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Michael D.

Caregiver & Family

My Wife, My Inspiration

I have learned over the past 4 years that there is a celebration among stroke survivors of what they like to call their re-birthday. This is the day that they all bravely acknowledge the date that their lives started over as a result of having survived one of the most traumatic experiences a person could endure. I understand and appreciate the fact that, as a survivor, your life has had a dramatic change and you have been reborn into a different life. You are all to be honored for facing the challenges head on and that you have not let your stroke defeat or define you as a person.

As a spouse, partner, caregiver and loved one, March 31 is a very special day, one that I choose to celebrate. This is the anniversary of the day that I brought my future wife home from the hospital. March 31, 2007, was the day that Karen came to what was going to become OUR home together, and began her continued recovery.

When Karen became a survivor she was in Washington State on a business trip. We were planning on a wedding in July of that year and she was living in sunny Southern California. She was at my home in Washington State, and on the morning of March 2, 2007, I watched helplessly as she stood in my kitchen and had what I knew was a stroke. The feeling of watching the woman you love with all your heart go through this and not being able to do anything about it was devastating to me.

Karen never lost her smile. The month she spent in the hospital she told the nurses and the rehab staff that she would give 100% towards her recovery and that she expected nothing less from them. Her life had changed. When she was released, the doctors would not approve her to fly and a car trip to Los Angeles would not have been a safe journey to make. She was now a resident of Washington whether she wanted to be or not. She came back with me to a home nestled in the trees in south east Pierce County. It was a big change from the bright lights and asphalt of Southern California.

Still, she made the best of it and began planning for our July 7, 2007 wedding, which was going to take place near Riverside, California. Her goal was to walk down the aisle without the use of a walker or cane. Through her hard work and diligence she achieved that goal, and has never looked back. The wedding was beautiful and was the greatest day of my life.

Karen now spends her day, every day, raising awareness of strokes in people of all ages, especially the young.

She is a Member of National Stroke Association and a Steering Committee Member of the Stroke Advocacy Network. Karen co-founded the online support group "Reclaiming Ourselves" www.reclaimingourselves.com, which helps stroke survivors all over the world. She also created a Facebook page to help bring more young adult survivors together www.facebook.com/reclaimingourselves.

In June 2011, together with members of the Stroke Advocacy Network, Karen will speak to legislators on Capitol Hill in Washington DC on behalf of stroke survivors. The day afer she returns home Karen will be participating in her first 1/2 marathon in Seattle, WA.

Karen also volunteers her time speaking to local organizations, events and businesses as a Go Red for Women Ambassador in Tacoma, WA.

Karen is an inspiration to all who know her. She encourages all survivors to not let their stroke define who they are and not let it become their new normal. Through hard work and a positive attitude they can reclaim their lives and move on.

Karen continues to be my strength and inspiration. In addition to being my wife, she is my best friend, counselor and confidant. She has never let self pity get a hold on her and wants more than anything to have a positive effect on everybody she meets. She is beautiful, strong, funny, and supportive. She knows how to comfort me and has taught me that the kind of love we all search for does exist. Hers is an unconditional love and she gives it freely and without reserve.


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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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