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Rachel S.

May 26, 2015

I am ... Other

There was a delicious, uttering silence, but it was not silence, they were words, words that I was saying, but they were not really words, I thought they were words. They were pretend words spoken in the same cadence as real words. This is what I experienced when I had a stroke in March 2002. In March 2002, I had 2 TIAs and 1 stroke which left me with inability to speak. I was 24 years old at the time without any causes of a stroke; no birth control, I was not smoking and I was active. After many tests were performed numerously, there was no cause of the stroke. I spent 2 1/2 months in inpatient rehab for physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Basic everyday activties were hard for me given the anxiety that I had. I was a graduate student studying occupational therapy, learning how to live again. It was my goal to finish my graduate degree (I had 6 weeks of classes left before starting my clinical rotation), take my exam and to get a job. So after I was discharged from inpatient rehab, I had outpatient occupational therapy and speech therapy until september 2004. The occupational therapy and the speech therapy taught me how to live and to communicate again with compensatory methods. I would be lost without my post-it notes. In september 2004, I returned to my studies as an Occupational therapy student. I finally finished my internships October 2005 and received my masters. One goal was achieved. My next goal was to pass my OT exam. I made it my fulltime job of studying. I would break up my day with exercising since exercising is of utmost importance in my life. In February 2006, I got my first job as an Occupational Therapist and in March 2006 I took and passed my exam.  I've now been working as an occupational therapist for 5 years presently working on the stroke unit. My next 2 goals were achieved. In December 2007 I completed my first half marathon (3 hours, 14 minutes and 14 seconds )to raise money for stroke (Train to end stroke) and I completed my secondary half marathon in April 2009 for the same cause completing the marathon in 3 hours, 10 min.  My most recent goal was presenting at a brain injury symposium to educate on my experience and what rehab taught me and to be a support for others who were injury more recently.  I have also presented at other brain injury symposiums to educate others on working with a brain injury.  I have presented at speech language classes to educate students on my experience as a stroke survivor and having overcome aphasia.  I have recently become a certified brain injury specialist having reviewed and studied material and taken a class and an exam.   Having goals has helped me be the best I can be and to achieve more and more to be a success as an individual and in my profession.

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