By The Old Sarge
My childhood friend, Bert, was simply the most brilliant person I have ever met.
A science nerd, Bert self-studied German while in grade school because he knew that many university chemistry text books were written in that language. His diligence paid off. After graduating college, he earned a doctorate in organic chemistry from MIT before going to work for a major chemical company where he accumulated a lengthy list of scientific patents.
Always a number cruncher, Bert was a former state bridge champion and he his wife enjoyed regular vacation visits to Las Vegas where he put his mathematical mind to work at the blackjack and poker tables. When he retired, they moved to Vegas and gave a shot at making professional poker a second career.
As good as he was, he was smart enough to quickly realize that he was out of his league playing with the seasoned Vegas pros. “When you look around the table and you don’t see any suckers,” he told me, “that means you’re it.”
He then went on to teach Chemistry 101 at a local community college. He enjoyed the new gig. It gave him something to do and he liked mentoring the youngsters. And, besides, teaching gave him plenty of time to ply his luck at the tables. Recreationally, of course.
For several years, Bert and I would get together during my annual visit to Las Vegas. We argued politics, recalled old times and hit the tables at all times of the day and night. He tried to teach me the art of card counting at the blackjack tables, but this was one student he couldn’t reach.
Then he suffered a minor stroke. It hampered him from holding the chalk to write on his classroom blackboard, but he continued working.
Two years later, he suffered another stoke. This time, Bert wasn’t so lucky. His speech became slow, disjointed and slurred and he became easily confused. It was painful to see this brilliant mind struggle to complete a simple sentence or thought. Once, he struggled to tell me that his mind remained sharp, but the proper words were somehow lost on their path from his brain to his tongue. How utterly frustrating can that be?
This is a roundabout way to get to my point that strokes affect people at various levels. Some, like Bert after the first occurrence, recover and eventually are able to return to work. Others, like Bert after his second stroke, never fully recover.
A stroke occurs when poor blood flow from the brain kills cells. Symptoms may include an inability to speak or understand and an inability to feel or move one side of the body. (See Wikipedia.) About 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke every year. Most are elderly, but about 20 percent are younger people still in the workforce. A good percentage of them eventually recover to the point they want to return to work. The question is—how do they go about doing that?
One answer is the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Ticket to Work program and Allsup Employment Service. AES is an SSA-approved Employment Network, which means our professionals provide the highest level of services designed to help you reach your Ticket to Work goals and return to the workforce when you’re ready.
Whether you’re attempting to return to work after a stroke or another illness or disability, click here to see how Allsup can help. Or just call (888) 965-7238.
We’re here to help.
Editor’s note: May is Stroke Awareness Month. For more information on stroke prevention and resources, visit the National Stroke Association website.