Kathleen - St. Louis, MO

Updated:Sep 20,2010

Age: 58
Name: Kathleen H
Location: St Louis, MO


We tend to put off taking care of ourselves for many reasons. Believe me when I tell you that there are better motivations out there than trying to avoid ANOTHER stroke.


My life before my 31st wedding anniversary was that of a 289 pound 5'4 woman, working in a stressful job, trying to be sure her children graduated from college...something that I had not completed myself and always said I would. I did not eat right, did not exercise, came home at night and pretty much collapsed and most times was so tired, I would pick up food (already prepared) on the way home. I had attempted to lose weight before, knowing that my Dad and all but one of his siblings died from the whole diabetes/heart disease issue and I had lost 30 pounds which I thought odd, because I wasn't trying that hard...now know weight loss is one of the signs.

On the evening of February 4, 2008, the night before our 31st wedding anniversary, I came home after running errands with my husband and started feeling "funny". I remember a very rapid sensation of a "zipper" going up from my left foot to my head and when I looked at our TV I saw a small black "hole" in the picture and then saw some green and red "sparkles". I told my husband something was not right and we decided to go to the hospital. I walked down my city dweller 18 steps to the car, walked into the ER. It was the height of flu season and they were crowded, but luckily they took me right away.

My CT was negative and the following morning as they were waiting for some blood samples to come back before discharging me, they were moving me away from the flu patients and asked if I wanted to stop at the restroom. Stepped off the gurney and down I went....I remember the Dr. saying to me "Kathy, you've had a stroke and how long have you had Diabetes?" My two worst nightmares within a fraction of a second!

I began my new life that day. This recovery has been life-changing, incredibly difficult and filled with blessings. After the stroke, I could not walk, my balance was gone and I had visual left neglect...and I had to go through life as a diabetic!!! The shock and terror of those first few days I can't even put into words..what was my future...if I had one??...was I on the path of my Dad and his siblings?? I was blessed with a great acute care therapy team and one month later, I walked out of the hospital...I walked funny but I walked!! I was already off insulin.

Today, I am driving thanks to a driving program for stroke survivors, I volunteer one day a week on the floor where I learned to walk again and one day a week at the Rehab Institute where I got my life back. I facilitate a peer support group for stroke survivors every two weeks...best of all I am down to one diabetic pill per day and my goal is to get of that by the end of 2010.

I am convinced that not only with the love and support of my husband and my children,but even my Mom and siblings and my many nieces and nephews along with true friends that came from everywhere and of course, my therapists...my wonderful, wonderful therapists, I am on a course. When I feel like I am never going to fully recover, somewhere, somehow, one of them calls or comes by and says just the right things.

If I could give advice to those out there who are overweight, don't exercise, have diabetes and heart disease already in their genealogy,,,DON'T WAIT!! Start out moving just a little. Make it your business to learn about carbs, fat cholesterol, etc. There are so many things available through the Heart and Stroke Associations.

We tend to put off taking care of ourselves for many reasons..we aren't motivated because it means real change....and we'll start that tomorrow...sound familiar? We are fooling ourselves!! You think it won't happen to you...I am here to tell you it most certainly can happen..DON'T WAIT!! Believe me when I tell you that there are better motivations out there than trying to avoid ANOTHER stroke....not only that ... you really do feel better when you eat right and exercise...the irony is...I wouldn't have really bought into that line of thinking two years ago either..Nothing worse than a convert!!



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