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Ed, with the help of his wife, Neva, reflects back over the last twenty months of his life in order that he might provide hope to others that had and will face a life-changing event. "When Ed was able to communicate with me after his stroke, he said to me that when he gets better, he wanted to help others. I told him he was already helping others because of his determination and positive attitude," Neva said.
That day in April when Ed had his stroke, he never made it to the truck. After the ambulance took Ed to Clay County Medical Center, he spent five days there before being transferred. "We are so appreciative of Clay County Medical Center; they did everything right away that needed to be done," Neva said. The seriousness of Ed's stroke set in for Neva when Clay County Medical Center's Speech Pathologist, Brenda Bohnenblust, asked Ed to point to the ceiling and he couldn't because he had no idea what the ceiling was. Ed's stroke had not only inhibited his large and fine motor mobility on his right side; it had also taken away years of his speech and language skills.
After being transferred to Mid America Rehabilitation in Overland Park, Ed began the strenuous rehabilitation process. Initially, Ed couldn't walk, couldn't speak and didn't know who he was or who God was. "One night it came back to me who God was you have no idea how important that was," Ed said. After that, Ed was in constant communication with God. "What do people do that don't know God, because they don't know how much all those prayers helped us."
As time passed, Ed began to realize the battle he would have to fight to overcome. The realization came to him that nearly everything he had learned his entire life was gone. "At that point I found out what I had to do and I said to myself what else do I have to do," Ed said.
Ed also had the best teammate to help him. "I kept telling Ed we are a team and we will get through it," Neva said. From that point on the physical struggles were accompanied by every emotion imaginable. "I have been angry, scared, and everything in between," Ed said.
While at the rehab hospital, Ed really made an impression on Neva. "In Ed's first communication therapy session, the class was asked to say 'Monday' and Ed was the only one who couldn't say it, but he kept trying. I thought to myself would I have kept trying or would I have remained silent," Neva said.
On July 4, 2001, the Andersons returned to Clay Center and Ed continued with physical, occupational and speech therapy at Clay County Medical Center three days a week until May of this year. "The therapy staff at Clay County Medical Center were so willing to try all avenues until they found out what worked best for me," Ed said. Knowing that he would have to work even harder to get better, Ed put in additional time on the days he was in therapy as well as on the days therapy was not scheduled. According to Neva, Ed worked at improving his skills eight hours every day until this May.
According to Brenda Bohnenblust, when Ed began his speech therapy with her in July of 2001, he only had recognition of the letters m, p, and b. Because he had complete loss of phonetics (sounds), he was unable to communicate what he was thinking.
Since May of this year, Ed has been working 2 4 hours a day on his speech and motor skills and continues two days a week with speech therapy at the hospital. Part of Ed's improvement can be attributed to the Wellness & Fitness Center. "It has been a Godsend, I work out there five days a week," Ed said. As Ed spent less time rehabilitating, he and Neva began to return to the things that they use to do. "I didn't know if we would ever have fun again."
Ed and Neva have continued to do what they can to help people that face similar challenges. In June, they and Francis Benson helped Brenda Bohnenblust get a stroke support group started at the hospital. "It has been great you know when the people in the group say they understand, they do," Ed said.
Ed has also continued to show how strongly he is committed to overcoming. This August he won a trophy for his determination at the Overland Park stroke support group's walkathon. Finishing with his family at his side, Ed was the last one to complete the one-mile walk. "Ed puts new meaning into never give up and has shown that you can have a quality life even after a traumatic event," Bohnenblust said.
The Andersons also participated in a relay for life event for Neva this August. Just when things were beginning to look better, in October of 2001, three days after Neva's 60th birthday, Dr. Kelley informed her that her mammogram revealed a spot. She was later diagnosed with breast cancer and Dr. Butt performed a mastectomy. Neva has remained cancer free since. "The Dr.'s and hospital staff have really come through for Ed and me. Those people care so much, there is more than the Dr. and patient relationship Ð it is much deeper," Neva said.
The Andersons are thankful that they moved to this community because of the support they have received. "We just can't express enough how much it meant to us the way people cared," Neva said.
Together the Anderson's plan to get back to traveling, which is something they thought they would never do again. As for Ed, he is looking forward to completing his current language skills assignment Ð reading the Adventures of Little Bear. "In less than a week I will be in London, England, where this time I will read the Adventures of Little Bear to my granddaughter," Ed said.