s going to pass. It’s not going to last forever. Those moments will get better and that’s what you have to believe in yourself.

Find the adventure to recover for yourself and then help others along the way. Click To Tweet

Enjoy listening to Tony because there are some pretty candid moments. He’s a good guy but there are also some funny moments about the things he realized after he had a stroke. The one thing he was worried about still working when he opened his eyes in the hospital. I’m sure you can guess what that is. Sean is talking to someone who was brought into his life because he also had a stroke. These two were brought together. It turned out that Tony Boudia needed some inspiration after having a stroke. He by a stroke of luck found Sean via Sean support groups on the internet and now these two have become friends. They share stories together about what it’s like to have a stroke and get past a stroke and move back into their lives. We have Tony on the show with us. Tony, thank you so much for joining us.

Thank you.

What do you remember that day that changed your life?

The only thing I truly remember is I wasn’t feeling as good as I could that day. That night after dinner I went to put my dishes in the sink and I fell over and I couldn’t get back up. My wife was like, “What’s wrong?” I said, “I can’t get back up.” Immediately we responded and my hospital was close, so we decided to go run to the emergency room and there was a stroke. The weird thing is that to this day I don’t remember a lot of when I was in my first hospital. I was there for about three or four days but then I could tell you everything about when I was in rehab.

What day did you have a stroke?

February 20th, 2017.

That’s something you won’t ever forget, I’m sure. That’s the day that your life changed. You wake up you’re in the hospital. All of these things have transpired. When you woke up and you were conscious and started to realize that something had happened, what did you ask your doctors? What did you ask your wife? Did you know what happened?

We didn’t know for almost 24 hours because it happened in the evening around 7:00 PM. They test throughout the night then the next day they said, “You had a stroke. It was bad.” For me, it was like, “What does that mean?” The doctor said, “Not good.”

AIH 4 | After A Stroke

After A Stroke: The big part of the journey is the rehab and the fight to come back.

 

What were you like before the stroke? Were you fairly active? Did you and your wife travel? What was it like before the stroke?

I’m an avid biker, an outdoorsman. I’m a very active person.

This had to be a blow. You’ve probably thought, “I had a stroke. What does this mean for my life?”

It is life changing. I was going, “Am I going to go back to work? Can I drive? Can I do these things again?” The main thing was I couldn’t walk, and I was like, “This is bizarre. What do I do?” That’s when the therapist came in to get involved and do a great job.

What were the thoughts running through your head once it hit you that you had a stroke? All of the things that you’ve done in your life easily were now suddenly impossible to do at the moment.

You get scared because of your finances, your job, and your life. I was like, “What am I going to do? How do I get up and do?” You’re numb, shocked, and you’re angry.

Anger is one of the first things that you deal with. Tell us about going through rehab and how one day you stumbled across some of the things that Sean had been posting on the internet as inspiration to others.

You’re going to be doing a lot of research. A lot of the stroke groups are like, “Woe is me,” or how they’re not going to be able to go back where this is their new norm. As I was surfing, all of a sudden Seany came up and I was like, “What’s this?” I started reading and then we watched the show and it’s incredible. I shared it with my family and after a few shows going on, I started sharing it with my therapist. One of my occupational therapists watch the shows and the, “I can, I shall, I will,” came into play because I was mad angry. It was tough. He said, “Look at Sean. Look what he’s done. He was told his life was going to change and he was going to do these things again.” The one major power thing that happened was one of my therapists said, “You could start walking.” I was like, “No, I can’t.” He put me on a bench and said, “Get up and follow me.” I said, “I can’t.” He turned around and said, “I can, I shall, I will. Come on, let’s do it.” I did, and I was able to get up and start walking like a person again versus without an apparatus a chair or whatever and from then on step-by-step.

You have to believe in yourself. Click To Tweet

Tony reached out to you after seeing some of the videos that you had been posting on the internet. What were the videos that you did?

We did a quick one. We introduce my story and we introduce other people. It’s a way for us to connect with the community and like minds suffering a stroke suffering mental issues or physical issues. The group just built and we started with a good friend of mine Nick, who works with us now. I was getting down. I was like, “There are only three people watching this.” Nick kept saying, “Keep going.” It turned into hundreds and thousands and sooner than later, Tony Boudia reached out to me and says, “You changed my life.” His wife found him on the floor basically dead. If she wouldn’t have called 911, he would never be here right now. The big part of the journey is the rehab and the fight to come back. It’s a story of Rocky. It’s not a matter of you winning, it’s a matter of how many times you get knocked down and get back up. Tony inspired me. He inspired me to keep going, to keep on with the show, interview him and not just him but his wife, Vicki, who is such a support for him. It takes the village to heal us.

Tony reaches out to you. He sees the segments that you started doing called 5 Minutes with Seany and you would have guests on not just stroke warriors but people who have overcome traumatic injuries, traumatic brain injuries. Who’ve overcome all these obstacles despite the fact that they were told by medical professionals that they weren’t ever going to be able to do whatever it is they were doing before the accident. You’ve been posting these videos, 5 Minutes with Seany, to try to give inspiration to people who find you in your support groups and Tony finds you. He reaches out to you and tells you how he was inspired by you and then you became inspired by him. You inspired each other. What were some of the things that you remember along the way getting to know each other after Tony reached out to you?

I remember he called me on the way to work the first day. He can drive and he’s driving over 100 miles a day to get to work there and back and he’s got a big job. Tony is in charge of the HR for a billion-dollar bank. Here’s a guy who is dependent on everything and then he’s driving now back to work. He’s independent again. The big piece of the show was about showing how people can regain their independence. The problem of the show is it’s only five minutes and Tony has so much to say that we built the show into this podcast.

Tony, you reached out to Sean. You form a relationship and you share stories about what it’s like to get through every day as you’re recovering and regaining your life after stroke. What were some of the things you shared with Sean?

First of all, he was just like, “How do we do things again?” People say you had a stroke and that doesn’t define me. We’re like, “How do we act? How do we do things?” Our emotions are running so high because of what’s happened to us. Sean was like, “I had learned how to open a jar again, how to do these things.” We started talking about those things and then to do that, I had to go back to work. How do I handle this?

You have a story about what you did before you went back to work. You called Sean because you were scared.

It was like, “How are people going to view me? I was like, “How do we deal with this?”

AIH 4 | After A Stroke

After A Stroke: We can heal ourselves through our brain through the power that we have.

 

What do you mean? You were worried about what they were going to see?

At first, I was just getting to 100 miles an hour at work and all of a sudden, I’m walking at a very slow speed or having to watch how I do things. I don’t fall on those things. You just have to have that motivation and have somebody behind you coaching, “You can do it. I can, I shall, I will.” It worked out great. If I wouldn’t have that, I would have turned around and come home and say, “Let’s do it another day.”

I kicked his ass. I said, “You’re going to work.” I knew exactly what was going to happen. Being someone who’s been out of work or society for months, you change. We come back, we’re able-bodied, we’re running, we’re jumping, and we look great. When we go away for months in time and you haven’t regained everything depending on that level. The biggest thing that we face is the act of looking good. That is when people look at me and noticed my limp, my weak arm, or how do I feel and how do I see. They all looked at him, they clapped, and they welcomed him in with open arms because he inspired them. It’s the ripple effect of what we can do for so many others.

Tony, what did you feel when all of your employees there applauded you?

They opened the door and were like, “It’s great to have you back.” Sean and I joked about all of this. They go, “You look so good.” I was like, “We looked better before the stroke.” You can’t help to joke about it. Everyone was very welcoming and very accommodating. The good thing is a lot of people don’t say, “Tell me about the story. What happened?” We don’t want to keep relieving that. It was almost like back to normal, but I can see that people would watch out to make sure if I was walking too fast, but it was good. People say, “How are you doing now?” I was like, “My life is back to normal except for other deficits with my arm and my leg.” With time, it’s going to get better. You just got to give it time.

You got the confidence quickly to continue on at work. You were apprehensive and scared and I don’t think anyone can blame you for those feelings jumping back in. You got tremendous support from your co-workers and Sean and you kept going. You keep going with the relationship.

He checked in with me all the time. It was exhausting for me to keep up with the shows and keep going and he would call me and say, “I’ve been back to my therapist. I’ve been back to the hospital. You got to keep the shows going.” Tony told me a story about someone from the UK came through the rehab and they were watching the shows and he said, “You are well-known now in England.”

During therapy when they were talking about the 5 Minutes with Seany show, the hospital that I was out was doing some interns from Europe. They were like, “How have you come so far in a short amount of time?” It’s true that I can, I shall, I will. It’s just doing it and not saying no. My therapist was talking about the show and all of a sudden, he pulls his laptop out and we start looking at things. It was like, “Why isn’t this on WebMD? Why aren’t we doing more?” I said, “This isn’t part of the hospital. This is an internet segment that I found from a person that has gone through what I’ve gone and look where they’re at.”

It's not a matter of you winning, it's a matter of how many times you get knocked down and get back up. Click To Tweet

You and Sean both had similar experiences when you were in the hospital. You were both told that you were not going to be able to walk again and drive again and do all these other things as if it was just so clinical. No hope was given to either of you and in a strange way that became very motivating for both of you. How did it motivate you, Tony?

I was like, “This is going to be my new norm. It’s not going to happen.” The thing is we see people that go into the, “Woe with me. This is my new life and I’m trying to deal with it.” You’re going to find the fighters like Sean that say, “This isn’t going to be my new norm. I’m going to move forward and I’m going to go back to doing things that I enjoy doing.” The therapist that I had kicked my butt. They started at 7:00 AM until late afternoon. They pushed and pushed. It was fine seeing them transition the, “I can, I shall, I will,” idea onto others. I’m in the therapy room and I’m watching these people sit in their wheelchairs going, “What am I going to do? This is terrible.” I was there a month ago and it was just getting this out.

The one question that was pointed to me was, “Where do you think you’d be now if you didn’t find 5 Minutes with Seany?” That’s a scary question because I was angry. I was not motivated because this sucks. Life does not seem to be the same. It’s an interesting question that people need to pose themselves. We need to share this mantra. We need to get this out to the people that are not finding hope. It’s like, “Look at us. Look what we’ve done.” It’s not by taking a pill, it’s not by doing surgery, it’s by healing ourselves through our brain through the power that we have.

It isn’t focused on at all when you’re working with the medical professionals at least in your case and Sean’s case. Sean also had an experience too when he was in the hospital after the stroke that motivated him as well.

The first woman who saw me in San Diego said, “You may not walk for eight years. Don’t think about getting back to work. Your speech will be off.” I’ll never forget the neuropsychiatrist who met with me who pissed me off and got me in reverse, got me to be back because I got angry. Once you’re so far down the rabbit hole and you’re paralyzed, you’re immobile, there’s something inside that clicks in us that drives. It’s that inspiration for my two girls of my life to regain. Tony is similar to having a son and a wife who inspired him to want to be better.

You both were looking for some direction and not just, “This is it. This is your life.” You were looking for some glimmer of hope to at least get you on the path.

People often ask me on my show, “Can you drive again? How do you do this? How do you do that?” I said, “You got to be able to open the car, be able to put on your seatbelts.” I learned in a golf cart first because I’d be on the golf course on my left to my right. Tony called me one day and said, “Thank God you did that video on the driving because if I had locked myself in the seatbelt, I would have fallen out of the car.”

It’s about the how-tos and that’s where these shows came into play saying, “What can you do? How do you do it?” The one, two, three is just the basics.

AIH 4 | After A Stroke

After A Stroke: Having a stroke means you have no filters sometimes.

 

The basics we take for granted like buckling a seatbelt, opening a car door, unbuckling a seat belt. I knew shortly after dating Sean why everything in the house had pumps for lids as opposed to having to unscrew all these lids. It’s all these little things you just don’t think about.

The biggest one for me I was telling Sean about is opening a water bottle for the first time. I would hold the bottle with my affected hand which almost had superhuman strength now that it had a stroke. The first thing I did is when I opened it up, I had to go change my shirt. Everything is squeezed. It blew up in my face. Those are the things we need to share, how to do things.

Getting through the day to day stuff, you started realizing all those things that you took for granted in the past and you started to have to make modifications. Did that draw any anger or sadness from you or did you just go with the flow?

The biggest downplay was, one day I’m getting my independence and my wife would start going back to work. I was making some breakfast and I dropped a bunch of blueberries on the ground and I couldn’t just bend over and pick them up. I had to get out and sit on the floor and pick this up. I’m thinking, “Is this my life? This sucks. This is not going to happen. This is not going to be who I am. It’s not going to define me.” From that point out I was like, “I’m just going to push it. I’m going to deal with this. I’m not going to get better. I don’t care what they say.” I appreciate the medical world and all of that but they don’t understand. It’s not about taking a pill or doing surgery, it’s about healing yourself. That’s what I did after that blueberry episode. I was like this, “This is not going to happen.”

He’s talking about having the mindset to focus and drive hard and to push through it because you hit those times where you’re rock bottom. Tony, your left side is weak. It’s healing and the left side is the side affected with the stroke.

It’s the dexterity in fine-tuning with picking up things. It’s to make sure to pick my knee up, how I walk, to make sure I correct those things. One thing that you had on one of your shows is you were talking about using tools and making things. One of my relatives made this little block with me with some bolts through it and I would pick those nets and spin them on, spin them off every day for months. Little by little, it got faster and faster and I was able to get it all going and still fine-tuning that one day it will be better.

It’s amazing to what you can do to motivate yourself when you have to. You took an opportunity of something you would do in everyday life and did it over and over again. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

Talking from a stroke perspective, we’ve got to have something. The 5 Minutes with Seany, that was a motivator to do something. I saw other people within the hospital who were doing, “I can, I shall, I will.” Something’s got to lay people up and that’s what motivated me to get this started. I’m afraid what it would be like because I could be one of those people sitting there going, “Woe with me. I just can’t get motivated. This is terrible.”

Once you're so far down the rabbit hole and you're paralyzed, you're immobile, there's something inside that clicks in us that drives. Click To Tweet

How do you and Sean find the patience to do these things over and over again? I can imagine that there are going to be some times of serious frustration.

You’re learning something all over again. I’m 39 at the time and my brain is that of a three-year-old kid. You don’t have a choice. There’s not an elective where, “Maybe I’ll go to the gym or maybe I won’t.” This becomes something that is necessary in our lives every day now. It’s no longer an elective. It’s a requisite. It’s like paying your car bill or your phone bill. You have to get up. You have to do therapy. You have to reprogram everything.

I’m sure there are times when you say things like, “Why do I have to do this? Why was my life changed like this?” I would imagine it’s a normal response.

What was it like having intimacy with your wife? Are you able to? Do things still work? We laugh about it but it’s a serious question that people often don’t want to talk about.

It truly is. This is a funny one and I’ll say this in the most appropriate way. When I was in the hospital, in front of the doctor but I don’t remember asking this. My wife to this day says she remembers it. I asked the doctor, “Will Mr. Happy ever work again?” My wife said she was so embarrassed. Having a stroke, you have no filters sometimes. We’ve got a little brain damage but it’s through emotions, through the things. We’ve been to a serious situation and who cares if we blurted out and just like Sean and I had a talk about having to go to the restroom while you were in the hospital. It’s not the most private thing you can do. It’s like, “Sean, how do you get through this?”

Sean told me that he asked the same question when he was able to regain some of his ability to see where he was and what was going on. He told me that one of his first questions was the same thing. If I were a man, I might ask the same thing too.

I’ll never forget the day that my nurse or PT put on my bathroom door, “Sean can now go poop all by himself.” I was like, “Why would they have to put that up for the whole hospital to see?” I’m having friends come in and some of my guy friends are military guys, they’re Navy SEALs, they’re marines and the first thing they saw was, “Sean, you graduated going to the bathroom yourself.” I was like, “Thanks. This makes me feel good.” It’s the small gains that allow us to gain the momentum to be back to being independent again. What I keep saying is the fact that Tony Boudia was able to get in a car and drive to work is something. They counted us out. You can’t count us out because there’s so much there. If you believe in it and you see it, you’re going to achieve all those goals. That’s how life works for real.

You also told me that you found out pretty quickly that toilet paper wasn’t an option. You had to switch to wipes because when you try to pull a roll of toilet paper with one hand the whole thing comes down.

AIH 4 | After A Stroke

After A Stroke: Doctors don’t deal with miracles. There is room for hope without having to worry that it’s going to come back to bite someone as a physician or a physical therapist.

 

You’re sitting there and have a moment all by yourself and all of a sudden you spilled the toilet paper all over the floor. You ran out of it and now what do you do? I relearned how to reuse flushable wipes with the push of a button. You get acclimated.

You are adjusting to make it work for you.

What’s interesting is the brain still says, “You could pick things up. Everything works normally.” It’s just that when you go to do it, it doesn’t. That’s the tough thing. You can’t explain that. It’s too hard.

What is your why? What are you inspired by right now?

Life. Overnight, it was taken away. You wake up and you’re in a bed. You can’t get up, you can’t move your arms and you can’t do anything, but I’ve got a great family and grandkids to come. Just a lot.

That’s certainly motivating. You got a wife and you got kids and looking forward to grandkids.

He still has his Harley parked in his driveway. He wants to still ride it.

There was a person that friended me on a stroke group and we started talking about StrokeHacker and 5 Minutes with Seany. He’s riding again after seven years.

It's amazing to what you can do to motivate yourself when you have to. Click To Tweet

I didn’t ride before my stroke. I am not sure how I would do now, but it sounds fun.

Driving was the first and second thing now is trying to go back into bicycling.

These are the things that you can focus on and work at it until you get there. What would you say is the biggest thing missing from the medical care? There’s no doubt that Western medicine and these doctors saved your lives and there were a lot of things you did that have contributed to your progress. What would you say was missing from that?

The first thing is I appreciate the medical field greatly, but the thing is they don’t understand. People are saying, “You’re a textbook. You and Sean are textbook-type people. These things aren’t supposed to happen the way it works.” I’m going to call it old school. Now you’re looking at people like Sean and I who say, “I can, I shall, I will,” and many others that are working through motivation more than anything versus taking the pill or surgeries. They just don’t understand it or for someone to say, “How does it feel?” You can’t explain how the body feels. I don’t feel weak. My brain says everything is normal but the body’s not allowing it to connect and do it.

You said something poignant because you and I have talked before many times that you were in Sean’s life. You said something that stuck with me and that was the doctors don’t sell the idea of miracles. I understand and you can understand too. I would be maybe apprehensive as a physician to be giving false hope to people but you both agree that there is room for hope without having to worry that it’s going to come back to bite someone as a physician or a physical therapist.

They teach you things in the hospital about the physical side of things, but they don’t prepare you for the mental side. It’s no one’s fault but they just don’t know because they’re not going to live through it. The amount of mental anguish and getting yourself ready for what’s about to occur is everything. You’re going to have your good days and you’re going to have your bad days. When the bad days hit us, that affects us even worse because our nervous system is also damaged in a bit. We’re always in the fight of light. Tony and I, because we’re fighters, because we’re doers, because we’re Alpha guys, we want to be out there and we want to be back in the public. We want to be back giving and providing for our families.

It could be challenging. It could sink your whole mindset and ruin your day or whatever it’s going to be. What people don’t understand is what we talked about a tie on this line. During my sniper, it’s the transition from going into the military and then going out again. It’s the same thing for us. We’re in battle. Tony and I are in a battle for days and weeks at a time and then we can transition back to home or we transition back to society or back to work. No one teaches us to get back to it because we’re so used to work routine in the hospital or in therapy. We don’t even know how to work back our way into society. It’s no one’s fault on this but if we could show the world what we’re going through or help us with the mental-emotional pain, it would be much better for us.

You both have said it would be great if someone in the hospital who’s treating you and helping you and your family just says something like, “This is what we’re dealing with right now but there is hope.” Do you think that’s all that needs to be said? It sounds to me that both of you never even got those words.

AIH 4 | After A Stroke

After A Stroke: People choose to be extraordinary. It’s not being ordinary. It’s being on top of that and go in the distance for it.

 

I was talking to a therapist that I know from a personal standpoint through a connection. I’m not a doctor but they don’t teach the miracle process during medical school because everything is based on science. The thing is we’re talking about percentages of the miracles that just therapists have seen or people like Sean and I that have come out of these or things like that. I understand why they can’t say things but mine was like, “This is about the best you’re going to get within your first six months.” I’ve heard that many times when I was in the hospital even from some of my favorite therapists. That’s their rule of thumb, their gauge, their theories. I was talking to naturopath talks about the miracle theory on how things happened.

You look at sports people who were the beads or the bands and they perform better. Is it the titanium or whatever? Who knows? It’s about those miracle theories that we don’t hear about. We hear about everything else, how you’re probably not going to do that? How are you going to have to accommodate? How are your lives going to be? It’s so interesting but we do need to have at least 2%. There could be a positive outcome of this. Look at the stroke of luck when you think about it. I’m a much nicer person and I’m a little more laid back now because I look at life more different and that’s not a bad thing.

That’s a great perspective on taking what happened to you and turning it into something positive. You feel like you’re a better person. I would feel so defeated in the hospital if any medical professional told me, “This is as good as it’s going to get in the next six months. This is all you’re going to be able to do.” I’m not there and I wasn’t there with you, but it makes me angry now to hear that you were told those words.

I keep saying this. It’s the belief in yourself. It’s the belief to go further and to make it happen. It’s not the therapist’s fault and it’s not the doctor’s fault, it’s just based on what they know. If we can get the message out to these people who are the rehabbing through a traumatic event, just believe in it and believe in yourself and it will get better and keep pushing forward. Keep moving and keep proving you will get better. It doesn’t matter if it’s days or weeks or years. I’m living proof of that. I’m seven years post and I’m still getting better.

Anybody would agree that getting better whether you’ve had a stroke or not is a lifelong process. Whether or not you’ve got a stroke, it’s something that we all have to do.

I’m a straightforward person and when I talk about miracles, they told me that I would never regain feeling in parts of my body. It was about a month ago and I put my foot on a cold floor and all of a sudden, I started feeling this weird burning. All of sudden, within an hour or two, I regain complete sensitivity on my left side foot.

How many years out again are you from the stroke?

A year and a half.

Out of the blue, it came back in that part.

Something stimulated. All of a sudden there’s this tickling thing and I almost peed myself. There was so much sensitivity and they never thought that would come back. What it felt was like a light electrical current. All of sudden I can feel the bottom of my foot again.

These little miracles happen with you all the time.

Yes, they do, and they still happen if you believe in it.

The thing is if we make it through some of the little combinations we have to do in life and that’s the worst thing, that’s not that bad.

What are some of the things that both of you still deal with? The mental and emotional challenges that you deal with when it comes to the stroke?

It’s finding the moments that are bad and that suck to get out and find your way out of those
and you get back.

Even seven years out, you’re saying you still have those days.

The years after the certain dates, certain things, memories pictures of the old me, the pictures before the stroke and things that I remember, it brings me back to going, “I used to be able to do that and was able to do this.” You go back into, “What about me now?” You start to question yourself and they happen and they’re frequent. It’s all about how you deal with those moments to get through those again into the good moments.

For me, it’s like, “What’s my future like? What is it going to be like when I am older if I don’t get better now? Am I going to hold grandkids or pick things up or mow the lawn? Each day gets better whether I flip a light switch or pick something up. It’s that that motivation you use cannot fall into that whole, “Woe with me. My life sucks.” For me, I’ve got a great resource. It’s funny we joke, “If I’m not doing something right, she would call Sean.” We do get into this funk and we get irritated. It’s frustrating. I couldn’t get one of the loops on my belt on and I was like, “Can you help me?” She says, “Don’t get frustrated. Keep trying and you’ll do it.” I did. Sometimes you need that little pickup.

You have to accept yourself at that place in time. The problem with that is we don’t accept ourselves as being average. We want to be extraordinary and we can’t accept ourselves that we’re being average. It’s through those times that we want to keep excelling and keep going. That’s who we are and that’s what got us here. People choose to be extraordinary. It’s not being ordinary, it’s being on top of that and going the distance for it.

The stroke of luck things from me slowed my wife my life down all of it. That’s a great thing. Do I appreciate things more? Of course, I do. That’s all about it and I made friends like Sean and my therapist. At the end of the day, this was a bad thing. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody, but the thing is I’m a better person now. I’m more motivated by certain things that I am now where before I’d rather go out riding my bike than go to a movie with my wife.

I love that you look at the positive effects. After a stroke, both of you have had your lives changed but also for the better in some ways. You pointed out Tony. I would imagine that both of your lives are perfect, but nobody’s life is perfect and you still deal with some of the emotions even to this day. You’re not trying to make it sound like everything is candy-coated, perfect, and wonderful again and you’re just a little different physically. It’s a challenge all the time.

We’re human and we feel things. We’re doing great and I’m blessed to have met him. Had I not had my stroke or never had met Tony and we won’t be doing all this stuff. It’s about accepting who we are now and being in love with ourselves and checking our ego to be okay with where we’re at the moment.

Tony, thank you so much for being with us. I can’t thank you enough for being so open. It takes a lot of courage too to talk about things like wondering whether or not you’re going to have sex again or what it’s like to go to the bathroom again after a stroke and all the little things that you never thought of before. It takes courage and it takes letting your guard down and letting people in. That’s what’s needed to get other people up to the level that you and Sean are at right now. Granted, you are a couple of years out and Sean is seven years out. It takes time but you’re letting down your walls to let people in and let them know that it’s okay to go through these things. Thank you for exposing your feelings and your emotions and everything you’ve gone through.

Thank you. It’s my morale and my mojo.

We love your mojo.

Yes, we do.

Let’s keep up with I can, I shall, I will and keep sharing. How many people do you think you’ve touched through the 5 Minutes with Seany just sharing your story? People in my work life who have tragedies or their children or those things and the stories that I hear from I can, I shall, I will. It blows me away.

We’re going to continue to hear those stories too on this show with many people in many different situations. Tony Boudia, thank you so much for being with us and remember guys as Tony and Sean would say, I can, I shall, I will.

Thanks, Tony.

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About Tony Boudia

AIH 4 | After A Stroke

Tony Boudia is an employment officer for Columbia Bank with years of experience working in the professional corporate world.