The Stroke Made Me Stronger
When the paramedics came, they asked me to name the president of the United States. I said, "Ford. No. Reagan. No. Bush."
It was 1991. George H. W. Bush was president and I was a 22-year-old graduate student studying journalism at the University of Southern California. I'd just had a stroke.
I was born with a weak blood vessel in my brain, an arteriovenous malformation. When the vessel burst, the symptoms were immediate: the inability to move my right leg, a pounding headache at the base of my skull and then paralysis on the right side of my body. I also had difficulty speaking and recalling my words. How could I pursue journalism when I couldn't even name a vegetable?
Over the next several months, however, I worked hard. I learned how to walk and talk again, as well as perform basic tasks for myself. I graduated from a wheelchair to a walker to a cane. I went back to school with a cane and a leg brace and got my master's degree. I became a writer.
I'm healthy and strong now. There is no physical evidence of what I've been through. I'm blessed with a wonderful husband and daughter. I'm not sorry the stroke happened. It made me stronger. If I can overcome that, I can overcome anything.