Relentless: Make Your Massive Stroke Recovery A Reality Like Ted Baxter
Ted was living a life many can only dream of as a successful businessman. He loved a challenge, and he was always reaching for another rung in the ladder until all that changed one dark day when he suffered a massive stroke. Relentless: How A Massive Stroke Changed My Life For the Better tells the true-life story of Ted W. Baxter and his massive stroke recovery. Relentless is a tale of relentless courage, relentless hope, and relentless healing.
In the year 2005 at the young age of 41, Ted suffered a devastating ischemic stroke (in spite of his healthy, active lifestyle) that destroyed the function of a quarter of his brain. This cerebrovascular accident impaired his ability to talk and walk.
My Thoughts About This Massive Stroke Recovery Story
I was struck over and over again by the fact that, as I continued to read Ted’s narrative, he never once considered himself beaten. His determination to regain 100% of his normal function only continued to grow by leaps and bounds.
Ted goes over the timeline of his life before the stroke and after in great detail. More personal details than I was expecting, but it gave me tremendous perspective into who he is as a person. While I found there to be too many point-of-views throughout the book, I thought it was touching to get the family’s insight. Ted’s family rallied to support him and show him their love in whatever ways they could throughout his healing journey and beyond.
Relentless is so much more than a memoir. It is an intimate peek into the life of an individual whose world has been ripped away. A truly poignant look at the joys, the frustrations, and the triumphs. After you read the last page of Relentless, you will never look at someone who has experienced a traumatic injury the same way again. You will view them with newfound respect and support with an encouraging word on the tip of your tongue because they are fighting a battle whose hardships most will never know or understand. According to Ted regarding aphasia and his massive stroke recovery:
“Acceptance. They say it is a phase of recovery, a phase of dealing with loss. And I was contending with a loss of sorts. I had to recognize what had happened, what it meant, and how bad it was. I had to accept that it was not going to completely go away. Before I could make progress with my recovery, there had to be acceptance. I had to recognize that I had aphasia, and I couldn’t simply make it go away. In time, I might be able to lessen the effects by following a rehab plan, but it would always be there in some form.” – Ted Baxter, pg. 85, Relentless.
Ted had a choice as a multitude of voices swirled through his mind that no one else could hear. Fortunately for him, he listened to the positive voice on his journey towards recovery, but that was more difficult than it sounds.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has suffered a stroke, the family of a stroke survivor, or someone wishing to understand strokes from the survivor’s perspective.
How to Support Someone Going Through A Massive Stroke Recovery
Strokes are mysterious events to the layperson. That is why the American Stroke Association has taken to calling them brain attacks because they attack the brain the same way that the heart is attacked during a heart attack. Recovering from a brain attack is an arduous, tedious, frustrating process that often takes much longer than the survivor or their family expects.
Ted’s narrative challenges you to see not what he is, a stroke survivor, but who he is. I think that is important to keep in mind for anyone with a loved one suffering from a debilitating health injury or illness. They are more than a label. They still are an individual with autonomy and identity. As such, they deserve the sacred human right of respect.
Recovery is an exhausting road that takes infinite amounts of patience. Stroke survivors will often take two steps forward and two steps back, but they must try, try, try again until they master that first step forward. Don’t focus on their losses and celebrate their gains. Never underestimate the power of positivity!
A Massive Stroke Recovery Complication: Aphasia
Ted was diagnosed with a condition known as aphasia as a complication of his stroke, a language impairment affecting the production and comprehension of speech and the ability to read, write, and process language. While not a loss of intelligence, the world often views it as such.
Ted was told he would most likely experience seizures after the stroke, and he did. Each seizure was a setback for him as he battled aphasia, stealing away the words he had worked so hard to learn, but he never gave up.
“Ted is on the road to beating aphasia without the benefit of futuristic brain transplants. In our careers, we have not seen anybody beat it. Our research careers are built on developing advanced biological interventions to remedy it. But frankly, after knowing Ted and reading his personal story in detail, we don’t doubt that it is possible, and we don’t doubt that Ted will be the one. He is relentless. He is a great role model for all of our patients. We are thankful that he is on our side.”
- Steven L. Small, Ph.D., MD, professor, and chair of neurology E. Susan Duncan, MA, MS, CCC, speech-language pathologist and Ph.D. student University of California, Irvine.
I commend Ted Baxter for his perseverance, resilience, and courage in achieving such a successful massive stroke recovery and recounting his story with such finesse. Relentless is an inspiring testament to the power of the human spirit.
About the Author
Ted W. Baxter received his bachelor of business administration at Hofstra University followed by his MBA at Wharton. After 22 years in the financial industry, Ted retired as a global CFO with a large hedge investment firm based in Chicago. Ted volunteers at 2 hospitals in California, leading stroke-related communication recovery programs. He is a member of the Board of Directors at the American Heart and Stroke Association
In conclusion, Relentless is not just a how-to-recover-from-a-stroke book. It is a very well written memoir about a man who overcomes. His massive stroke recovery story will leave you inspired and empowered no matter what journey you are on in life. I highly recommend it!