Eve Moffatt has always had an active life. With a thriving career as a jazz and blues singer, as well as a motivational speaker, her voice is a large part of who she is.
So when an ischemic stroke caused Moffatt to lose her voice in 2006, “It really hurt.”
“It weighed on me,” she said. “I had the stroke, I lost my husband … I was dragging my leg behind me, hands shaking. I was lost. Afraid of outdoors. And my pastor told me I looked like a deer caught in the headlights.”
Today, Moffatt has her voice again. But her journey getting it back was a long one.
The stroke wasn’t the only challenge in Moffatt’s life. She grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, and is the oldest of seven children.
“Life was very hard,” she said. “(My father) beat my mother a lot … my mother was always going to the emergency so it was hard because I was the oldest.”
Moffatt said these challenges were compounded by the fact that she was also growing up poor and African American.
“There’s a phrase in black culture: ‘If you’re light, you’re alright, if you’re brown stick around, and if you’re black, get back,” she said.
She left home at 17 and got married. She suffered a stroke on Christmas in 2006.
In her book, “Stroke and the Journey Back: Living with Aphasia,” Moffatt details the “living hell” she endured after her stroke.
“Well I’m here to tell you that my bottle has been shook up, chipped, cracked and thrown in the trash (more than a few times) and some old scraggly, mangy dog has come along, dug through the trash heap – and I end up recycled. And I’m off running again,” she wrote.
At the time, Moffatt was living in Maui, Hawaii. She was working there was a professional jazz a blues vocalist in venues throughout the islands.
She said her stroke came without warning.
“I woke up the day after Christmas 2006 with a terrible headache,” she wrote. “I had headaches and migraines in my thirties but this one was worse … the pain and nausea were indescribable … It should have dawned on me that something was terribly wrong.”
The stroke caused aphasia to the brain.
According to strokecenter.org, aphasia impairs both the expression and understanding of language. It can also cause speech disorders such as dysarthria or apraxia of speech. She said she felt as if her brain was under attack.
“When the other musicians found out I could not sing … they let me go,” she said in an interview. “I couldn’t work.”
Moffatt moved to Cottonwood and sought help from the Verde Valley Medical Center Entire Care. She said the caregivers there gave her courage. One of them was speech pathologist Shaylee Davis.
“Shaylee did more than help me speak,” she said “She gave me encouragement. And I got the nerve to actually go out and pursue what I want to do.”
Moffatt said she owes Shaylee her life.
“Shaylee was wonderful,” she said. “All the patients think she’s wonderful.”
The rehabilitation Moffatt received helped Moffatt become a motivational speaker again. Her speeches cover topics such as aging, addiction and the courage that comes with change.
Her next speech will be Friday, May 10 at 10:30 a.m. the Business Administration Center in Cottonwood.
In short, Eve Moffatt will not be silenced.