Admittedly, my posting has been very sporadic of late (oh, who am I kidding, for the last 3 years...) It has been almost 6 years since my stroke (it will be 6 years on December 8, but I am getting waaay ahead of myself), and it seems that some of the side-effects are becoming a little more apparent to others. My wife has had some people comment to her that I seemed to be having problems swallowing during church awhile ago; others have noticed that I look really tired and I have had some tell me that they have noticed that I am having problems with my left leg being weak from time to time. I fell getting out of bed about 6 months ago and wound up with some pretty bad hip pain. When I went to physical therapy, they noticed that ever since my stroke I have changed the way I walk; when I had to relearn how to walk, I would "kick my left leg out" so that my right leg would not cross over. Over the next 5 years it became second nature to walk with my left leg constantly kicking out. The result is that it effectively makes me walk as if my left leg is shorter. What the physical therapist wants me to do is to force that left leg to come back in line when I walk; that should alleviate the hip pain. In essence, I have to re-learn how to re-learn how to walk. (I had noticed that for a few years people would ask my why I was limping...I did not realize I was limping, but that was the result of my left leg kicking out...) I said all that for this purpose: I think my side-effects are become more noticeable to those around me. I have known ever since my stroke that my deficiencies will one day become more evident. My neurologist told me that those symptoms (left leg weakness, left arm weakness, increased headaches, etc.) are not necessarily new problems; they have always been there but my brain compensates for those deficiencies and makes them seem to be absent. When I over-work my brain, it loses its ability to compensate and those deficiencies become evident. I know that many people will not understand what I am about to say, but those who have dealt with the after effects of a stroke might: this sucks!
A few years ago I was presented with the opportunity to come back to Stratford, Iowa, to First Baptist church, as their pastor; for those of you who have followed this blog for some time, FBC in Stratford was my first pastorate. Let's just say I prayed about it as I was jumping at the opportunity. The church has a parsonage, so I could live there and not have to worry about a houe payment; and I needed to slow down, and this was a part time position (which, as a side note, allowed for me to get a greater disability from the VA than when I was working full time with St. Croix Hospice...) We love Stratford, and absolutely love the church; the people are wonderful and accepted us, again, with open arms. This was, for me, the perfect position: I get to pastor a church I LOVE, I get to do life with people I LOVE, and I have already had the opportunity to do weddings and baptism services for kids (adults now) that I have known their entire lives. IT IS GREAT. The longer I have been here,