Annie Smith - Stroke Survivor
Annie shared her story as part of a video series produced for American Stroke Month by Together to End Stroke national sponsor, Bayer Aspirin. Here, she shares her thoughts on what making the video meant to her.
The physical and psychological effects of the stroke made participating in a video intimidating as the stroke affected my feelings of competence and self-image.
First, I question my ability and decisions constantly because I had to re-learn basic things (i.e. dressing, cleaning, thinking, and driving) and I continually provide my brain with experiences that allow it to recall and create the ability to organize and perform numerous physical and cognitive tasks.
Second, for two years after the stroke, my weight fluctuated, making it hard to find clothes that fit. My wardrobe is still somewhat limited, and I feel it does not reflect my personal style.
Finding a way to reclaim my life and embrace an unfamiliar identity is challenging.
Yet, I don’t want to be pitied. So, I didn’t know how I would look or sound on camera. Currently, I accept that I may never look or feel the same.
I didn’t consider myself at risk of stroke; I didn’t have high blood pressure or diabetes; I exercised and completed annual checkups, but I didn’t know why or how stroke occurs.
Consequently, I am forced to accept the person I am at the present moment. This allows me to forget my ego and concentrate on using my time to improve my life and try and help others.
When given the opportunity, I like to share my story in case it encourages anyone in a similar situation.
I hope the video will create an awareness of the possible devastation of stroke and some of its underlying causes. The unknown can be hard to confront or even survive—awareness and knowledge are essential and can be lifesaving.
Tell us: How do you feel about sharing your stroke story? Register for the Support Network and reply in the comments below.