Meet Herb: Blogger, Stroke Survivor, and Aphasia Advocate

Oct 15, 2014 | by Lingraphica Guest Blogger


By Herb Silverman

Writing my blog, Unmistakably Herb,, over the last several months, one of the post I published was so intriguing that it continues to ponder and persuade me even still. The article was called "Build The Excitement Anyone Would Be Proud Of" and, at the end of the article, I scribbled these words:

"Call me an idealist. I thought, maybe, I bring action and goodness to my heart no matter what the cause. Maybe, I considered my 'shining moment' from the chips are down. Maybe, optimism reigns supreme. Maybe, even a little ray of consciousness will prevail. Maybe."

Now, why did I say that? To answer that question, let's go back to the wayback machine to 1991 for a perspective and depth...

A Bad Day

You see, at the age of 27, I suffered a massive stroke due to the result of a blood clot from my heart to my brain. I was in a coma for over a week, barely alive. Because I was so young, I had not one, not two, but three neurologist round ­the ­clock trying to save my life. However, all three doctors were mystify due to the fact that my brain was starting to grow larger so much that it was interfering with my skull. In other words, I was running out of time.

Eventually, one neurologist prescribed a medication that would reduce the swelling in my brain and make me conscious once again. Fortunately, the drugs did work, but the side effects were substantial. Specifically, my entire right side was now paralyzed. Even worse, my nightmare occurred: my communication was completely obliterated. I could not walk, talk, read or write and literally, I had to learn everything all over for the second time in my life. Bummer.

Eat Bonbons

Once my survival was assured, my family (who was by my side every step of the way,) asked the doctor what was next for me. The doctor wasn’t very encouraging. Basically, he indicated three things about my prognosis:

  • Number one: I was going to be in a wheelchair for the rest of my natural life
  • Number two: I was never going to work ever again, and probably most importantly for me,
  • Number three: with lots, and lots, and lots of speech therapy, I would retain about 50% of my communication from now until the end of time.

Whoa nelly! (By the way, because I was not myself, so to speak, several years later my family informed me what the doctor said. Part of me thought it would be nice that I can eat bonbons and watch television continuously forever.) On a serious note though, I was visibly upset and I knew the large struggles were laying ahead.

Now back in the present, I look at all of the accomplishments, triumphs and tribulations since my accident and I am so delighted and so thankful that I don't even know where to start. I guess in some senses, it’s mind over matter when my catastrophe hit. And it's funny, because when I look at other people even today, they don't know that I suffered my stroke. Other people are not concerned about my global aphasia, a language disorder that affects the processing between my brain and my communication. Other people just look at me and realize that I walk with a cane. That's it. And that, was the key to my success.

Be Positive. Be Unique. Be Different.

In particular, we can construct the capability of achieving anything we want, any purpose that is meaningful, anything objective imaginable if one can try and succeed. The energy to make everything possible is all up to the individual to be better than you were before. Be disciplined. Be positive. Be unique. Be different.

One proof? Since my stroke, here's some of what I have been doing:

  • Retired after over 28 years as a sales professional, these days, my passion and focus lies in blogging, networking, mentoring, volunteering and social media. Also, I advance public education and support services to assist people with aphasia ("What is Aphasia?") and their families.
  • As a guest speaker, I share my personal stories and leveraging the power of positive thinking. Drawing from years of personal experience, I teach others how to harness the power of positive thinking and how to nurture and bolster a "can­do" attitude. I have been featured in numerous articles, as well as on radio and TV, including a story on CNN, “Laughter is a Healing Tool”.
  • Originally, as Rotary president and member for 17 years, presently, I am a board member of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Kennesaw with my specialty in membership and designing and maintaining our website.
  • An alum of the University of Chicago, I was selected to serve as the Volunteer RegionalCoordinator for 2013­-2014. Also, in coordination with the admissions department, I interview prospective students who want to attend the U of C.
  • I founded and was the first president of the Business Network International (BNI Profit Makers), a referrals networking organization. In that aspect, our club was one of the largest members in the United States with over $3 million in referrals in our first year.
  • As an Advisory Council board member for the National Aphasia Association, a nonprofit organization, I promote public education and support services to assist people with aphasia and their families.

Additionally, I completed three certificates in information technology, 12 years later after my stroke.

Positive, Focused and Flexible

In conclusion, my point is not to brag about my feats, but to raise a point that you, and only you can grab your abilities and thrive if you are positive, focused and flexible. Be adaptive to both your surroundings and belief about what you want to accomplish. Don't be frightened or upset, don't be frustrated or blue, but instead focus your attention on how you can achieve great proficiencies with enthusiasm and passion.

So I ask you, what are you doing to create something fantastic?