Chris Roberson, 61 year old, decided to take a time out from teaching her third grade student. Chris had been teaching forty years, but this day in May 2004 she was in the hospital for a heart procedure to receive stents. Chris was looking forward to teaching "a few more years."
"The procedure for the stents went fine. I was thankful my family physician had referred me to the cardiologist as I have heart history in my family big time. My father died of heart disease at age 57 and I have three uncles who died at early ages, too. My symptoms were mild though, my back was hurting and I felt tired quite abit. I was a heavy smoker. I wanted to wait it out to see if I would begin to feel better but my physician referred me to the cardiologist who ordered a stress test."
"I vividly recall my stress test was on Friday, I had a procedure to put stents in on Monday, apparently, I had my stroke shortly after, but I was semiconscious and did not realize until Wednesday. My speech, ability to think, and my right arm and foot were affected. I couldn't eat, either. By Friday the medical team had me on the Rehabilitation Unit where we, my family and myself learned that I had aphasia and apraxia. I could understand and had high level listening skills but I couldn't speak. I have difficulty sounding out and sequencing words." According to Chris's speech therapist she has improved dramatically. Now Chris has completed outpatient speech therapy and continues rehabilitation on her own by using talking books and tapes from the local library. She can understand what she reads, but reading out loud is difficult at best.
Although time has passed Chris wants people to know two things. One, that therapy is very important, it lays the foundation for continuing to work independently. Therapy is just the beginning......in addition to formal therapy she continues to attend Aphasia and Stroke Support Group, golfing and many other community activities. Everything that you do to help yourself is so important. And secondly, that there is one thing that all of us have in common, stroke crosses all lines, it knows no age or ethnic background so be proactive in taking care of yourself.