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Couple is Closer After Stroke Recovery

By Lissa Miles

When Blair moved to CONNECT in Langley seven months ago, he was in a wheelchair and had very little use of his right leg. He had suffered a stroke on New Year's Eve in 2012 and his wife, Janet, had been told by doctors Blair had a 50% chance of living and would likely never get around unassisted.

Today, Blair can be spotted walking alone several times a day, with just the aid of a cane, along the tree-lined streets near his transitional home at CONNECT.

While he comprehends everything like he did before the stroke, his speech and mobility are slower to recover. A huge challenge because he's an artist and a very social guy. The words "yes" and "no" come easily to him and much of his communication is done through body language, something Janet is incredibly accurate at reading.

During a January interview at CONNECT, Blair and Janet, who works as a school teacher, sat on his bed together. On the walls of his bedroom hung intricate pencil drawing, mostly of wildlife, with hidden words and messages within. Janet's name appears in every drawing.

"His mom was an artist so he comes by it naturally," said Janet. Blair laughed as he prodded her to add, "He failed art in high school. He's not a conformist."

She said he has always connected easily with children by drawing pictures for them, and has made many appearances in her classroom teaching her students to draw.

Since the stroke, Blair is learning to write and draw with his left hand.

"He's so positive and determined. CONNECT has been fantastic in providing him with a home-like environment with a lot of freedom. He moves home at the end of February and I have high hopes. We are just going to let those neuropathways continue to build and connect and develop."

Janet insists Blair's strong faith in God has given him the patience and understanding to push through his recovery.

Blair, who was working as a recruiter for trades before his stroke, spent Christmas at home in December. On the one-year anniversary of his stroke – New Year's Eve – friends joined him and Janet for a party they called "Alive Day."

Janet says it may seem hard to believe, but given the choice – even considering what physical and mental struggles Blair has faced since the stroke – she wouldn't choose to go back to life before the stroke.

"We are a thousand times closer now and we've learned so much. I wouldn't trade this for the life we had before."

When asked if he agrees, Blair looked at Janet sitting on the bed beside him, took her hand and told her, "My love. Yes."