You are here

Sherrie S.

March 11, 2015

I am ... A Survivor

On July 15, 2014 I experienced a brainstem stroke and as devastating as it was to have a life threatening event, I am thankful for a second chance to make my life better. To better explain who I am I wrote this not to long ago about my feelings after my stroke. 

Stroke does not define who I am, it only makes me want to work harder to prove that I can thrive again. It is human instinct to want to survive and thrive in this world as well as live, love and laugh. Does my deficits make me less a woman? No they most certainly do not, my deficits are my scars that I carry to remind me that I am a fighter. My inability to walk gives me the ability to stand and try. My pain gives me the ability to be strong for others. My experience gives me the ability to be empathetic to others who are like me. My stroke mind gives me the empowerment to help others and support others in their journey towards independence. I look into the many faces of stroke and I say no you cannot dictate my life. I will not let you win, for I am a warrior for the cause and I will face it directly and overcome.

I am strong in my beliefs of recovery. My story is not a dramatic one, but a story about being afraid. When I experienced the stroke I felt dizzy and confused. I walked into work and my employees ask me what was wrong. I remember stating that I was dizzy and then the next thing I remember I was in the emergency room with a doctor asking me question which made me that much more confused. He told me that he thought I was experiencing a TIA because I started moving my left side and was speaking clearer now as apposed to a few minutes ago. I was told I was being admitted to the neurology unit of our hospital and would be further evaluated by a neurologist. Test were performed, drawing of blood and a CAT scan. All of these test came back normal except my glucose which was high. The physical effects that I was feeling were tingling and numbness of the left side of my body. I experienced slurring of speech and I was unable to think of what words to say. I had a severe headache and some blurred vision. I was sent to the neurology floor where I slept through the night except when the nurse came in to do neuro-checks. Oddly, the neuro check did not raise me from my slumber as they should have. I woke the next morning very scared and wondering what was going on.

A nurse came in and said that I was going to be sent to have an MRI at our sister hospital. Later that day I was sent for the MRI and when I returned back at my hospital, my regular doctor came in an stated that the neurologist should be in shortly to explain the MRI results. The neurologist came and explained that I did not have a TIA, but I had a brainstem stroke in the Pons area of the brain. He stated that I would need PT, OT and speech therapy and that he would add other medicines to my list of meds to take. When he told me I had a brainstem stroke I began to cry, mostly because I was scared, but I knew that this was only the beginning of a long recovery I would endure. I started PT and OT and speech therapy. It was discovered that I had mild aphasia, difficulty swallowing and left deficit of my arm and leg. I entered inpatient therapy where I stayed nine days, and had very extensive therapy that was really good for me. I was walking small distances with a AFO but was very weak. I needed to work on strength and endurance. After inpatient therapy I was given out patient therapy and am still going two times a week. To make a long story shorter, I am so grateful to be alive. I share my story as often as I can to make people aware of how to recognize someone who is having a stroke, and make them realize they have to get to a emergency room quickly to receive the proper care and maybe life saving drugs that will lower the deficit of a stroke. I will continue to bring stroke awareness to the forefront of everything I do.

Sincerely and happy in life,
Sherrie Smithers

Faces of Stroke Follow-Up: 

I have started my own online support group which is a god send for me. It has helped me so much, I discovered that experiencing this stroke has given me a desire to help other stroke survivors. My group is very successful and very positive. If you would like to review my stroke survivor group please do at

Find a Support Group


Get Involved


For over 30 years we have been the trusted source for free resources and education to the stroke community. Together, we empower survivors and their circle of care to thrive after stroke. Make your tax-deductible donation today to support the growing needs of the stroke community.