When you think of having a stroke, 10 bucks says that you imagine a baby boomer sitting down, drinking their afternoon cuppa, maybe a couple of scones with jam and cream (no offense baby boomers), and then boom, they have a stoke.
You may imagine a heavy smoker, kicking back in their la-z-boy after a hard day on the tools, sucking on an afternoon lung buster and boom, they have a stroke.
You may even imagine an elderly person pottering about the garden on a sunny day and boom, they have a stroke.
The last thing you would imagine would be a girl, 24-years-young, hiking up a mountain on the other side of the world and, boom she has a stoke. You don’t imagine that because that’s not what happens to young people, that are clearly full of more life than you and I… does it? It tears my heart out to say it but yes, yes it does.
Meet Emma Gee. At the ripe old age of just 24, Emma’s life was torn apart like a cooked chicken when she was hiking Mt Kinabalu in Malaysia, with a girl friend. Boom, she had a stroke. I won’t go too deep into the details of her stroke of un–luck, pun intended, so I’ll just skim over the top. This will give you a good idea of what’s embedded in her book, Reinventing Emma.
She was diagnosed with a bunch of tangled blood vessels in her brain stem technically labeled an arteriovenous malformation. If you’ve never heard of an arteriovenous malformation, don’t worry because neither had I, but apparently, only five surgeons in the world would go anywhere near it. That’s right, out of the 7-bazillion people in the world, only 5 of them had balls big enough to operate on it. Luckily for Emma, one-fifth of those people were in her home country, Australia.
The surgeon, Professor Michael Morgan, saved her life. If it wasn’t for him, the stroke would have simply killed her but this came at a price. Due to complications Emma now lives with major palsy down right side reducing her to a walking frame for balance. Facial palsy and slurred speech are just the tip of the iceberg in Emma’s life.
I first met Emma Gee back in 2011. I was still heavily involved with Epworth Rehab at the time and one of my therapists connected us as we were both heading in the same, inspirational, direction as motivational speakers. We met up a couple of times and the world pulled us apart in two directions.
A few years went on by and I did my own thing and then I had started to see quite a bit of Emma on social media. This was at the time of the release of her book, ‘Reinventing Emma’, a memoir about her experience as a stroke survivor. This is where you can fill in the gaps that I failed to above. Get yourself a copy here.
Knowing her story, I wanted to get a copy and be inspired. After the read, I knew that this is too good of an opportunity to let go so I arranged to sit down and interview her whilst we sipped on our skinny decaf latte mochaccino things they server up at those Melbourne cafes. The rest of Australia call them coffee’s but we’re to yuppie to call them that.
I wanted to discover the nuts and bolts of her daily grind. The things that drag her motivated ass outta bed each morning. I wanted to find out what she has inside, that most people don’t. What was it about her that said, ‘Fuck it, I will not be defeated’?
Let me paint a picture for you here. Emma has difficulty doing the most simple tasks in life from getting out of bed, to cleaning herself, to preparing a meal, to just walking down the street and grabbing a coffee. Hell, she even had difficulty opening her mouth to spit out the words on this paper. This is a life not one of us would like to live with for just a moment in time, yet her social media is flooded with pictures and video’s of her swimming down at the local pool in the middle of winter. The middle of winter, swimming laps, WTF?
This is something that most people would look at and say, ‘You’ve got to be bloody joking, right’? But Emma lives independently from the shackles of 24-hour care. She lives alone (with her canine friend Herbert of course), cleans herself, gets herself about and makes a living, traveling the country as a motivational speaker. Ha, I’ll have what she’s having thanks, mate.
No… wait on a moment… she travels the world as a motivational speaker, my bad. She recently made it over to New Zealand to do a bunch of presentations to a bunch of people, but the details aren’t important. Who cares about the details; a woman who finds it challenging to simply open her mouth to have a yarn, made her way to another country on her own.
Was it the blue pill or the red pill you had Emma??? Ah stuff it, I’ll have them both thanks mate.
Put the pills aside for now because next week, in Part Two, I’ll go deeper into how Emma actually goes about achieving all that she does in life, from traveling the world, to presenting her keynotes, to handling her mental and physical pain on a daily basis. You don’t want to miss it.
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