OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Every 40 seconds, someone has a stroke, according to the American Stroke Association. As one man found out, it only takes one second for a stroke to change a person's life forever.
At Singing River Health System's Neuroscience Center, it's all about returning to square one. What look like simple tasks to most can be challenges for those who come to this center for treatment.
Three years ago, many basic tasks were impossible for Malcolm Golson. He suffered a stroke during a hip replacement surgery on Nov. 4, 2015.
"The stroke affected the back part of my brain, which is the vision. So upon waking up, I was completely blind," Golson said.
Slowly, he regained his vision, but blind spots and overall mental fatigue made it hard for the Air Force veteran to accept his new reality.
"I believe during the year of 2016, I was depressed because I didn't know what was going on. I would try to do some critical thinking and I'd be tired in five minutes," he said.
He lost his motivation to continue doing things he once loved but soon realized giving was not an option. He said, "I just refused to let it beat me."
To fight back, Golson found occupational therapist Amy Polite, speech therapist Kacee Ward, and physical therapist Amy Farrar.
It was a long journey to help Golson learn to read again.
"We focused on improving his brain's ability to understand, process, and accurately and quickly understand that information," Polite explained.
It was another journey to help him speak again. "I picked him up in January 2017 and that's when we really kind of started working on attention and short-term memory, processing, auditory processing, visual processing," Ward said.
Helping him see again was a different journey. "We were able from a physical therapy standpoint to start working on his ocular endurance, working on his eye teaming, because that was really keeping him from working on the computer, from being able to read for five minutes," said Farrar.
He went through therapy twice a week for a year and a half. It's what Golson calls a brutal experience to adjust to a new normal. "It was very exhausting process, but rewarding because I gained a lot of my self-confidence and a lot of who I was," Golson said.
It's a process he acknowledges he didn't go through alone. "I don't think they understand how much I appreciate them," he said, "Because, before them, I was lost. I didn't know where to go or how to go."
"You become family for them, you are their biggest cheerleader, but also their biggest critic because you have to stay on them, because you know there's going to be bumps in the road," Farrar said.
Bumps in the road that made the journey difficult, but not achievable. "They wouldn't allow me to quit. So, thank you," a tearful Golson said.
Though Golson's treatment at Ocean Springs Neuroscience Center is over, he's not done.
He's a motivational coach, teaching and writing a book to share his story. He wants everyone to know that starting back at square one, doesn't mean ending in failure. "I think I was preserved to live life with purpose now, and so that's what I do," he said.
"You understand your limitations, you just keep living life to the fullest and you don't let it beat you."
The American Heart and Stroke Associations recently recognized the Singing River Health System with the Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. For more information on the neurological center and the other programs offered, visit their website: www.singingriverhealthsystem.com/services/neuroscience/