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Nancy B.


On February 7, 2010 at the young age of 54, the unthinkable happened: a hemorrhagic stroke. A blood vessel broke in the right side of my brain. It is amazing how important a little blood vessel can be.

In the time since then, I have re-learned to do many of the things I used to do. I have been fortunate in having my long term memory intact. Other things are difficult for me to do, or take longer than they should. Some are in the middle.

I have been the guest speaker at our local Stroke Club at a hospital in Chicago. While still in the hospital from the stroke, I received a day-pass so I could be a speaker at Our World-Underwater, a dive expo that my husband and I have been a part of for 30 years. At the 2011 show, I will have two programs, "Returning to Diving after a Stroke" and "Beaches, Bars, and Barbados." I was also the Photo Judge for the Ramon Bravo Photo Challenge.

I have done absolutely everything that has been recommended to me, and I believe this is why I have healed quickly. Do what your therapists tell you to do. Although this may be your first stroke, you are not their first stroke patient. I have done the exercises, took the Fundamentals of Fitness class, joined a health club, take different exercise classes, and returned to photography with garden photography first, then underwater photography. 

I recommend everyone get their blood pressure checked out, lose the extra weight, and eat properly. It is as simple as that. There are so many things that seemed ok in our prior lives. But now we need to redo them. I wish I could be as independent as I was before. I still cannot drive. It will take a while to get there again. While a trip to the therapy center might seem easy to you, it is important and difficult for me. This stroke took place just a few weeks after learning to teach handicapped people to dive. I never expected to become one of the first people I taught. I was thankful then that I was a healthy person. I have been given the written OK to get back into the water to teach diving, teach handicapped people to dive, Emergency First Response, and photography again. 

If you are going to have a stroke, having one at a young age may seem a bummer...but it seems the greatest chances of recovery are when one is young. When I have a moment and I even think about feeling sorry for myself...I think about other people who are far worse off than me. At the same time I had the stroke, I learned that I had CLL, a form of leukemia.  While I don't look forward to chemo, at least I am alive.


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