Holiday tale takes on poignant personal angle

Dr. Neil Neil is back in the game after suffering a stroke recently.

On the last day of our holiday in Malaysia something occurred which is forever burned into my memory.

After we walked on isolated Miami Beach, we stopped at the one tiny café for a coffee and samosa. In chatting with the Indian owners we discovered that their café had been wiped out in the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. The husband had been out buying supplies and his wife was able to scramble up the steps out of reach of the crashing wave.

Their 22-day-old daughter Thulasi, however, was asleep on her mattress in the bedroom and the wave swept her out to sea. Then, miracle of miracles, the sea delivered her safely back home still on her mattress.

As her father told the story, Thulasi, now eight years old, came out to greet us. What a treat! What a thrill!

Back home eight days later, as I sat at my desk to work, I suffered a stroke. Three days later my right side was completely paralyzed. I spent a month in hospital and several months in rehab.

Fortunately, the brain injury has not affected my thinking or speech. Although I have some distance to go in getting my physical strength back, I walk and drive.

People have been wonderfully supportive with their words and prayers, as well as materially. Thank you. You know who you are.

As I lay on my hospital bed, I asked, “What am I supposed to learn from this?” It has been a bit scary facing my mortality. Will I ever be able to fulfill my dream of taking camping trips to various parts of Canada? Will I have time to write the books on relationships I had planned to write? If I get back in practice, will anyone want to come to see me?

Well, the last question seems to have been answered. I have been back in practice for a couple of months, and people are coming to see me and getting good results. I have begun to write my articles again and doing the research for my next book. Watch for a new article every month.

The turning point for me was getting ‘stroke recovery’ out of my identity.

I no longer see myself as someone in recovery. I’m just a man with some temporary physical limitations.

I have been through many major traumas in my life, but awful as they were, I always seem to end up with greater inner strength than I would have had if the trauma had not occurred.

I have no reason to believe that the aftermath of my brain trauma will be any different.

Like little Thulasi of Miami Beach, Malaysia, I am back.


* Dr. Neill is a Central-Island Registered Psychologist. You can reach him at 250-752-8684 or through his website

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