May 15, 2010
Let me tell you about the health event sponsored by the Dr. Phillips Hospital in Orlando with guest speaker Mark McEwen. Mr. McEwen is a stroke survivor and both Lety and I were very interested in meeting and listening to him speak. I had begun reading his book Change in the Weather to gain insight from his experience. The book is very enlightening and I recommend it. One key point Mark made that I could relate to most was how the family also was in rehabilitation with Mark in dealing with his stroke. Anyways, the event was one county away and so we rose early just before 6 am to be ready and factor in the drive time. I have learned its best to prepare in advance as much as possible. Since I am not a morning person, I loaded the wheelchair in the trunk and helped her select her dress which she wanted to wear that day the evening prior. We arrived just after 9 am and Mark was not due to speak until 9:30. The parking garage was conveniently located and offered ample signage and direction. Lety likes to walk as much as possible with either her quad cane or hemi walker but when distances are too great or time is short she will rely on the her wheelchair which we used this morning. It also provided mobile seating for her. The polite security guard assured us we were in the right spot and the event was just a little behind schedule which suited me fine. I imagined since some in attendance were fellow stroke survivors they would need time to travel as we did. The lobby was cool and arranged with several chairs and a platform stage for the speakers. Mark McEwen would be first followed by a board certified neurological surgeon and the medical director from the rehabilitation center my mother also attended during her recovery. There were 5 or 6 booths setup offering free blood pressure screenings, stroke information and a goodie bag for all attendees. Lety and I had a few minutes to explore a room where Mark was seated and would receive guests and fans before and after including a book signing. I remember Mark McEwen from his time in television and was familiar with who he was. He had a presence about him that I’m sure people closest to him can relate better than I. He was both engaging and friendly while chatting with my mother and me. We were fortunate to have him for a couple of minutes before he spoke. So after signing our book we went out to take our seats. Mark took the stage and gave an inspiring presentation. His monologue was peppered with stories he outlined in his book. A touch of humor rounded his nearly hour long speech followed by a Q&A. It was good to hear him in person. As he was wrapping up the talk, several members of the audience were gathering and huddling in the room to meet Mark up close and personal. There were books on hand for purchase and autographs. By this time we were just passed 11 a.m. and Lety and I took stock of the time. We decided to head on home with the long drive. Unfortunately we did not stay long enough for the other speakers.