Don’s Story

Site created on June 16, 2018

Don had a stroke Friday afternoon. We don’t know why it happened yet, He was very healthy and active before the stroke. Go to the very first journal entry to read the full story of what  happened. We are using this site to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement on this site so I can show Don how much we love him. 
If you would like to help Don’s family with childcare expenses go to or ( or) ( or ( or)) a  meal, go to: We are grateful for gas cards or Target/Walmart gift cards  as well. 

Newest Update

Journal entry by Erin Stratford Owens

Well it’s been many many weeks since I have posted here. Life has been extremely busy since Don was discharged from inpatient rehab in July. It just so happens that my job, which is demanding on a good day, has in recent months doubled down on urgent and important things that only I can take care of and naturally, that means I have not had a moment to update you all here. Suffice to say this summer has been a busy one - tough and beautiful in many ways. 

I can’t remember where I left off so I will just recap and keep going. Don was discharged from inpatient rehab at Cone hospital on July 6. He started outpatient speech language, physical, and Occupational therapy several times a week until very recently. He also started to go to weekly acupuncture. Through the summer, he was seeing all the doctors who had invested in his care since the stroke. He had an angiogram in August that showed an AVM in his right right temporal lobe.  Surgery was scheduled to take that sucker out on September 28. That’s today. We have been putting our things together since then – making sure all of the Is are dotted and T‘s are crossed. Having a last will and testament drawn up. Paying off some bills. Spending quality time with our families. Don does not remember how traumatic the first injury and surgery was, so this surgery felt very scary even though it is a planned surgery and we know more about him and his body then we ever have in his life. The conclusion of all of the tests and examinations and procedures is that Don is perfectly healthy except for an AVM and his right temporal lobe. That thing could burst at any time and it needs to come out. 
 We arrived at Cone Hospital at 5:30 AM this morning and he was under the knife by 8:30 AM. I thought I would have most of the day to distract myself by working from my laptop in the waiting room but, at 11:30 AM his surgeon, Dr. Kyle Cabbell came to the waiting room and told me that the surgery was successful and he is awake and doing great. 
 About 30 minutes later I was allowed five minutes with him and took the picture attached here. He is awake and happy and only in a little bit of pain so far. He has had no damage to the brain and is back to his old self, cracking dad jokes left and right. I can’t tell you how happy I am to get this chapter of our lives written and sent to press. Hopefully this is the non-– dramatic ending to what I will forever call My Worst Summer Ever.
Thank you for all of our friends who have cared about us through this crazy event. Don is doing great physically, mentally and emotionally and will soon be back to his regular life. But with a different set of priorities most definitely. Work less, spend more time with people we love, and don’t postpone Joy. Don’t wait. Live life to its fullest now. OK. I gotta go. I got to get on that new list of priorities.
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