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Stroke Hero: Rachel Henry

Together We Can End Stroke, Rachel is Fighting to make sure that Happens!

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Together We Can End Stroke, Rachel is Fighting to make sure that Happens! I slumped to one side. Immediately I could not swallow at all. My doctor came in. They put me in an ambulance and minutes later I was in the ER at St. V’s MED City, being told I was having a STROKE! Absolutely Inconceivable to me! I WAS GETTING TREATMENT FAST. I had a dissection of my vetebral artery. It was a stroke in my brain stem. (no way…I remember thinking. Stroke happened to my grandmother when she was old. I was not old. Stroke happened to Sophia on my favorite TV show, The Golden Girls. But she was old too. And she laughed about it. I was NOT laughing.)

Stroke was not painful for me. It was SILENCE. My body was so quiet and different- I was no longer friends with my body. It did not work with me. 30 years old, female, white and STROKE were not everyday stats. I researched myself in the Medical Library. I was 1 in 1,000,000 for my stroke. Now there are so many strokes affecting young people. I felt like an exhibit on display- not human. The docs did say that it was a non-recurring stroke. If I didn’t have another stroke soon I’d be all set until old age. I didn’t see the grace in that at the time. Great Doctors, Therapists and innovative therapies worked. I had great TREATMENT. I had always asked "Why did I have a stroke, why me? And why didn't I just die rather than live like this?" One day the questions changed to "why not me have a stroke?” And “why was I lucky enough to have it in the doc’s office and receive immediate life-saving care? And what was I saved for? What can I give to the world?" Since that day, and I am not sure what day it was or what inspired the change, (maybe you just get so low, that there is nowhere to go but up. I couldn’t die…) Anyway I embrace my life today, my changes and am grateful for my Stroke. Truly grateful for Stroke.

Today I celebrate each day as a gift. For me it is a much happier way of life. Simpler. I have a family and friends that I cherish and I am a better person to them since my stroke. I didn’t get married and have my miracle son until after my stroke! I consider them bigtime gifts for being a Stroke Survivor. Advocacy for Stroke issues is also huge part of my life today. I have a passion for it and joy from it. I can help other survivors. I can walk and talk. So many who have a stroke, can’t. I can be a voice in Together to End Stroke and reach out to lawmakers. Most important to me, I can speak for those survivors who can’t. For 14 years, I have lived with stroke and been acutely aware that I am blessed.

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