Anniversary thoughts

What were you doing three years ago today? You probably can't remember, if you're honest about it. And if I'm honest about it, neither can I.

But I can tell you that it was the last day of what I now consider to have been the first part of my life. Because at just after 3pm on December 16 2013, three years ago tomorrow as I write, I suffered my stroke.

Until that moment, I considered my life to be completely normal. Sure, I was wildly stressed, worrying about how to fill the enormous hole that had suddenly opened up in the finances at Warrillow Towers. But I was relatively fit for a 49-year-old; I saw my GP every six months or so and got a clean bill of health.

After that moment, I was left to deal with the new perspective on life which comes from collapsing in the road and nearly being run over by a bus. I had to face the fact that I was brain-damaged for the rest of my life and would begin a long, painful and difficult battle to re-discover how to walk, to write, to eat, to think.

But in that moment, The Warrior was born. I could have given up and spent the rest of my life, however long that was, doing nothing. But I wasn't like that; so I entered a world of arguing and battling with bureaucracy for my rights as a disabled person. I began gathering hundreds, if not thousands, of new friends; some who were in the same position as I was and others who were simply able to empathise with it.

I decided I was going to become an advocate for stroke-awareness and education. I was going to start training to be a counsellor, specialising in helping stroke-survivors and their carers. I would work to make people aware of the dangers of the stress which work can create; to make people aware of the need to have a financial plan for dealing with the life-changing event "which will never happen to me" but which could actually happen to you now, today, this minute and alter your life forever, as it has altered mine.

I thought I was pretty good at dealing with stress. The brain-damaged me gets stressed in busy supermarkets, on busy traffic roundabouts, in crowded streets, if I have to think of too many things at once.

But in many ways, the disabled me is a better person. I have a clearer understanding of the importance of living life to the full. Of being grateful for waking up every morning with all four limbs operating relatively normally.

And I'm grateful for being let off relatively lightly by my stroke. I have plenty of friends who have been left with little or no sensation down one side; who struggle to speak; who struggle to talk. I learnt this week of a teenage friend who has been left with no peripheral vision.

And three years ago today, I wouldn't have dreamed that I could stand up in front of rooms full of people and tell my story. On Saturday, the day after my third anniversary, I will do a Facebook Live broadcast about it to thousands of members of 4Networking, the business networking group of which I am a member.

I expect 2017 to be the year in which I carve out a career in public speaking. That wouldn't have happened without the events of December 16 2013.

You don't need to have a faith to believe that things happen for a reason. I believe I survived the stroke and the near-miss with the bus for a reason. And I will prove it in 2017.