Stroke Smart Magazine
CHAMPION OF HOPE
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Walter SteinlaufBy Jeannie Price
You Are Not Alone
On September 14, 2005, after another 10-hour workday, Walter Steinlauf came home to his wife and son and began to prepare dinner. Reaching under the stove for a pan, Walter experienced severe dizziness and a suddenly, stabbing headache. He didn’t know it at the time but he was having a stroke. After three weeks in intensive care and additional inpatient recovery time, Walter was released from the hospital, determined to return to his career in human resources and resume life as he knew it.
Walter’s comeback wasn’t easy. Like many stroke survivors, he needed physical, speech, cognitive and occupational therapy. After months of hard work, Walter returned to work but found that things were very different. In addition to the physical and mental challenges he was still working to overcome, he struggled with depression and self doubts. His coworkers didn’t understand him; they didn’t understand how the stroke had affected him. Eventually, Walter accepted that life would never be the same and he left his job.
After months of contemplating his worth in life, Walter had a revelation. He knew at that moment that he must begin living his way to survival. This was not an intellectual decision but a willingness of spirit, he says.
These days, you will find Walter busy volunteering in the survivor community, working as a survivor’s advocate focused on legislative correspondence, medical insurance issues, education, and research. You will also find him online, encouraging and educating stroke survivors on the social networking site that he created earlier this year. Through the Stroke Survivors Advocacy Network, he encourages survivors to take responsibility for their survival by participating in therapy, support groups, and self education.
“It is our burden to be there for the next desperate survivor seeking love, understanding, support, and encouragement,” says Walter, who personally welcomes each new member and responds to every comment.
Once upon a time, Walter felt isolated and lost and couldn’t find the resources he needed for his stroke recovery journey. Today, he connects stroke survivors to the tools that can help them in their journey and makes sure they never feel completely alone.
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