Tony’s Experience of Stroke

It was nearing Christmas – the 5th of December 2008 – and I had promised I would attend a party in London with my friend CJ. It was a long journey from Wales, and I also wanted to see Joe who I had spent a lot of time with as he was growing to adulthood. I needed to hurry back to Wales so I had kept the mention of my stay in London just to CJ and Joe. I wanted to see the doctor as soon as I arrived back as I had been experiencing powerful irregular heart beats, something I had experienced most of my life.

I arrived early in London and set out to walk to Caledonian Road from Paddington Station to the flat Joe shared with some friends. As I walked I noticed chest pains to the right and left. Having known chest pains for forty years of my life I didn’t think they were an extreme indication of anything.

Seeing Joe is always a good experience as he greets me like an affectionate son. We sat and talked, catching up with news, and the conversation turned to altered states of human experience. So I found the Jill Bolte Taylor video on the Internet and we watched the video of her experience of her stroke and the wonderful experience it unlocked for her. Tony’s Video Talking about his Stoke.

Then it was time to leave as CJ had arrived to take me to the party. I felt fine and ready to go. I stood at the top of a long flight of stairs to the street, turned to give Joe a good-bye hug, CJ having walked to the bottom of the stairs. At that point I noticed that I couldn’t see anything to my right. I turned slightly to the right wondering what was happening to my sight. There had been no warning signs of pain or aches in my head. Then it seemed to me that I collapsed down on my knees, and reaching over to my right arm and leg I realised they were cold and lifeless. At that moment I began to lose focussed awareness.

Joe thought I was joking with him, having just watched the Jill Bolte Taylor video in which she explains her experience of stroke. But here my experience of the stroke diverts from what Joe and CJ observed. Joe says that as I started to walk toward the top of the stairs his feeling turned to shock. Looking up at me from the bottom of the stairs CJ also knew something was wrong and shouted to Joe to grab me.

Fortunately Joe caught me, as CJ ran back up stairs, and together they sat me on the top step, to prevent me falling head first down the stairs. For a minute they gently tried to get my attention; tried to get me to speak and to move my arms, thinking at first that maybe I was just having a dizzy spell. But at the point where my body had completely slumped and was being held by CJ, Joe called for an ambulance. Both Joe and CJ say that the TV adverts they have since seen, warning about signs of stroke, do not portray the severity of what happened to me. For them it wasn’t a slight drooping of mouth or eye, but a complete collapse of one side of my face and body. I realised from their descriptions that the left side of my face was trying to speak, but the right side was now dead, and the struggle between right and left was not good to see. CJ said that she felt the life draining out of me as if I were dying in her arms. Her view at this point was that my face was so contorted I looked like a gargoyle. I was making inarticulate noises and my tongue was moving in an uncontrolled way.

I think it is worth mentioning the enormous difference between my experience and that of those who observed me. In regard to my mention of collapsing onto my knees, Joe’s notes clearly describe this.

You actually stayed standing for at least a few minutes. You were exploring the handle of your suitcase but you seemed to have lost understanding of how it worked or what it was. You even tried to walk to the top of the stairs and would have fallen if CJ and I hadn’t helped you into a sort of recovery position against the wall in the hallway.

And then, in regard to me saying I lost focussed awareness:

What startled me was that this seemed to happen almost instantly. We had just hugged and when you stood up again from trying to pick up your bag, you could no longer make eye contact, there was no recognition. It was such a strange turn in your behaviour that I asked you if you were having a stroke! You didn’t reply – but it was the loss of eye contact and apparent awareness that worried us enough to call the ambulance so quickly.

All this happened for me without any pain or fear or panic, and it was my good fortune to have a quick response team nearby. The paramedic arrived on motorbike literally in one minute, and the ambulance arrived ten minutes later. After their initial tests and diagnosis, they picked me up and put me in the ambulance. Luck was with me as well to be taken to The Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, which has a great stroke unit, and also to be given a ‘clot buster’ drip into my arm. This quickly disperses the clot blocking the vein to the brain. Without that the damage to my brain would have been much more severe. If the stroke had occurred in Wales I was told I would not have been given that saving aid.

What I recall from the ride in the ambulance is that I have a knack of curling up somewhere inside of myself when any severe injury is met. So I went to that safe place and gave myself over to those who were caring for me. And that care was wonderful, so much skill and knowledge shared, and so much love given. CJ and Joe were with me almost constantly for days on end. My children, Leon and Neal were there so fast too. Helen, Quentin, Mark and my grandson Ruairi arrived the next day having travelled long distances to be with me, and my cousin Robert and other friends arrived too. Thank you so much for that. It still stirs me emotionally when I remember that time. So much obvious love and care was there and holding me in the world. It was like I had been in a train crash and been hit badly.

When I arrived at the hospital I started feeling slightly clear again. I remember being told I was going to have a scan and being wheeled into a lift and then out to the room where I was put into the scanner. Leon describes what happened next as follows:

When we arrived Tony had just come out of the CT scan and receiving a ‘clot buster’ injection (intravenous) that would continue for about two hours. He was conscious, looking at people and seemed to recognise them, but could not talk and appeared not to understand what was being said. He had started to be able to move his right side a little bit. The doctor said Tony had immediately showed signs of recovery as soon as the treatment started. By about three to four hours later he could move his right arm and leg slightly and attempt to say things, but no understandable words came out.

From that point on I feel I was aware of what was happening around me, and what was said even though I couldn’t respond verbally. The stroke seemed to be severe as I still could not move and I wet the bed because of no control. But an extraordinary and unexpected thing had occurred; I was in a state of wonderful and deeply felt peace. Gradually I realised what had happened and described it as existing under a ceiling of speech, a ceiling that cut out awareness of words, and so freed me of all the conflicts, decision making, and social mannerisms that arose from being lost in words and the thoughts that arise from them. I experienced it almost as a visual thing, this great ceiling above which was the complicated world of speech, and under which was great peace.

I think this was why Leon felt that I ‘appeared not to understand what was being said.’ The peace was so great and unbroken that I could stare at my children without any usual social expressions and signs of response. It was a great experience to stare and read their many emotions, and imagine reaching out to them and hug them trying to communicate the peace I felt.

Of course, from their point of view I probably looked a mess, as due to the stroke the right side of my face, so I have been told, was still sagging. But I wasn’t aware of that – just peace and calm love. But I could not move, I couldn’t speak and had lost control of my body, to the extent that I wet the bed until a nurse put a catheter in my body. I wasn’t ‘with it’ at all.

Slowly I gained further insight into what I was experiencing. I noticed that I could read and understand the notices on the hospital ward walls. Also I knew what I wanted to express, but the mechanism of expression was now broken. So when I did try to find the words it was like looking into a vast empty space and reaching into it without success. When I think about it now, we all reach into the immense empty space of the mind and memory when we try to speak, but if you observe what occurs the words drop right into your mouth. But in my experience of stroke there were no words coming. The delivery system was broken – or as Jill Bolte Taylor says, ‘You are not a dummy, you are wounded.’

In that wonderful state of mind I looked at the faces of my family and friends and ‘read’ what they felt with extraordinary awareness. I could see and respond to the deep panic at their thought that I might be dying; the sureness and love in the face of death, the strange struggle between loving and holding back, and the tender presence. But because of my brain damage I could express none of that, so I see the brain as a method to express through the body, and the body was not the vital ME. Tony’s family gathering the day he left hospital

These experiences had a profound effect on the way I saw the mind or one’s identity. When I could manage to speak, I would say to friends and family, ‘I am still here, but my mechanism of expression is broken.’ I felt completely whole within myself, but was aware there were things that were now damaged and could be re-built. So it seems to me that the brain damage did not damage ME, but my ability to function well through my body.

Having nursed stroke victims, I know many of them experience fear, anxiety, tears and even depression, but I had none of those difficulties, maybe because most people identify fully with their body, so they all experience fear of death or loss of themselves. My life has led me to realise that we are more than our body. See Criticism –  Answers To Biographical Information

So for instance, when I first came to write anything, although I knew what I wanted to say, the connection was now so scrambled that it came out as a strange mixture, as shown in this email I sent.

“I sense you feeling in a new pathway in your footpath, your foot and your heating in your sole. You will giving the trackway and your breathless as it follows. There are only colours and tries that we collect from the many thinksing ine our way.

How the wind move and I am stand in the darkness and quietness. I see what a emotions whirling about in frightened. I see the hands and faces as them small by we all. And I takes their hands and held them cross to me. For that it we tell us if our life.

If that is love, then I take it and it give and take and another not time also.”

Here is another example from a bit later as words were coming easier:

“Hi Jill – One day I will speak and I will listen. I fell into a wordless silence, and then put my head up in a quietness. Now I came by with a few words – words. They are rare and wonderful. But the silence is even brighter. Tony”

 I want to say with great strength that the BRAIN IS NOT YOU – it is an organ that links you with your body and thus enables speech and movement. See this wonderful video which demonstrates the difference between the brain and YOU. 

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNZVV4Ciccg  also see Signs of consciousness in People who are Considered Vegetative

 So I emphasise that the brain is a link with the body, and its damage does not damage you, but your ability to express. So when people are suffering Alzheimer’s, what we see is the result of the deterioration to the brain not the deterioration of them. See Talking with the dead

I was discharged from hospital within a few days, and prior to that I was tested to see if I could walk and speak well. One of the things I was asked was if I had stairs in my house. Two nurses accompanied me to some stairs and were very dubious when I told them I could climb them two at a time, and were amazed when I did. Also with the speech therapist I ran through the tests well, showing I had basic language functioning again. I stress this because when I walked out of hospital I could carry my luggage, and had no pain in my body. So in that condition Helen drove me back home to Wales. While there I insisted on taking her for a long walk up the local mountain.

Helen left a day later, and it was after that I felt things go radically wrong. My ability to walk almost became zero so that I was constantly stumbling or falling. A walk I went on with Leon on January the 4th, up the same mountain I walked with Helen, saw me falling over at least thirty times, fortunately on grass. The strength in my arms and legs also decreased to the point where I couldn’t turn over in bed, and standing up from being on my knees was a really difficult task. And then there was the pain that seemed to eat into my joints; pains and weakness caused by the drugs taken. So getting up in the morning I described as ‘climbing out of hell’. I did learn that moving and stretching got me through though. Something that was also lost with the stroke was my ability to respond emotionally and sexually. At that time it felt I could feel no emotions at all, as if I were wrapped in thick cotton wool. This has gradually changed as emotions lit up again, but still no ability to fully express sexually, so no ability to get an erection..

Fortunately for me I never did lose the inner feeling of peace or the sense of ‘I am still here’! In writing to Joe about his I said. “I have been through a merry ride since I saw you – finding my way through aftermaths – and I was never much good at maths anyway.”

Some weeks after returning home I went for an appointment with a speech therapist. She took me through several tests and told me that I had done well, and there wasn’t anything else I could usefully do with her. She was fascinated by the speed of the recovery and so asked me about the clot buster and how quickly did it work. But then she asked me something else that helped me clarify my experience of stroke.

Tony two weeks after the stroke

She asked me if I had cried a lot, felt frustrated or experienced anger. I said no, I haven’t experienced any of those. I tried to explain why, but I could see she wasn’t interested in a long explanation. I did say that I had already dealt with the emotions most people stumble over, and as I had learnt not to identify with myself as a body, or speech, I felt I existed apart from the physical.

At one appointment with a stroke specialist I asked how it happened that I left hospital mobile and feeling well, and then became much more severely afflicted. She told me that often the brain swells after a stroke and so damages the brain further.

One of the specialists told me while I was in hospital that, ‘With a stroke such as you’ve had, you’ll never write again.’ I didn’t believe that. Six months later I can write, but not creatively as I did when I could write poetry. Yet again I have not felt frustrated at the loss of something that was a massive part of my life. Perhaps this is again due to learning not to identify myself as a writer, or anything else. I can do things, but I am not those things. I believe that is incredibly important in whatever life situation you find yourself in. This fundamental truth lies at the heart of the great meditation disciplines. Through them you find what is essentially you. That essence is formless, nothingness, yet within the darkness is everything. This is seen in what was said above about finding the right words in speaking. If I look into myself, there is a great void, emptiness, a nothing that is at the same time everything. Miraculously things emerge from the emptiness. So I believe that acknowledging the apparent nothingness and recognising it as the source of everything you call self, sets you free. I have realised again and again that the wonderful nothing that is everything is the essence of all living things – animals, plants even rocks – and the only thing that stops them expressing the same intelligence as us is their ‘equipment/body’ isn’t as sophisticated. That really came home to me when my own equipment was damaged.

A friend, Dina Glouberman, who visited me while I was still recovering my ability to speak and move wrote the following:

The thing about fear for other people is that you cannot do much about it; you are not really standing in your own ground and finding out where you are; you are trying to live in someone else’s shoes. Ever try to walk in shoes that don’t fit you? You just waddle around and get nowhere fast.

When Tony had his stroke, I was deeply worried about him and afraid for him. And although his having a stroke affected my own life in many important ways, potentially losing me a wonderful friendship and a partnership in this book, it didn’t occur to me that I should have any feelings about that. He was the one with the problem, he was the one suffering this massive crisis, and not me. So I went into shock about his life, rather than about my own.

But I finally worked out that he in fact was not the one with the problem because he was okay in himself. He was peaceful, he didn’t mind having the stroke, and for him it was just another part of his life path. I was the one with the problem because I was simply not as peaceful and accepting as he was. And it was my feelings I had to stay with before I rushed to help him.

I had to be able to say to this man with a stroke, who couldn’t speak, “This is bloody awful and I don’t like it one bit” Sounds selfish and bad, and yet it would have been much more respectful of him and of me.

Instead of that I was ultra nice and ultimately condescending, because he was not with it, and I supposedly was. And the next morning I went into shock, because I had gone beyond my limits and didn’t know it.

I will never forget a group I ran some years ago, at Easter in Skyros, when one quite wonderful participant had a brain tumour. She was a doctor herself and knew how poor her chances were, and in fact she died within the year. Yet, when people in the group felt diffident about working on their emotional issues when her problem was so much greater, she said “You insult my humanity when you won’t let me care for you as well as you care for me.”

When we stop insulting the humanity of those we love or are trying to help, we start being able to stand in our own ground, see in our own light, and really be able to reach out and be helpful if this is needed. We will be there and they will be there. And that is enough.

Dina Glouberman’s Interview with Tony 8 months later –

Dina: When we last interviewed you, we were focussed on how you received the changes in you when the stroke hit. I’d now like to ask you, when you said that you lost all the old landmarks, what did you lose at that time, or soon after?

 Tony: I lost my speech, obviously, and I lost my ability to use my right side, which came back quickly but then faltered a lot later on. I didn’t notice at first, but I noticed soon after, but I noticed when I wrote to a friend who I had a lot of love for, and I suppose she was asking me if I still loved her, and I said, “Look, because I don’t know who I am in that area, I feel as if all emotions have gone, so I can’t say whether I loved anyone or not, I didn’t feel anything, no response, no love, nothing. So I felt like I’d lost my soul in some way, but I wasn’t sure what that meant. Having no feelings, I didn’t feel bad about it or good about it, just no emotional response. It felt like I was wrapped in cotton wool, nothing could get in or out. Looking back from where I am now, I can see that gradually little bits of emotion began to break through. I watched a film and I felt moved. Something moved in me for the first time. And then gradually it came back, until recently, talking to Dakota again, I had immense emotional response. But an aspect that I lost and hasn’t come back is my ability to respond sexually, no erection, no ejaculation, nothing.”

 So I could respond emotionally but not as far as sexual feelings are concerned. Also, I was told that probably by a year I would be fully recovered. I am just at 8 months and don’t feel I am any nearer walking well. I used to walk to my village and back, which was 3 miles there and back, and I can do it, but it takes a lot of concentration, and it feels like I cannot manage to walk properly, you can’t keep up that sort of concentration.

 As far as writing, because that has been a very big part of my life, I lost it completely, and seemed to have no interest in it whatsoever. I couldn’t raise interest. It was difficult to even to write short emails. So I got very behind. But suddenly one day I wanted to write my experience of the stroke and I sat down to write it. But it’s like the walking. I can do little things fine. But any major big job I find difficult. I guess it will come back, as it was promised I would fully recover. In terms of writing, I used to love writing poetry. It was never a task, and it never needed correction. And I could probably write poetry, but it wouldn’t be the same. It used to well up and form itself in me, but I haven’t had that at all since.

 My intuition, sometimes I think I’ve lost it, but then I went to a meditation course recently, and I was amazed what pours up from the unconscious still. Incredible. But no poetry so far.

Before the stroke also I suffered a lot of dizziness, and had real trouble with it, it ruined some days. It had been coming on for 15 years. It used to come once a year, but then about three years ago it started coming more often. Since the stroke, I haven’t had the reappearance of it. That was a real bonus for me because it was a real pain. I don’t think it was connected to the stroke, but they say sometimes the setting for the balance mechanism goes, and maybe it reset itself. It was torture. Please don’t let it come back again. I don’t want to be tortured.

But I found out from a recent news report that the experience of vertigo is one of the signs of approaching stroke.

 I suppose also the way I feel about myself. As I am aware of myself here at this moment, I feel very alive and about 30, but when I move around, I realise how much I’ve aged in terms of my body and what it can do. I feel as if I’ve aged 10 or 15 years. I’m bent over sometimes. So while I move, perception of myself and how people see me, it doesn’t bother me, I quite like it because I can appear like an old man, which I am I guess. I think it gives me a lot more understanding of people’s infirmities. I see people who have had an injury who can’t walk properly and I see them walking with a stick. I feel compassion for them. I feel I am in a wonderful community of age. I say hello to them sometimes, even though I don’t know them.

 As far as my inner life is concerned, I feel as if something quite amazing has happened. I feel as if a seal has been put on this personality, a seal, which has said, yes, this is good. I developed a lot of confidence over the years. But this is different. I don’t care what I do where I go or how people see me, because it’s me. In the past, I often felt unsure of who I was, or how I appeared but I don’t feel that any more. It’s okay to be me, who I am. I haven’t taught for 20 years, and suddenly I feel I have something to teach, and it’s happened that it’s come my way to do it. It’s a sort of humility of being like so many other people who have gone this way, are going this way, nearer to death, and what have I got to lose, and somehow age gives you permission to say whatever you like or do whatever you like. I accept who I am. Because I am. And I feel good about that.

 I had this thing in the meditation course where I was pushed into a kind of uncertainty because of the ideas they were putting forward, and I spent time looking at it, and I felt the emergence of this ‘me’ I had met many times in my life, this wonderful surge of life, which is pushing you up, pushing you up, forever growing you, reaching you up, through the soil. You once said to me I am like a force of nature. That’s how I feel, nature itself, pushing up. I felt this tremendous thing of being a human animal and how I am at the end of a long line of forbears who have survived, and to do that, took tremendous courage and strength. I feel, “Fuck it, I’m here, and I want to press forward and add to what they’ve done. I want to add to what they’ve done, to make some of it right where they’d struggled with it.”

 Dina: When you were peaceful about the stroke, was that just because you weren’t feeling anything?

 Tony: No, that feeling of peace was extraordinary, and it carried on in me, I’d reached it before the stroke, but now it is there solid in me. Of course developing words, you start thinking this and that and it gets in the way, but you can return to it any time. It’s like returning to a pre-verbal self I suppose, and pre-time.

 Dina: People might think that peace is a feeling and you said you didn’t have feelings.

 Tony: I think people mix up emotions which are here, there and everywhere, with this, which is a state; it is something that has no cause, if something has a cause, it is caused by something else, but this is simply it, causeless. In Hindu philosophy they say fundamentally you are satchitananda – being, consciousness, bliss, and this is where I am more fully than I ever have been before.

 Dina: In other terms if it has a cause then it is fundamentally empty, but it sounds this peace of yours isn’t empty, it simply is.

Tony: People mix up what is their fundamental nature with what their emotional response to life events is. If we could quiet all our thoughts feelings and emotions and find our very foundation, our basic nature, not the effect of a cause, but what we are made of, it is blissful love, consciousness and being. It is one and the same as what people call God – for we are all in essence what created us out of its own being.

Dinah: You said once that they told you that you would never write again but now you are saying they say you will be completely healed in a year.

 Tony: That was someone else. It was one young specialist who looked at me and said “You will never write again.” How does he know?

 Dina: Could it be that this newer doctor is saying that whatever will heal will do by a year, but that you might not get everything back?

 Tony: He didn’t say that. I think he based it on what he called a remarkable recovery. He felt at that sort of speed I would be fully recovered.

 Dina: When we spoke yesterday during the session, I felt as if emotionally you had not been with me, and I had been feeling lonely and assuming that it was because you were in love with someone else. But it is not in your nature not to love whoever you are with who you care about. So I thought it’s because your feelings weren’t fully back. But now you’re saying that your love has come back, but I wasn’t feeling it fully until last night? So I’m confused about that.

 Tony: Let’s put it this way: I am still developing the ability to respond, but the sexual part hasn’t come back so I feel that means I don’t respond in the same way. I believe that having full sexual feelings is very magnetic and draws one to people male or female but without it is a different way of relating.

 Dina: So it’s as if we had to learn to bridge that gap, which maybe you’ve learned with some other people.

 Tony: I’m not sure if I do. I don’t know if she feels close and I’m just going along with it. I don’t know. I used to feel sexual feelings like a magnet that pulls me. I certainly don’t feel that. I certainly don’t feel sexual hunger either, which makes a big difference.

 Dina: So when you said you were in love with her and thought you could be her partner, what was that if it wasn’t the old feeling?

 Tony: It was a tremendous exchange of ideas and working together and feeling close and feeling excited about what we could do. She is ready to go in with me and work and teach it. And she’s working with dreams and LifeStream which is probably ninety percent of my inner life, and she’s in there with me. I haven’t met that before. It’s like bloody hell, who is this woman; she’s in there with me.

 Dina: What I see is that when D. decided to get back with you, she surrendered, she loved you, and she crawled right in there with you. Whereas I didn’t surrender in that way. I loved you, but I came with my own world and you with yours and tried to put them together, which is very different. I had a conversation with a man not long ago, where he explained that the reason he wouldn’t be interested in me was he thought I was too independent and it was, as we talked about it, like I was a queen in my domain, meeting a king in his, and he wanted me to join him in his domain, rather than bring the two together. And I suppose Sheba went to Solomon, and in Rumi’s poem she brought her golden throne with her, and Rumi said she didn’t need it. So she came into his domain, and that may be what I didn’t do.

 Tony: I don’t think we could have done that. D. hasn’t given up who she is, in fact she is who she is, and what I’ve wanted for ages was someone I could pass on what I’ve learned.

 Dina: And I’m not that person. I’m not your student although you are my teacher. I feel very strongly that you’re my teacher and I’m your gadfly making you keep going rather than rest on your laurels. And that is my nature. I’m a catalyst. So I guess it’s harder for me to have a successful male female relationship because of that.

But do you love me?

 Tony. Yes, I do. I found it very strongly this morning as I saw you sleeping.

Dina: And how had you been feeling about me while I’d been here before our session last night.

Tony: I felt about you. What I feel about you is that you are very curious about finding things out, and I love that and I love you for that. And you won’t rest until you find out what is really going on. I was feeling love but not romance because we kept talking about what we would do with this. But that’s gone because the sexual feelings are gone.

 Dina: I think for me, something was missing, and I felt you had withdrawn.

 Tony: I can see now that I feel as if something is being asked of me that I can’t provide so I feel a bit of heartache.

Dina: I also wonder if working on the book itself felt a bit like maybe something was being asked of you that you could no longer provide, so somewhere you withdrew a bit and you came back last night.

 Tony: I can’t come back fully.

 Dina: Could it be that you felt I wanted from you sexuality which you couldn’t provide, even the sexual feelings rather than the behaviour, and partnership in a book which maybe was gone for you a bit.

 Tony: It had gone altogether. What I felt was that I couldn’t even follow where you were going. I had nothing in me about the book or what you wanted to do. Like losing feelings, I had lost it. It’s coming back but it’s not the same.

 And of course sexual attraction has such an effect on how you are with people. And when you interviewed me, we could feel it, but it has died even more since then. Died out.

 Dina: When I tune into you I feel in my heart a kind of compassion. I feel your sexuality will come back but it come through the heart. It will not be direct any more. I believe it’s going to have another route. Like the brain that changes itself, a new set of connection.

 Dina: What I’m reflecting is that when one person changes everyone around changes and this is true when someone is enlightened or when they’re angry or whatever. We are in inter-being relationship with people. But if we don’t fully understand what has happened to the other person, we cannot fully understand what we are feeling.

 Tony: I’m feeling this feeling: Please don’t ask me to be who I was because I’m becoming somebody new. I don’t even know what I’m going to become. But I want to go on. I don’t want to be held back. I want to push on. I really want to. I guess I’ve been mourning the old me. Somehow it feels as if it’s dying. I guess I have to really, I suppose resurrection is a new you, it’s a new life. I have an image of me crawling out or emerging from an old carcass.

 Things are always changing of course, but this was such a radical change, so enormous. I love you. I love you. I feel like I love life because it continuously brings us into the new, continually, continually, continually. The new me is still very young. I am letting go of the old but I don’t know who the new me will be quite.

 Dina: If you did know, what would he be like?

 Tony: Tony laughs. I feel much more delicate in love and I would move quickly and easily from place to place, more mercurial I think. I think, please don’t ask me for love that holds me. I cannot be held. An Imp learning such a wonderful freedom. I can give you love that can never stay still but always becomes. I’ll be much more in touch with the eternal part of me. I feel like the human part of me is dying, beautifully dying. I felt this coming on me before the stroke. The stroke has really hit the old me. I can’t find any more than that.

 Dina: The interesting thing was that before I came to France, I got this message inside: Don’t sleep with Tony. And at that point, I hadn’t even considered it yet. I was a bit shocked. But I realised why. I think I’m too vulnerable to love and be left somehow. And to compete with so many other women. I couldn’t do it.

 I was going to say that here: we got to death and resurrection which is important. I saw last night the death mask. I saw your face as a skeleton and that was the only psychedelic thing I saw and I thought it was about your dying in the future, but actually you’ve already died and are being resurrected and this explains a lot in my own feelings as well because if I believe you are the same person I’m going to be mighty confused. You’re not. You are also. You are totally recognisable and all these new qualities were already there in the making so in a sense there’s nothing completely new. And yet there was a death in between and that changes everyone.

 I’m imagining Christ emerging from the grave. Who is he now? Not the man he was even if he looks the same and more or less has the same qualities which you do and you don’t. So I think death needs to be factored in whenever there’s a break in the reality that you knew, and it’s not just you have to know it, but everyone around needs to know it. I’m reminded of after my father died, that when I met people, I felt I couldn’t be with them until I said that my father had died because that had changed everything and they couldn’t possibly know I was without that. So in the same way, anyone who’s died and come back is not the same.

 Tony: Every experience changes you.

 Dina: But this is more than an experience, it’s the end of experience of a kind, of the personality kind, you didn’t have it for a while.

 Tony: I wasn’t there as the old me at all.

 Dina: So when you say, I’m still here, you’re not talking about the same thing everyone thinks you are talking about. What are you saying?

 Tony: That quietness underneath everything, that’s who I am. Whatever it is that is me, shorn of body or whatever, that’s me. And that’s what motivates me even if it doesn’t come through the body. I think a lot about the seed or the seeds, and each of us has a certain quality that may get degraded in its growth. I feel as if I’m very much in touch with that process of unfolding. If you cut down a tree, it sprouts new shoots. Same tree but it’s different.

 Dina: As someone who has died and is being resurrected slowly, what do you want to communicate in this book?

 Tony: I suppose I can say that whatever happens to you, even if the worse happens, you have something that can regrow you, if you’ve lost everything, that means you haven’t lost everything, that basic clear quality, maybe it’s a new form, maybe it has gone on a few steps, but it’s still there if you listen to it.

 Don’t struggle with it unless it is a struggle, let it happen, don’t make it a big fight because you may be fighting against what is emerging.

 I watched a woman on YouTube that had a stroke that kept saying, “I’m a failure”.

I don’t feel a failure. I feel something is working in me.

 Dina: This is really the same message I gave about burnout because people feel a failure and the images there are also of the phoenix rising from the ashes.

 Tony: People hold these awful images of failure. She said, “I’m not a person”. How can you not be a person for God’s sake? It’s like this great stone blocking the way out for the resurrection. The stone has to roll away. If they’ve got it in front of them they need to push it away.

Dina: This book has the thought about preparing for change, that we need to strengthen that in us that will never change, and this is what is so clear in the stroke, that everything that seemed important in the eyes of the world fell away, and still that in you, which you had strengthened all your life, carried you through.

 This book also has a thought which came up last night, that you need to strengthen yourself not just to carry you through your own changes, but also to be available to help direct changes in the direction that is good for the world.

 How do these two thoughts fit together? Does your new state of mind or being help you be available for the transformation of the world?

 Tony: I think so because I don’t feel attached or driven so I can be there easily without stress. I have something to offer if people wish for it, if they can take hold of it, and I’d love to pass that on to a few people so that it can develop or grow in their lives. I used to have tremendous kickbacks whenever I taught. I’d teach something positive and I would have this tremendous kickback, like being kicked because I felt unworthy. And I don’t feel that anymore. I’m not attached to an end. I guess I wanted to feel I was successful or something. And also I want to tell somebody what happened to me in that meditation course.

 Please don’t say it to anyone else. I was made a *****. This thing came on me, it was like a big headdress, a thing that connected me with this wider awareness, and I’m still not sure what to make of it or whether to believe it. I haven’t told anyone else. But I recognise that there are lots of ****** but it means I have reached a certain stage of growth. It’s that which gave me that authority I feel. It was handed to me. I was told I’d been initiated in two other paths, Christianity and Life. And I had received it this time because I was in a direct line of succession so I could receive it. They had kept true to a tradition they had tried to honour and I felt it was very pure and it passed through to me and I received it. It was an enormous experience.

 Dina: How do you feel about it?

 Tony: I love it (crying), not the fact that I’ve been made *****, but that I’d been touched with something wonderful. And I felt that I had authority to teach such as I never had before. Laughs. I’m just a silly old man. I’m a silly old man that I stumble around the place. I can see myself hardly able to walk (laughing). (Cries). I received a very great honour. I feel very moved. (Crying tears of joy).

 Dina: Doesn’t surprise. That’s why I said to you today, do you think you’re *****. Because you show all the signs of it. I won’t say that in the book. It’s wrong to do that. It’s got to be secret. Thank you for telling me.

 Tony: Thank you for hearing it. I needed to tell somebody.

 I was initiated in east and west. Life is the oldest one because it doesn’t have a creed. It’s just life poking up in people.

 Dina: How are you feeling?

 Tony: Very open (cries) Quite vulnerable. I’d like to stay open and receive whatever I can. Maybe there’s something to learn from this. In some way that I don’t understand, I have an effect on people, but I don’t understand it. I love to touch people’s lives in some way.

Dina: I feel completion is good and what I’m hearing is that sense of completion. It’s not that there’s not more to learn. I don’t think you should do it now. I think you should rest in the completion before things move on again.

Tony: I didn’t realise what impact it had on me. You had to be so bloody quiet there, I didn’t realise how it felt.

Dina: What does completion feel like?

 Tony: I immediately felt it as authority to go out and do what is needed. I don’t need to understand, I just need to go and do it. That is authority. That thing that was like a big headdress that was put on me, I felt it drive into me, like spikes going into my head, like an apparatus that connects with other dimensions I suppose.

 Dina: So it’s an honour but it’s also a responsibility, can’t just behave as you used to. So I think that’s the mark of the reality of what you experienced that you didn’t just take it as I’m so wonderful, but as of now I can offer something even better, and that is the ***** path, it’s the teacher. And don’t’ forget, after ****** the laundry.

So there’s something more you need to say about this. About how completion or ***** feels. If you let it in how would it be?

 Tony. I haven’t let myself know it yet. I was just beginning to. It’s being received from above, things streaming into me. I don’t know what they are but I can feel it. Oh God thank you. (Crying). I also received the crown of thorns, human suffering, to know human suffering.

 Dina: So you received in my terms the Love path of the Christ, the wisdom path of another path, and also the One Life path which is more ancient but also underlies all the others. So it’s as if you are the completion or the bringing together of ancient and relatively modern traditions. That is good. That is not chopped liver.

 Tony: (Kneels down and cries). How can I deal with this? I’m told I need to stand up and not to kneel. I’ve been told that a while back. I need to stand up and be proud. This is what we all have, this wonder. (He cries and laughs). I thought it was something only the worthy have. We all have it, why did I need to kneel in front of it instead of allowing it to be in me, to grow in me, to be me. I didn’t realise I could be such an ordinary guy and still be what I am. I suppose that’s the story of an ordinary working class guy, the carpenter’s son, and mine is the story of the greengrocer’s son. It takes some adjusting to. I just asked if there was a promise made years ago, if you come to me each day like this I will know myself in you. Is that promise true? They said, “Yes darling, that is true.” I feel God is very much a woman at the moment. So loving. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

 Dina: It occurs to me that receiving these initiations is made safer by the death you went through because it doesn’t go through your ego, which it might have at one time.

feathers2

I am still learning to walk, talk and write with fluency. I realised that the stroke in many ways took me back to being a baby in my abilities. As a baby I did not know how to walk and talk. I had to developed those brain circuits by constant practise. Realising that I was back in the baby ability I knew I could develop them again by practise. But I am heartened by knowing the wonderful research described in the book, The Brain that Changes Itself, by Norman Doidge.

What it shows conclusively is that someone with only half a brain can develop into a full person. This is because whatever you think, feel or do, creates sets of brain circuits. So that is how a child learns to walk and talk. But even if part of the brain is damaged, by practising again and again, as a child does, you develop circuits in other part of the brain. This is because the brain has plenty of room. This also explains the depressing circuits that get built up. If you grew in a way that developed feelings of depression, then that is what you have in your life. To change that you would have to start over with new circuits developing happy feelings.

So I am working away to develop again what was destroyed. I am lucky to do so with such a feeling of peace and with so much love from those who make my life worthwhile.

Later

I am now 82, some eleven years later, and of course older. Despite the claim that constant practice brings a full recovery, my walking has got worse, true I do not walk the miles I used to, but the truth is I can’t. Now I often fall asleep in the afternoons, and don’t have the strength or energy I used to. Apart from that my memory is pretty good. I still love writing and feel in myself like a young man, but not physically, although after the stroke for ages I didn’t have the strength even to turnover in bed, to get out of bed I had to fall out and crawl but now I can easily turnover and even sit up without help.

                                   The walk up the hills with my daughter Helen.

Comments

-Jenny M. 2016-08-14 18:42:51

I hope you have recovered any of your abilities that you temporarily (hopefully) lost. My aunt had a stroke, it affected the side of her body, but it took a few years and after that she seemed to get back to normal. They think her stroke was due to years of smoking. She was fairly young at the time (50’s) so maybe that had something to do with her recovery. Attitude also helps, as you know. Hope you are better than ever!

-Jeni 2014-10-17 10:09:43

Hi Tony

I was led to this by Facebook. Thanks for sharing your experience. My grandmother had a stroke after an operation for bowel cancer. She lost her ability to speak. It was quite amazing though to see the ways that she using other means for communicating introducing me to nurses and the like as she was always a very social person. She would look at me sometimes though with an expression I didn’t recognise and had always wondered about so thankyou with your descriptions I have some more light shed on what she may having been experiencing.
She remained in this way for about a week until she had another stroke which took away her ability to swallow this set other complications in motion and she passed away three weeks later.
I am always grateful for those moments of silence that we were able to share together in that week before the second stroke in which we got to communicate in way I hadn’t experienced before but at the same time still struggle with the fact that she had a stroke in the first place as she would probably still be alive.
Jeni

    -Tony Crisp 2014-10-23 7:52:05

    Jeni – Thank you for saying what you did about the stroke article. I was extraordinarily lucky to be given the clot buster. Without it I would have been very severely handicapped.

    But your grandmother sounds like a wonderful woman with the sort of wisdom some mothers who become grandmothers attain. Watch your dreams. Your grandmother still cares about you.

    Tony

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