It’s one thing to have a stroke in an urban center surrounded by hospitals and ambulances. It’s another experience altogether when you’re at a snowy ski resort in a remote Canadian town. You can’t call the caretaker because you are the caretaker, and your only connection to the outside world is a Satellite phone you left in the office. That was June Hawkins’ experience as the dark specter of high blood pressure unleashed a cavalcade on emboli into her brain. In this episode, she shares the details of her story and how she’s been writing her way to recovery. If you don’t see the audio player below, click here to go to the original blog post. Click here for a machine-generated transcript Who is June Hawkins? June’s heart has always drawn her towards living life as an adventurer.  She has been a mountain guide, marathon runner and canoeist, mother of two children and program coordinator of a provincial crisis line. But her lifelong passion has always been cross country skiing. She developed and operated what became a one of the most successful ski schools in Canada, attracting skiers from across North America. June possesses the unique ability to make people feel relaxed and welcomed and considers her biggest accomplishment is that of teaching a fearful beginner skier the joy of getting down a hill safely. She had her stroke early in the morning of February 1, 2021. She was living and working for the winter at Nipika Mountain Resort in British Columbia, Canada as the on-site custodian and ski instructor. June says her stroke journey has blessed her with the time and the ability to continue with her other passion: writing. ​June’s recovery journey has provided a rich world from which to write and her hope is to speak to survivors using their language and to educate others about stroke using theirs. Nature of writing June found writing to be a great way to clear her own head. Navigating the world can be more complex after stroke and reducing the noise both coming in from the outside and the noise generated by our own thoughts. Writing can get that stuff out of the way. But where do you start? I find simply writing long to do lists helps, even if I never use the list. It’s a great way to get started. Others find it helpful to write that they don’t know what to write. The approach June takes in her program is to pass out writing prompts. These are questions or topics or themes to get you started. The great thing about writing prompts is that 5 people can get the same prompt and end up writing 7 different things and all of them are on topic. It’s a place to explore your thoughts. With June’s program, participants get to share their writing with other members of their cohort — other brain injury survivors. Since it’s ongoing for a series of weeks, it’s also an opportunity to build relationships across distance with a diverse group of people who still share a major life event in common. And it’s all with the stroke of a pen High Blood Pressure High blood pressure is the silent killer because it doesn’t hurt. You can live with it for years as it slowly stiffens and damages the blood vessels in your heart and brain until a clot forms there, drifts there, or the wall of the vessel fails. The scale of damage high blood pressure does is astounding. In addition to being a leading cause of stroke, heart attack, and, therefore, disability and death at the individual level, it cost countries billions and trillions of dollars in lost productivity and increased health care costs. And you never know it’s happening unless you check. So target 120/80 and work with your doctor to get there. Pick up a home monitor if you don’t already have one. There cheap and may be the key to saving your life or the lives of people you care about. Stoicism June has been spending time diving into the philosophy of the Stoics. Stoicism has a rich tradition extending thousands of years and is underserved by pop culture interpretation of what it means to be stoic. It’s based around four key values: Courage Temperance Justice Wisdom I think it’s easy to see how those values can really come into play after stroke. They inform ways of thinking that can help us get through this new world. Will it work for you? Maybe. You can learn more at Survey Do you have thoughts about the Strokecast as a show? I want to hear about it. Please complete the listener survey at by March 31, 2023 to share your insight. I’d really appreciate it. Hack June cited two hacks for recovery. The first is simply to try typing with your affected side. It’s not easy, but those repeated small motions are just the type of motion you want to get back. The second was to get a TV tray or breakfast-in-bed tray. This is a tray with short legs that you put over your lap. Sure, you could use it for croissants and coffee. June uses it for her computer. By using this platform and a keyboard, she reduces the shoulder and elbow strain that accompanies computer use after stroke. Links Where do we go from here? To learn more about June and her writing workshops, visit Share this episode with someone you know by giving them the link Complete the Strokecast Listener survey at Don’t get best…get better. More thoughts from June

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This post is Copyright: Bill Monroe and June Hawkins | March 5, 2023
Strokecast: The Stroke Podcast for Survivors, Clinicians, Care Partners, and all our Brain Injury Colleagues