Jerry Doran loves the catering business. He once managed his own company in Connecticut where he had 13 employees. His wife also manages a small business, so they were comfortable financially.
After a severe brain stem stroke five years ago at age 49, Jerry could not breathe without a respirator, eat or talk for several days. After he stabilized, he spent six months in the hospital, another six months in a day program at the hospital, then fourteen months in outpatient rehabilitation. He is still in a wheelchair due to balance problems and a weak right side. He also has slight difficulty speaking and understanding speech.
“I thought I’d get back to my original job at first,” Jerry says, “but over time I realized I could not.” Since the stroke, he has moved to Austin, Texas, where the state rehab commission paid for him to learn how to create Web pages. But he didn’t take to Web design and has since gone back into the catering business.
“I work part time doing data entry for a company that rents dishes to caterers,” says Jerry, who is now 54. “I don’t require any special accommodations. I just type with one hand on a regular keyboard. I also send out information to prospective clients.”
Jerry receives Social Security Disability (SSDI), so he can’t make more than $750 a month without a penalty. He works about 40 hours a month. A typical day includes three hours at work, then a couple of hours doing laundry, cooking and gardening. His wife still works full time.
“Working makes me feel part of things, and working part time allows me to do other things that I enjoy.” He is on the board for Disability Assistance of Central Texas and also serves on the special services committee for the Austin public transportation agency.
His advice to other survivors is simple: “Just adapt and keep a positive attitude.”