Columnist Dr. Neill Neill returns to the pages of The News

In February my brother and his wife took Eileen and me to Malaysia to stay with them for two weeks.

In February my brother and his wife took Eileen and me to Malaysia to stay with them for two weeks. It was a wonderful trip, loaded with new sights and sounds and culinary delights.

One happening is burned into my memory forever. On our last day we walked on Miami Beach, a small isolated beach. We stopped at the one tiny café for a coffee and samosa. In chatting with the Indian couple who owned the café, we discovered that it had been wiped out in the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. The husband had been out buying supplies and so was safe. His wife was on the steps beside the café and managed to scramble out of reach of the crashing wave.

Their 22-day-old daughter Thulasi, however, was asleep on her mattress in the bedroom. The wave destroyed their home and business and swept her out to sea. Then, miracle of miracles, the sea delivered her safely back home still on her mattress. As her father told the story, Thulasi, now eight years old, came out to greet us.

What a treat! What a thrill!

Then back home eight days later, as I sat at my desk to write about meeting Thulasi, I suffered what the doctors called a stroke. Three days later my right side was completely paralyzed. I spent a month in hospital and several months in rehab.

Fortunately, the brain injury has not affected my intellect or my speech, and there has been no pain. Although I have some distance to go in getting my physical strength back, I get around with a cane and can drive. People have been wonderfully supportive with their words and prayers, as well as materially.

Thank you. You know who you are.

As I lay on my hospital bed I asked the question “What am I supposed to learn from this?” I’m still asking it. I have had to face my mortality and it has been a bit scary. Will I ever be able to fulfill my dream of taking camping trips to various parts of Canada? Will I have time to write the books on relationships I had planned to write? If I get back in practice, will anyone want to come to see an old guy with a stroke?

Well, the last question seems to have been answered. I have been back in practice for a couple of months, and people are coming to see me and getting good results. The turning point for me was getting ‘stroke recovery’ out of my identity. I no longer see myself as someone in recovery. I’m just a man with some temporary physical limitations.

This article is the beginning of the answer to my question about writing books. It also marks the beginning of my regular writing again.

Watch for a new article every second Tuesday.

As most of my readers know I have been through many major traumas in my life. Awful as they were, I always seem to end up with greater inner strength than I would have had if the trauma had not occurred. I have no reason to believe that the aftermath of my brain trauma will be any different.

Like little Thulasi of Miami Beach Malaysia, I am back.


You can reach Registered Psychologist Dr. Neill Neill at 250-752-8684 or through his website


Parksville Qualicum Beach News