8 July 2014... what should have been an ordinary, normal day ended in despair.

    I had had a sleepless night and got up early thinking that a walk in the garden would bring some relief. Unfortunately, not. Then I went back to bed to get some sleep. Until I suddenly woke up and had a strange feeling in the right arm. It felt like it was no longer part of my body. Soon enough I knew what was going on: I was dealing with a CVA, also called stroke or cerebral infarction.

    I quickly called my family and explained what was going on. The ambulance was sent to me. I was able to get in myself and asked to be taken to the hospital of my choice. This didn't happen, because you're taken to the nearest hospital. Once there, I was immediately able to indicate what was going on and I asked for an injection of a blood-thinning agent to solve the so-called blood clot. They had to do further examination, and a scan was needed. In the end a lot of time went by and they couldn't deduce much from the scan.

    I was told I needed to stay in the hospital. I wanted to be transferred to the hospital where my wife worked.

    When I arrived at the other hospital, I couldn't stand on my feet anymore. Things went really fast there. Immediately I was taken away to take MRI images and soon the verdict was there: a white spot in the brain. A stroke. A sign that that part had died. The time window for treatment with a blood-thinning agent had expired and this was therefore no longer possible. Your world collapses. Why did so much precious time have to be lost? A stay in the hospital for further examinations was necessary. By the evening it was clear: I could no longer move my right arm and leg. The investigations revealed that a hole in my heart was probably the cause of the stroke.

    Rehabilitation was in store for me, so I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital. Here I came into contact with fellow sufferers with whom I could quickly build a good relationship.

    Thanks to my motto "I can, I want, I have to" I remained in position and I focused on therapy. After 4 months I was discharged from the rehabilitation hospital, but this didn't mean that the rehabilitation was finished. I was able to undergo therapy in another rehabilitation centre. This also came to an end after 5 months and I was forced to find another solution. I found further rehabilitation with an occupational therapist in the area, someone who was familiar with patients with a stroke.

    In the meantime, I had already decided that sitting in a corner wouldn't be a solution. One day, because my wife was attending fitness classes, I asked her if they had a programme for people with an NAH disorder there as well. Right away, I was invited to come and see a trial session. All in all, this wasn't too bad, and a subscription was quickly arranged. Thanks to that fitness, I restored the muscle mass I had lost to a reasonable level in a relatively short time.

    At home, I didn't get stuck either. I had found a quantity of candle scraps that my wife had planned to re-melt. I was wondering, why shouldn't I be able to do this? I received some basic elements as a gift, and I started making candles. It is not easy to do this because I'm very limited in using my right arm. Nevertheless, I persisted and now, especially during the dark months, this has become a good way to spend time.

    However, I still had a problem. Would I still be able to perform my favourite hobby, photography? It was obvious that this was no longer possible, but I still hoped to be able to do so again. Until that day ... It was a friend's birthday and together with my wife and a third person we had set up a surprise. Secretly I had put my photo bag in the car that day. Eventually I was able to discover on that fantastic day that I'm still able to take pictures again. It's difficult, and it takes a lot of willpower and perseverance. You have to be prepared for a lot of photos to fail, but perseverance and willpower in combination with tools have made it possible for me to practice this hobby properly again.

    A few months ago, I spent a few days with my wife at De Hoge Veluwe in the Netherlands. A visit to the National Park De Hoge Veluwe was a must, of course. When I bought my tickets and announced that I had a disability, I was immediately asked if I didn't want to reserve a modified bike. I didn't think this was a bad idea. Cycling, it was worth trying. I was told that they had a tricycle, electric and new, ready. And indeed, a new tricycle bike was ready. On the beautifully landscaped paths, through nature, this was a unique experience. I soon knew: I still want to do this. Now I'm bursting to buy a bike like this myself.

    Marc after his stroke with his tricycle

    What I want to decide is that you don't resign yourself to the thought that you can't do it anymore, but try it, because you won't lose anything from trying it. Even if it’s trial and error, just do it. It gives you a reason to try other things and you also have more social contacts.

    My slogan is "I have a limitation, but that limitation may not limit my life".

    All the best,