Hi, my name is Valerie. I was a professional singer and also a lawyer, and a proud voting member of the Grammy's. I'm 42 with no health issues. I'm always going full steam ahead, I had my own law firm and got accepted to Berklee summer jazz clinics in Umbria, Italy for the second time. I was psyched to go there in July. I booked everything. I decided that because I had no music degree, yet other degrees, including a J.D., that maybe I would apply to a Master's program for entry in fall of 2015. I wanted a formal music education. Life was perfect for me. My singing career was finally taking off. I walked the red carpet at the Grammy awards in L.A. in February, albeit as a guest, but I still walked it. I was happy. On June 1, 2014, I went to a hospital in the late afternoon after just a couple of days with neck pain. I just wanted to be sure it wasn't anything serious. I was told to go home and rest, that I maybe had slept the wrong way. I then went home and went to sleep. A couple of hours later, I awoke and saw double and had severe, crazy dizziness and couldn't move my left side. I could still speak and understand it all. However, my neck pain was apparently a bilateral dissected artery which formed a blood clot that traveled to my brain stem and then caused an ischemic stroke. I was rushed via ambulance to the hospital, but then taken to another hospital that eventually found the clot. I now have no singing voice, which was my biggest passion in life and something I'd worked so hard to achieve all these years, although I understand music, still read it, and remember every bit of it. I can do one handed piano chords. I can't be a lawyer for now. I've come to terms with that. Singing voice no way. Not a chance. Give it back the way it was, now!!!!! I went from having no left, in a bed, to a wheelchair and now just a single point cane and brace. Sometimes I cheat and walk around the house with no cane. I just came home from rehab in boston last week. I am determined to get it all back, and because stroke decided to do this to me, I want it back better than before for ruining my summer music plans and causing chaos in my life. My dizziness has lessened somewhat but I keep going, it won't stop me. I refuse to be anything less than what I was. I also fenced, the épée sword, for years, as well as danced for 22 years. My vision is normal now, no longer double. I can swallow and eat normally. I speak and understand normally, although I admittedly have little patience. I had that pre-stroke as well. I work hard every day to regain my left side. My face is normal now too, except only I can see a slightly higher eyebrow on one side. I look like a tourist because I wear a hat, rx sunglasses, and a fanny pack for my stuff when I leave the house. I attend outpatient therapies and take every opportunity to challenge myself. I will be normal again. I destroy stroke. You got that, stroke? You're destroyed. How dare you mess with me? Best and love to all. There is hope no matter what...just don't give up ever, and don't let it win. Valerie. Photo credit courtesy of Kristin gillis photography 2014.
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