Before he had an ischemic stroke, Jerry was living a good life—working hard running an appliance delivery company—and playing hard, too. He enjoyed parties and picnics, a couple of drinks and cigarettes every day, and a CB radio hobby. That all changed in November of 2003 when he suffered a heart attack, underwent angioplasty, and then had a stroke.
Jerry is no longer able to drive, and that makes it hard to get where he needs to go. Walking is difficult, too, because balance and strength aren’t what they used to be. And because he has a tendency to choke, eating has become a challenge as well. Jerry has lost 80 pounds since that fateful day in 2003….and he’s stopped smoking.
Since coming to the ASF, Jerry reports that he’s regained much of the strength that his stroke took from him. He’s done that through participation in the fitness program. He is also very fond of the wii, especially the bowling and golf games. He plays pool, too, and has made quite a few friends along the way. He still sees room to improve himself physically, mentally, and socially so he’s set some goals for himself: to continue to gain strength, to improve his balance, to become even better educated about stroke, and to meet new people.
Marvin attends the Missouri Wellness Center and is a favorite of all. He’s quick with a smile and takes time to visit with everybody he meets. He is recognized as a leader within the group, too—he was elected to the ASF Council, a group that serves to inform the staff about the programs that work, any ideas for new activities, and member concerns. Marvin is in a wheelchair as a result of his stroke, but that doesn’t keep him down. He loves to play with the grandkids, go to concerts and plays, and watch movies. He’s a great cook—and he loves to eat!
Before he had a stroke in 2007, Marvin was a foreman for Kemper Arena and also enjoyed physical activities like carpentry and yard work in his spare time. That changed for him when he suffered a left-sided intracranial hemorrhage. “I got out of bed to go to the bathroom and fell down”, said Marvin. “My legs felt wobbly…..so I called my mom. She thought I was having a stroke”. Marvin didn’t go to the hospital that day—he slept instead and felt much better when he awoke. But that was a warning sign of what was to come. A month later, it happened again—and this time, Marvin headed for the doctor. “I kept knocking into people and my blood pressure was really high”, he related. The doctor sent him home, but it was just a matter of time before he had a stroke. This time, he tried to answer the door and his right leg gave out completely. “The ambulance came and they took me to the hospital”, Marvin said as he continued his story. “They told me I had a stroke…and I had surgery”.
Fast forward to today. Marvin will tell you that he’s putting a positive spin on his experience. He values every minute more than he used to because he knows that life can be short. And he takes things more seriously now; that includes taking full advantage of all that the ASF has to offer. He’s learned much more about stroke; his right arm and leg and stronger and better; and he he’s eating a healthier diet. Marvin sums up his ASF experience like this: “I’ve gotten a lot of support here physically and emotionally.”
Jennie was busy enjoying life—running the Blue Rose bar with her husband of 18 years, reading, going to movies, dining out—and playing cards. All kinds of cards—poker, pitch and rummy. In 2008, though, life dealt her a new and different hand—she had an ischemic stroke. It happened when she was in the bathroom, getting ready to leave work.
Life has been a struggle for Jennie since that day in 2008. She has a hard time getting around and thinking clearly. She can’t work at the bar anymore but, instead, participates in ASF activities and a rehabilitation program at Shawnee Mission Medical Center.
What would Jennie tell you about her ASF experience? She especially likes the socialization that she finds with other stroke survivors, staff, students, and volunteers. And she participates in the fitness program. As a result of the latter, she is stronger and more limber. Jennie would tell you, too, that she’s not finished—her goals include better walking and more frequent exercise.
Before June of 2005, Carolyn was a busy, independent woman. She’d been married for 29 years, was employed as a manufacturer representative, and had recently celebrated her daughter’s graduation from Kansas State University. Besides keeping the household up and running, she found time to enjoy her friends, dine out, shop, scrapbook, and entertain.
Carolyn was giving a sales presentation on the third of June when she started to feel dizzy. She dropped her day planner and fell when she attempted to pick it up. Although she told her district manager that she felt okay, he knew better when he asked her squeeze both of his hands—and her left hand wouldn’t cooperate. He made sure then that emergency services were called. Carolyn had suffered an ischemic stroke.
And her life has changed. Carolyn walks without a cane but can’t use her left arm. She has a condition known as ‘left neglect’ so she can no longer drive or cook. For these reasons, she states, her stroke has also affected the lives of her husband and daughter, too.
Carolyn participates in the programs of the American Stroke Foundation and she enjoys many things about it—socializing with others, participating in fitness activities, and learning about stroke. She has set some goals for her future: she hopes to improve her movement and walking, and, sometime in the future, she’d love to be able to drive and cook again.
Dave (on the left ) was an active guy. He worked in the shipping and receiving department of an environmental company—and that meant he walked eight to ten miles each day. His leisure activities included fishing, riding a dirt bike, and participating in autocross formula 500 racing. He also spent time with his family—his wife and son, who has Down syndrome.
Dave had an ischemic stroke in October 2008. It started when he had surgery three days prior to remove a blood clot from his arm. All seemed well until he tried to climb down the stairs in his house—and the room ‘felt wobbly’. Although he got himself to the phone and was able to dial, he couldn’t make himself understood; he had to walk to the neighbor’s, ten minutes away, to get the help that he needed.
Today, Dave deals with residuals of his stroke—pain on his right side, a decreased attention span, and trouble with reading and math. That hasn’t stopped him, though—he still enjoys reading and writing poetry. Working fulltime is no longer possible; Dave tried a stint as a crossing guard but he had to give that up due to the weather. He’s found another calling, though—he performs janitorial and handyman services for the American Stroke Foundation.
Because of his stroke, Dave has met many people that have had strokes.
And Dave keeps seeing the positives of his situation every day. He states that he’s met and connected with many fellow stroke survivors. He enjoys having a place to come where he can learn what to do about his stroke and to become more comfortable with himself. He enjoys the friendship and laughter—and he enjoys helping others any way he can. What does the future hold? Dave wants to keep attending the American Stroke Foundation so that he can continue to contribute—can continue to help others—the way the American Stroke Foundation has helped him.
Debra was s busy, productive 39 year old when she had a stroke, the result of a ruptured brain aneurysm. She was working two jobs and was active in her church. But on October 20, 2007, Debra felt ill while singing in the choir. She passed out and, when she regained consciousness, much of her world had changed.
Today, Debra has aphasia, a condition which makes it difficult to communicate everything she wants to say. She can no longer work, sing in the church choir, or spend as much time with her grandchildren as she’d like. However, she has made new and meaningful friendships at the American Stroke Foundation and she cherishes this newfound camaraderie very much. She also enjoys the activities offered by the organization; the exercise program is giving her an opportunity to feel more fit, and she continues to increase her ability to communicate. That means that she can continue to socialize with other stroke survivors, too. Her goals for the future? Debra hopes to continue to improve her speech, and to lead an overall healthier lifestyle.
Edi was a preschool teacher in England until she met and married her husband, Bill—and moved to the United States. She enjoyed many things in life like going out with friends, sewing, reading, roller skating, cooking, and keeping up with her son and grandson back in England.
In summer of 2006, Edi was hosting a party for her husband’s 60th birthday at a local Mexican restaurant. She began to feel tired, put her head down on the table, and stated that she wasn’t feeling well. Her grandson tried to awaken her but couldn’t. Her sister-in-law, a nurse, suspected that Edi might be having a stroke and family members got her to the hospital. Indeed, she had had a hemorrhagic stroke; once stabilized, the 52 year old endured four brain surgeries before the bleeding on her brain could be stopped.
Edi’s life was turned upside down as a result of her stroke. She now must use a cane or wheelchair for mobility and she cannot use her left arm or hand. She has also battled constant feelings of anger towards her situation. But she reports that, as time has passed, she has made many meaningful friendships and has gained insight into her stroke.
The American Stroke Foundation has given Edi an important and meaningful outlet. She enjoys socialization with fellow survivors, staff, students and volunteers. And she participates in a variety of activities. Edi believes that her strength and energy have increased because of the ASF’s fitness program. Overall, she knows that her social participation has increased and her outlook on life has improved as a result of coming to the American Stroke Foundation. And she has one, overarching goal for her future: to continue working on her road to recovery.
Jim G. was enjoying the good life at age 56—he’d retired from the Kansas City Fire Department after 27 years of service. He’d been married for 16 years and could spend more time with his wife and two children. And he enjoyed traveling, playing golf and going out with friends. But life threw him a curveball on Christmas day of 2007.
That morning, Jim fell out of bed. He attempted to pull himself back up but only made it halfway. He asked his wife to call 911—he’d had an ischemic stroke. That stroke affected Jim’s left side, making it difficult for him to write or hold anything in the left hand. He also had to give up driving. Understandably, Jim was quite angry about his situation. However, as time passed, he leaned to better manage the anger related to his stroke.
Jim is a member of the American Stroke Foundation where he enjoys the friendships that he has made. He likes many of the activities offered there, too, including: “Wake Up Your Brain,” the fitness program, Music with Maggie, and arts and crafts time. Coming to American Stroke Foundation has made Jim realize that he is not alone. He is able to see other survivors do things that he can’t do, which gives him hope. His goal for the future is to continue to get better overall.
Prior to her left-side ischemic stroke in 2005, Marilyn was tough to pin down. She worked as an administrative assistant to a social worker where she scheduled appointments, checked insurance, and handled collections. When she wasn’t at work, she could be found tending to the sick, participating in church activities, or enjoying her two children and four grandchildren—often heading to the City Market or the park together. Otherwise, Marilyn could be found cooking in her kitchen, or working on her computer.
In January of 2005, Marilyn was at work when she started feeling “funny”. She had a bad headache, was having difficulty with her speech, and was told by a coworker that one eye looked different from the other. She headed home and, when a friend came to check on her, Marilyn was unable to describe what she was experiencing. That friend called a nurse’s hotline, then 911—and Marilyn was taken to KU Medical Center. They confirmed the stroke that the hotline nurse had suspected.
And life had changed in a big way. Because her speech was affected by the stroke, Marilyn had to learn to talk all over again. She has trouble with numbers, like getting telephone numbers mixed up when writing them down. She also struggles with walking and trips easily.
Marilyn enjoys coming to the American Stoke Foundation and is thankful for the new friends she’s met. She enjoys fitness, socialization and games. And she credits the American Stroke Foundation for her ability to talk and write again. Her future goals include continuing to improve her cognitive functioning and her physical fitness.