The Stroke That Saved My Life

    My name is Joseph Borges, but my friends call me Joe. Today I turn 40 years old and in the last year of my 30s, I survived a stroke. August 4, 2016, I suffered a high blood pressure induced hemorrhagic stroke. My blood pressure was so high it caused a vessel in my brain to burst. I remember the exact moment I had the stroke. I was on my way to watch my girlfriend (the incredible singer/songwriter, Felice LaZae) perform like I have so many times before. I had a migraine leading up to the show. That wasn’t uncommon. I’ve suffered from terrible migraines most of my adult life. There didn’t seem to be anything different or special about this one until it happened - I had a fucking stroke.  It felt like an electric shock. I once put a key into a wall socket as a child and the shock I felt thru my hand and down my arm during that incident is what I felt thru my entire body the moment I had my stroke. Every muscle in my body turned to jelly. I don’t remember very much after that.  I just tried to go about things like I would normally which was to pretend that I was ok even though I was in a lot of pain. I do remember struggling to walk. I felt like I was learning to walk. It was almost like a baby deer taking its first steps. I remember watching the show and having a beer and then after that I have zero recollection of the next few weeks. 

I don’t even remember waking up. I just hear stories of what happened the days that followed - stories of how difficult it was to get me to go to the hospital. By the time, I gave in to my family’s pleas for me to get checked out, I had to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. The emergency room is where my family found out the terrible news that this wasn’t just a regular migraine or what they thought was possibly dehydration from food poisoning. I can’t for the life of me remember any of it. To be honest, I only started to become completely coherent 3 months ago. I have some memory of the months before that, but for the most part I’ve only been more “me” again for the last few months. Let me rephrase that. I’ve been a better version of me for the last few months. 

So how did I get here? I’ll start by saying that I was raised Catholic. That might speak volumes to some, but for others, let me explain. Being raised Catholic by a Puerto Rican mother is to be raised to keep all of your issues and stresses to yourself. If you have a problem with a friend or family member, you’re taught to not talk to them about it, but to just bury it deep inside. My mother was raised to fear God. That fear turned into anxiety and that was passed onto me. I never knew what to do with my feelings except to hide them deep down and move forward. I never knew how to handle things correctly and how to process my feelings and thoughts. I never knew how to deal with the physical and mental abuse I endured as a child from my sperm donor or the abuse I saw my mother take from him. I was never taught how to process the everyday struggles we went through after she finally broke away from that abusive man. All I knew was that I shouldn’t burden others with my issues. That didn’t change when I became an adult. It went on like that until the stress and pain erupted and and had to be drained out of my brain. 

So here I am now, changed by this whole experience of surviving a stroke. Changed for the better.  I’m ready to live.  I don’t want to just survive, I want to thrive.  I would like to share my story to inspire those who have suffered a similar experience.  And I’d like to start sharing my overall thoughts, voice and perspective with the world.  I will be talking a lot about my journey to good physical and mental health, but I’m also going to be talking about and sharing my opinions on the things I’m passionate about like video games, movies, sports, music and everything nerdom in between.  I always say 90% of what I say is for my own entertainment (which it is!), but if I can make one person laugh or help someone get through their day to day struggles by sharing what I’ve learned about living life and living it well, then I’m one step closer to paying it forward with this gift of life that I’ve been granted and that sounds like a pretty good way to kick off this new decade and chapter of my life.