It has been 13 months since I had a stroke. Robert McCrumb would say: “It’s a soft, inoffensive word – you stroke a baby or a lover. The term “stroke” is slowly being replaced by “brain attack” in the hope that new language will sponsor a new attitude towards the illness.”
Strokes are lethal, that’s a fact. The chances of it happening to a 36-old guy, singing his heart out, are unthinkable, especially for me because I am that guy. On the 23 of July, last year, I suffered a “brain attack.” It happened whilst I was performing with my brother and with my long-dated friends. He lost his voice and asked me if I could replace him on vocals. That night, I strained my voice (heard a ringing in my right ear) which may have caused the artery in my neck to tear internally (what we call a carotid dissection).
The effects of the stroke came the following afternoon. I found myself suddenly unable to speak. I woke up in bed, as I couldn’t sleep, and went to the arches to say hi to the guys. I opened my mouth, and I sounded like a “golden retriever” like Jill Bolte Taylor(2) describes in her fantastic story of the morning of her stroke. I was unable to speak, write and my right-hand and my right leg had become partially paralysed. It was a bass player’s wet dream… NOT!
It was the start of the battle of my life. And it started with me doing the most enjoyable thing: playing live. It’s so enjoyable that I even tolerated my job as an Account Manager (A Sales Guy!) which made me miserable! But hey, this guy got to eat, and this guy got to spend money in Pulmonic (a band that has 338 likes on Facebook!) on a record, on merch, and on gigs, imagine that! Because it’s what I love, and I love Pulmonic, a power trio who since the stroke happened rehearsed one more time never to play again (Never say never!).
But as a bass player, I suck… Let’s be honest. I wasn’t feeling the confidence that I feel now back then. It took a reverse in my lifestyle to operate that change. I started doing Yoga I do supplements (Fish Oil, Folic Acid, B12, Castor Oil, you name it! I run. I go to the gym. I read books. I play chess (rather unwell I must admit…). I’ll learn a language, maybe Gaelic as I plan to live in Dublin because of Brexit! And, and, and… Juggling!
That’s all to say I enjoy life right now. I have a beautiful wife that’s expecting a child (“You didn’t see that one coming, Filipe!”), I spent most of the time running to places I’ve have never been before, I don’t have a job (Praise the lord!) and I have more patience. I plan on recording a song this month and on going to a festival in the USA wearing a bunny suit (You have to read the story on the Gofundme page)
Was this all a stroke of luck? Only time will tell.
Written by Felipe Fale
Go and check out his Gofundme page for more details on the recovery and effects of stroke and the positive path he is taking in the aftermath.