Martyn's Story:

I Am a Miracle!

My name is Martyn Dell-Phillips and I want to share my story with you. In October 2010, I had a brain hemorrhage, three aneurysms, and four strokes. I awoke from a month-long coma with only two words - “Owie” and “Yummy.” I couldn’t remember how sounds made words. To this day, I sometimes have problems finding words and talking coherently especially when I’m tired.

Losing my livelihood as a freelance writer and speaker was excruciating. I lost my business and my identity. I was devastated, grief-stricken and depressed. I disappointed all of my clients. So much of my worth was wrapped up in my business and I didn’t know who I was without it.

When I was doing my Out Patient Therapy at Parkwood Hospital, I found out that when I was in my coma, my neurosurgeon discovered that I was born with an extra vein in my brain. Without that vein, I would have died or had very risky brain surgery. He said I was a miracle! I didn’t feel like a miracle.

At Parkwood, I also found out about the Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions workshop and my partner Matt and I registered for it. The six weeks changed my life! I was able to start making little changes to my life with the help of my Action Plans and my therapies. I was becoming a survivor and not a victim. Life was getting a bit brighter.

In January 2012, I was asked if I would like to become a Peer Leader for the South West Self Management Program. I jumped at the chance! It was a way for me to give back to the program that I strongly believe in and that has made such a difference in my life. I filled out the application, gathered my references, got a background check and met with Darren Robbins. In March, I completed my training and started my first workshop as a Co-Leader at Parkwood. It was thrilling to return to the hospital just 9 months after I finished my therapy! I had come a long way from being a devastated stroke victim to feeling like a valued member of society.

For the last four years I’ve been a Co-Leader and I’ve continued to change and improve my life with each workshop I’ve co-led. Here are some of the improvements I’ve made:
  • I married my partner in May 2013 and we have a strong bond due to the communication skills we learned from the workshop.
  • Our goal setting skills allowed us to tackle unwanted clutter before we moved to two apartments.
  • I also volunteer as a Peer Mentor with the Brain Injury Association of London and Region (two completed 1-year matches and one ongoing), Literacy Tutor for a Member at Cornerstone Clubhouse (a place for people with brain injuries), and create the PowerPoint slideshows for each Sunday service at church.
  • Matt and I joined TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) and we’ve lost 85 pounds and 30 pounds respectively. We’re also Leaders for the Chapter.
  • We’ve taken several Adaptive Cooking Classes (6-week classes for people with disabilities) and learned how to make healthy, nutritious meals.
  • We joined the YMCA and enjoy Aquafit classes, treadmill, weights and stretching. Additionally, we walk and take the bus because we don’t have a vehicle anymore.
  • I’ve been deepening relationships with friends and family with support groups and activities. I’m busier now than I ever was with my business!
Through this program, I’ve found my strength, my wholeness, and my worthiness! I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life! I’m at peace now and content in my life with Matt. So, am I a miracle? You betcha!!