“What I understood, having survived a stroke at 26”

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Reading the instructions for assisting victims of a stroke, we do not really think that this can happen to us. Maybe someday, after many years. For young entrepreneur Jonas Koffler, the stroke became a shock – but as a result, he discovered the fullness of his life.

After graduating from the university, I wandered for some time from one office “hack” to another, but longed for more. The yard was 2000 – the heyday of the era of digital technology. I decided to try myself in this area, and soon I was accepted into the staff of the company engaged in online education.

Every day at work brought new sensations. In 17 colors, there were aromatic candles, intellectual games and balls for yoga in 17 colors. Every week brought new inspirational projects, interesting tasks, acquaintance with new technologies. And most importantly – communication with the team of talented, smart and enthusiastic colleagues.

Ambitions in me were seething. I was able to survive a wave of dismissal and quickly climbed the career ladder. A few months later I already led the development and promotion department. I had subordinate designers, programmers, producers, sellers and writers.

I spent 70 hours a week

at work – and even more if there was a deadline on the nose. Often I was the first to come to the office, and left the last. But I was more happy than ever, giving myself all myself.

To be in good shape, I subjected myself to tests, which I myself invented: for example, I pumped myself coffee and slept in fits at the day, instead of fully sleeping at night. I was 26 years old, and I felt invulnerable. I thought I could withstand any tension. Neither periodic headaches, nor fog before my eyes, nor signs of exhaustion worried me.

One summer morning I came to the office and felt a slight twitching in the right eye and numbness in my hands. I thought: nonsense, just morning dizziness. After some time, I made a presentation at the meeting of our group. After her, one colleague came up to me and said that I said strangely: some of my words could not be made out.

The next thing I remember,-someone told me: “You have a stroke. You need to conduct a thorough examination – you understand?”

I understood: I have no 30 yet, and my brain is already damaged. I could not ask a doctor or nurse because I could not formulate her. The words dangled in my head, but I could not pronounce them. My hands still did not obey me. I could not dial my name on the computer screen because I did not remember how it is written.

When I was discharged from the hospital the next day, the driver asked where to take me. I could not remember the name of the street on which I live. I had to give him papers for discharge in which the address was indicated. Having reached home, I fell asleep for a long time.

Overloads at work today have become a common occurrence: this is how everyone works. We do not think that coming to the office at nine in the morning and leaving at nine in the evening is not normal. It seems to us that we need to work at the limit of opportunities, otherwise we will be slipped in a bend. This is the only way to “break into people”. My experience showed how dangerous it is to live with such a matrix in my head.

I did not assume that I could have a stroke. I was so young! But since then I learned that among young people this happens more and more often. The doctor did not tell me directly that the reason was overwork, but made it clear that stress, overstrain and exhaustion could play their role.

Leaving the hospital, I felt helpless and humiliated. My aura of invincibility was dispelled without a trace. But I was a while. Every evening I trained to read on the contrary complex words like “arachnophobia” and “Czechoslovakia”, solved difficult mathematical problems, worked on the return of forgotten skills and lost knowledge.

Thanks to the support of my colleagues, I returned to work. But now my rhythm was not like a sprint race, but to a turtle step. But I found time for pauses and thoughts – and my work, and with it all my life, became richer as a result.

Because of the stroke, I had to rethink my professional priorities. Having discovered many new opportunities for myself – from writing books to counseling – at the same time I realized the importance of reasonable planning and learned to abandon excessive obligations.

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