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Kristen P.


There Is a Triathlon in My Future

With each swim stroke, pedal stroke, and run stroke, I am closer to beating this thing called Stroke!

It was a sunny Sunday morning, July 24, 2011. My husband, my friend and I had met that morning for a 60 mile bike ride in preparation for a half Ironman triathlon. The ride was going well, with S. Petersburg, FL, providing a backdrop of 90 degree heat. We were approaching a bridge around the 30-mile mark. I increased my speed to get up the incline. My friend, however, was not going as fast. I got too close and clipped my front wheel with his back wheel. I lost control of the bike, and I went down hard. My husband heard the commotion and turned around to see me on the pavement. My head was bloody and my right shoulder was torn up. An ambulance was called.

I remember the ride to the hospital, no sirens or speeding. After all, I was going to live. I remember all the doctors and nurses in the E.R. It was quiet that day at the hospital. I joked with the doctor as she stitched up my head and cleaned the wound on my shoulder. I was discharged about two hours later. My husband jokingly said the bike accident could derail my triathlon training. Little did he know.

As we walked out of the E.R. I called my Mom to tell her I was A-Okay! As I was getting in to my husband's SUV, I dropped the phone. But I couldn't pick it up. I couldn't move my right side. I was also mumbling incoherently. My husband, thinking I was having an allergic reaction to something used to numb my forehead, rushed me back to the E.R. It was all of about five minutes time, and I was gone.

I woke up two days later in a different hospital. I was in the Intensive Care Unit 20 miles away from where I had remembered. I was told I had a stroke. I had been transported to this hospital because they had the trained personnel to use a MERCI retriever, a device that was used to remove the tissue that was blocking part of my brain. I had a stroke due to a Cardiac Papillary Fibroelastoma. I spent a week in the ICU. I celebrated my 34th birthday there. I learned to shuffle my feet and speak small sentences over the next three weeks in the hospital. I then spent three months with Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapists in an Out Patient Rehab facility where I regained my motions on my right side. Everyone tells me I'm a miracle, what I had been through and where I am now. But I'm just me.

I started back to work full-time this January. I ran a half-marathon this February. I've started biking again, though albeit slowly. I've even ventured in to the pool a couple times. It is a slow process, recovery is. But I know with every swim stroke, pedal stroke, and run stroke, I'll be closer to where I was before this little bump in the road knocked me off my bike.


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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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