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Broadcaster Mark McEwen Tells Of Stroke, Recovery
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Broadcaster Mark McEwen Tells Of Stroke, Recovery

Books

TONY COX, host:

In 2005, former CBS broadcaster Mark McEwen was flying home to Orlando, Florida, when he had a stroke. He survived, but it changed his life forever, and now he has put that experience, and the aftermath, into a new book called "Change in the Weather: Life After Stroke." Mark McEwen is with us now. Mark, how are you?

Mr. MARK MCEWEN (Author, "Change in the Weather: Life After Stroke"): Fine. Hey, Tony, and I can't believe Brett Favre is in New York, either.

(Soundbite of laughter)

COX: That's pretty wild. Mike, first - we're going to talk about what happened to you on that flight, but first of all, how are you feeling today?

Mr. MCEWEN: Well, I'm doing OK. As you can hear, my voice is still - has a ways to go. People who have seen me say - they - I don't look anything like a stroke survivor. I've, Tony, I've lost about 45 pounds. I go to the gym just about every day. I eat fruit, and vegetables, and fish, and all that, but I'm doing OK.

COX: You know, it sounds weird to say that you are lucky, because you had a stroke.

Mr. MCEWEN: Yeah.

COX: You had two, and yet, in the telling of the story about your flight, and the guy who happened to pick up the phone for you to talk to your wife so you can call 911, all those things converged to save your life, didn't they?

Mr. MCEWEN: Well, Tony, people say, did you know you were dying? Did you know you were near death? It's like being underwater. All you're trying to do is to swim up to where the air is. And lucky is a good word. I was lucky. I could have died. A good friend of mine, Bill Cosby - the namedropper I am - said any day you're on this side of the dirt is a good day, and he's right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

COX: And he wrote the forward for your book, "Change in the Weather." Why that name? I think I could understand it, but tell our audience why you've named it that.

Mr. MCEWEN: Well, first of all, it's - a change in the weather sort of connotates (ph) something is amiss, something is changing. And people know me - I did a lot of things on "The Early Show" on CBS, but the weatherman is what people remember me for. And so, that experience with stroke changed my whole life, and accordingly, it changed the weather, a change in the weather.

COX: Right, and your outlook on life, certainly. Talk for a minute, if you can, about the fact that you went to the hospital, or the doctor, in Baltimore, when you had your first stroke, not knowing you were having it, and you were misdiagnosed. What happened?

Mr. MCEWEN: Well, Tony, if anyone, anyone, had said the word stroke, I wouldn't have flown two days later. But they - the doctor there sort of misdiagnosed me - not sort of, did misdiagnosed me as having the flu, and sent me home. And I thought, he's a doctor. I'm not - you tend to believe what a doctor says. And again, if someone had diagnosed me as having suffered a stroke, we would probably be having a different conversation.

COX: You know, strokes hit twice as many African-Americans, Mark, as they do any other group, and sometimes, to be honest, it takes something like this to get our attention. Why do you think that is?

Mr. MCEWEN: Well, Tony, eating a whole pepperoni pizza was de rigueur for me, and I've thought, as most people do, I was invincible. I would be here forever. And so, there I was - it took me, Tony, six months to know I was in a coma for four days. I didn't know that, and now I kind of - I never sort of watched what I ate. Everything I eat is - it goes - I think about it.

And so being my mantra now, is be healthy. And I think, as African-Americans, we grew up with foods - like, fried chicken is one - and we grew up with stuff we didn't know was bad for us. And health-wise, those kinds of foods don't help you, and so a lifestyle change is in order. It's what I did, and I'm here to spread the word to everyone to - having a stroke doesn't discriminate. It happened to me. It can happen to you.

COX: So, you're eating more healthy.

Mr. MCEWEN: Yeah.

COX: You're exercising. You have a more positive - not that you didn't have a positive outlook before, but you have a really appreciative outlook on life now, I would imagine.

Mr. MCEWEN: Well, Tony, I'll tell you, little things that used to bother me don't anymore - and I have twins who are four and a half years old. They don't know a stroke from a side of a barn. All they know is that Dad is now home playing with them. And by the time they know what this is, hopefully, this will be in my rearview mirror.

COX: Hopefully. Mark, thank you so much. Congratulations on your recovery, and spreading the word, because it's very important what you're talking about.

Mr. MCEWEN: Thank you, Tony.

COX: Mark McEwen is a former CBS broadcaster and a stroke survivor. He has put his story down in a book called "Change in the Weather: Life After Stroke."

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