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My name is Tara; I am a stroke survivor and am 16 years old.

On May 18, 2005 I was sitting on a softball bench next to my mom and from out of nowhere, I felt a “searing” pain in my brain. I slumped motionless onto her lap: I suffered a stroke in the M-1 artery of the Basal Ganglia part of my brain. The entire left side of my body was paralyzed.

I was 10 years old.

My stroke was a “pure motor stroke” which meant I couldn’t move my left leg, foot, toes, shoulder, arm, hand and fingers—my entire left side. And I’m left handed! I was hospitalized for 22 days and learned that with lots of prayers, hard work and rock solid doctor’s advice I would eventually be able to regain my motor skills—but it would take a long-long time. I was in 4th grade at the time and this “thing” happened right before my year-end school ceremony. Two weeks after the stroke, I was barely moving my limbs and thought there was no way I‘d be able to go to the ceremony. I couldn’t go—not like this, but I really missed my friends. Well a week later, I made it to that assembly—in a wheel chair—but I made it. At the end of the festivities, the principal leans into the microphone to make a “special” announcement that I had returned to school (oh-oh) and goes on to say “would everybody please give Tara Tsaparis a warm welcome home!”

When the audience began to applaud, he then incredulously said “Tara will you please stand!” STAND? STAND!? Flash forward almost six years later and that is exactly what I have been doing. I’ve been standing and getting on with my life through prayers, support and lots of therapy. I learned to write with my right hand although I still tell people I’m left handed. I play piano with one hand—even Ravel’s Concerto for the “Left-hand”…I adapted that score. I am in Chamber HS Orchestra where I had my viola restrung so I can fiddle with my right hand and bow with my left. I’m the one with the bow flying in the opposite direction. I am on the HS Sophomore swim team, a Red Cross Certified Life Guard and CPR Trained. I’m in the top 7% of my academic class, on my way to becoming a Gold Award (Eagle) Girl Scout and just received my driver’s permit. I still am on the road to recovery and have to keep up with my therapy but yeah, I AM standing! It took a while for me to make this connection but when that principal said “Tara, please stand” I thought “Are you crazy? Don’t you know I had a stroke and have severe paralysis?” But with a little help from my mom and dad on that day in May 2005, I stood and haven’t sat down since!


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Display of the Faces of Stroke stories does not imply National Stroke Association's endorsement of any product, treatment, service or entity. National Stroke Association strongly recommends that people ask a healthcare professional about diagnosis and treatment questions before using any product, treatment or service. The views expressed through the stories reflect those of the authors and do not reflect the opinion of National Stroke Association.

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