April showers bring May flowers.. but what does May bring Stroke Awareness. This blog is all about my Aunt Trish a role model for stroke survivors everywhere. At the age of 40, she had a mitral valve repair surgery that led her down the path of a heart attack and a right sided stroke post surgery. But did this make her a victim.. NO!
When talking with her over coffee Aunt Trish talked about failure during recovery "NOT BEING AN OPTION." When her doctors told her she would never be able to take care of herself, she simply said "Not an option." And her drive to prove them wrong drove her to be the strong, independent women that she is today!
Aunt Trish comes from a family where genetics play a big role. Her Grandfather died of a heart attack and her father had a heart attack at 52y/o and a massive heart attack at 66y/o. When I asked her if she worries for her two daughters Nicole and Krystal and their future she said: "we've talked about it and they have had the discussion with their doctors."
She credits occupational therapy and physical therapy with getting her back into society. She said: "there are days when you just want to give up, but you have to stick with it." During her recovery, Aunt Trish would look around and see people who were worse off than her and be grateful for what she had. Many times during therapy people would ask her "Are you here with your grandma or mom?" She was by far, to young to be a victim of a stroke. But as we know strokes don't discriminate. One thing she recalled about her recovery was the role reversal of having to have her daughter Nicole a junior in high school at the time teach her to drive after Aunt Trish had just taught Nicole to drive.
May is not only stroke awareness month but also Mother's Day. When I asked my Aunt Trish what this stroke taught her and her daughters she said " Focus on being nice, be good, don't judge, life is short and tomorrow is not guaranteed. Again, I am overwhelmed with her positive attitude! As she says, " An Attitude of Gratitude" Her faith and positivity has helped her to persevere through not only one but three life-changing health events. A cool fact about Aunt Trish and her daughters is the connection to the moon. They always say "Love you to the moon and back." The stroke has brought the three of them into a close relationship no matter how many miles separate them.
The pictures above are of the fun times that Aunt Trish has been able to enjoy with her daughters Nicole and Krystal.. and let's say there are many more shenanigans to come!!
I asked Aunt Trish what advice she had for other parents who have to talk to their kids about their stroke and she said: " Be open, let them know your feelings what's in your inner heart and soul, that you're going to get through this and do it!" To other stroke victims Aunt Trish's message is "don't give up, keep fighting!" She said, "If I'd listened to my doctor right after my stroke I'd be in a nursing home today."
In the end, I asked her does your stroke define you? And without hesitation, she said: "not at all!" When she wakes up some mornings in what she calls a "stroke fog" or her left side is weak she puts one foot in front of the other. She has good days and bad days but as she says "Happy to have an age!" She credits her kids with inspiring her to grab each day, seize it and be kind. In the end, Aunt Trish is not only positive but courageous. Life handed her lemons and she made lemonade.
In the end, I hope this blog helps others to understand that a stroke should not define you! You can set your path in life post stroke. Remeber, F.A.S.T if you are ever concerned about a stroke.
Time wasted.. Is brain lost!
Thank you, Aunt Trish, for sharing your experience of being not only a heart attack but a stroke survivor as well!!