By MaryTherese Griffin, Warrior Care and Transition
FORT BLISS, Texas - "Every day I open my eyes it's a victory...I'm still here and I'm enjoying life," that's what Sgt. 1st Class Angel Gonzalez says since suffering a stroke at the age of 40 on Nov. 8, 2017.
"It was hard to believe what had just happened - in fact I had just taken a (physical fitness test) and scored 300 on it," said Gonzalez. "One hour later, things started shutting down. I woke up at the hospital in front of a neurosurgeon about to do brain surgery on me."
Gonzalez stroked on the left side of his brain and had surgery on his carotid artery. He is recovering at the Fort Carson Warrior Transition Unit and can't believe a little over a year later he is competing for a place on Team Army at the 2019 Army Trials at Fort Bliss, Texas.
"I've got lots of neurological issues like right-arm damage, which isn't cool when you are right handed. I've got numbness, weakness and tingling in my right arm but I am getting stronger every day and working through it." He is competing in rowing, seated volleyball and track. He's already medaled in rowing using his left arm and is taking everything in stride as he adjusts, recovers and overcomes. To make Team Army, he says, would be mind-blowing.
"I'm in very good company here at Army Trials. Everyone brought their 'A' game, and everyone wants to make Team Army, we're all fighting hard."
Gonzalez still fights to get better every day with the support of family and friends to include his two teenage children who are stoked he is at Army Trials.
"They are rooting me on all the way and they love to see me getting better."
As this miracle Soldier competes he feels blessed to be here in life and won't focus on his limitations...something he hopes anyone facing a disabling setback will heed.
"Concentrate on the things that you can do. I know I had a lot of people who care about me saying don't do this or you shouldn't do that, but I refuse to let anyone tell me what I can and can't do."