If you’re reading this, odds are you know former senior Intel exec Sean Maloney had a devastating stroke, but achieved a nearly full recovery from this stroke and was able to train for a ride across America. (Pretty inspiring, right?) But you may not know how. Sean’s wife Margaret shares her recollections of this recovery.
Sensory Stimulation from Things Beloved
One of the most challenging thing for the stroke survivor is that while the body and brain have changed, with its ability to communicate and act, the mind and soul are still the same and deeply crave stimulation and satisfaction. Key things that worked for us to keep connected to Sean during the early days were bringing him music he loved, wonderful smelling and tasting food, and interesting news and information (news from Intel and the industry). And of course, the sight, feel and smell of our family, especially our sweet baby girls.
It was music and a technique called Melodic Intonation that first helped Sean communicate by singing/tapping “I Love You” to me. As he began therapy to regain speech, it was reading and discussing the Wall Street Journal with his colleagues that gave him the spark to push through challenging exercises. (The rote exercises on material that did not have inherent interest was very frustrating and not as effective!)
It was his beloved rowing that motivated his physical rehabilitation. But rowing on a machine didn’t give the same feedback for balance and coordination that a live boat did, so he found support and encouragement to make that a part of his routine.
Spiritual Support and Hope
Sean and I are blessed with a very broad network of people who care deeply for us. The Intel family was there for us, and even when most tired and overwhelmed, we welcomed every visit, ever offer of help. Our worldwide network included people of many faith backgrounds; people prayed for Sean in churches, synagogues and mosques around the world. I was given instructions on meditation by the great Deepak Chopra which greatly helped me to take in all this goodness.
Even though Sean doesn’t follow a specific spiritual tradition, we know that all of this was instrumental in the recovery. Another person I want to call out as giving us a very specific sort of hope... Dr. Marion Buckwalter, who shared a great outcome based upon the unexpected recovery of one of her previous patients - a type A personality CEO who was able to get back in the saddle despite the severity of her stroke. Being able to envision this was very helpful to Sean.
A Goal - And a Calling
As mentioned above, Sean felt that rowing was something that he could reconnect with to guide his body’s recovery. To keep focused and motivated, he chose a goal - being able to row The Head of the Charles. He also had a very clear and present goal; to Intel and carry out the unfulfilled promise there was deeply motivating for recovering speech.
But he also discovered a new calling. He believed he could prevent other people and families from going through this experience - and this is what has led him to today; leading the Silicon Valley branch of the American Heart Association and creating Heart Across America.
If you feel a calling in this area, please join us. The website has resources on stroke recovery, ways to support the current Heart Across America biking, and of course, an invitation to stay connected with us via our email list or social media. Your actions matter!