I had the pleasure of meeting Dr Edith Mok, the Vice Chair of the HK Society for Rehabilitation, over coffee last weekend.
21 years ago, during her late 40s, she suffered a severe hemorrhagic stroke, leaving her immobile and unable to speak. At the time, she was a mother of 2 teenagers, an IT Director at HK Jockey Club, as well as a part-time doctorate candidate. Due to the severity of her stroke, she completely missed the “golden recovery” period as she was mostly bedridden then on wheelchair for the first year.
Despite all odds, she not only managed to regain mobility and speech, but she also completed her doctorate degree and found work. She is also wonderfully charming and warm. She is simultaneously the embodiment of all the cliché life empowerment wisdom printed on posters and mugs, and a completely unique inspiration who proves that the cliché are all true – if only you would put your mind to it.
Lessons learnt in 1 hour with Dr Mok -
Passion is everything
Her relentless drive to push forward – before or after the stroke – is what sets her apart. Nothing about her pre-stroke life was easy, but she signed up for it all. This passion for life and continuous improvement is a powerful weapon, regardless of what circumstances you find yourself in.
If you THINK you can do it, you WILL do it
When I admitted that I sometimes get daunted by the enormity of the work ahead for OurConservatory, she chided, if you THINK you can do it, you WILL do it. *I’llwinthelotteryI’llwinthelotteryI’llwinthelottery* (kidding…but really I wouldn’t mind :P)
Your biggest champion is you.
Nobody expected her to recover to this extent. And she continues to push for further recovery from hereon. She notes that a lot of stroke sufferers get trapped in depression or mental barriers, which inhibits recovery. There will be no way out until you can get your own mind onboard.
There is always a way.
When she first started getting involved with the Society for Rehab, she was only given very basic work – stuffing letters into envelopes. As she has yet to recover mobility in her right arm, however, even this task was, in fact, already too challenging…how crushing for someone who used to be a respected senior executive. But she ploughed on. She found another fellow stroke sufferer, who also only had mobility in one arm, and together they stuffed all the envelopes. Voila!
There will always be a place for talent.
Although her previous career was in IT, she found that strategic thinking and mental agility were the most important – she is now running 3 fleets, 164 vehicles in total, of rehabilitation transportation to improve accessibility for the disabled. Do not allow your past successes to pigeon hole you.
Fear of the Future never benefitted anybody
There is always a risk of a recurring stroke, but she refused to live in fear of this. She just lives to her fullest, one day at a time.
Knowing that someone like Edith is out there winning daily battles, and being able to chat with her over coffee, makes this world a slightly better place. I hope you agree! So grateful to people like Edith who constantly reinforces why I need to do this, and stick to it...let me know if you're willing to be brainwashed :P