Kelly Fucheck – A tough question
The other day I was talking to my son, who is almost 11, and he asked me the most profound question that made me stop cold in my tracks. He said “Mah, I thought only old people had strokes and then died from them. Why did you have one and am I going to have one?”
Now who knows what the look on my face was at that time. I just remember wanting to burst out in tears, then hug him so tight that he’d squeal. In all honesty, I didn’t want to tell him the truth which was Son. I don’t know.
My name is Kelly, I’m a wife, mom of two, music-lover and at the age of 32, I survived two strokes in one day - a Spontaneous Vertebral Artery Tear. This was more than eight years ago and still to this day I remember every single second of those TWO days of pain before I ever sought any medical attention. At the time of my stroke, I was 70lbs heavier, a smoker, stressed out mom of a toddler (my now almost 11-year-old), in a rough patch in my marriage and overall just unhealthy at the time. But. At the time I didn’t know it. I was forever on a “diet”, I walked….to and from my car. I thought I was eating right.
My initial time in ICU was just over a week when we didn’t know what exactly was going to happen. Would I have surgery? When will my strength on my entire left side come back? Will my smile always be jacked up? What in the world did they say about these drugs? Um, honey go get a will done for me. So many things.
But those things were all a blessing. I was alive. PERIOD.
I went through what I call my second recovery because I feel like we never fully recover. We go through phases and flows. So, my second recovery was from day 11 to about 11 months. Where in this time I went through home rehab, re-entrance to work, severe depression, survivors’ guilt, afraid to move my body and the MOST imprinted on my mind, the worry of “will this happen again?”
One day, in about the eleventh month, my doctor told me after reviewing my MRI that I was cleared to start moving my body and get healthy. Well, in my mind, I was like, “Ohhhkayyyy.” How in the world do I do that? He also said, “Give me two minutes on the treadmill.” You know, that treadmill that was in my bedroom, aka the second closet? I removed all the clothes that were on the treadmill and got my water bottle, towel and music ready. Plugged in the key attached to a rope for my “oh crap” moment in case I fell, and hit start. I started my two minutes at a 2.0 on the treadmill and when my two minutes was up, I went out of the bedroom gasping for air. Sweaty as all get out and I looked at my husband and I yelled “People have cars for this! That was horrible!” He just looked at me and said “You know…. if not for you then do it for Tomas.” (our son) I about lost it, that deep dagger in your heart that hits when you know it’s right and I said fine with a very straight face. I continued that 2-minute path for about three weeks, it turned into five minutes and then it turned into the craziest 5k ever. I felt good but still had several issues health wise that seemed to be getting worse and I started studying a more holistic approach in food. I learned how to cook and continued to walk/run. All that running triggered this love-hate relationship with it and now flash forward eight years, I’ve completed countless 5ks, 10ks and six Half Marathons.
All of this from the will to not only get better but to do it for my son. In 2013, we found we were blessed with another baby. With the word that having another child post-stroke may not be the best path for my body, the pregnancy went well and in October of 2013, we had our baby girl Lillian. After she was born, I continued my pursuit of wellness and became more open about my stroke. In 2014, with the sudden passing of my Dad, I started to share my story because he always told me that I was a difference-maker and that I could help so many.
If I were to tell myself eight years ago that stroke doesn’t care what age you are, race, sex etc and that not only F.A.S.T was important but that so was severe vertigo and neck pain in the back of your neck, that seeing things in the mirror and in the air was not normal I may not have waited the two days to go to the doctor. I was blessed beyond belief.
I’ve moved away from quite a few things that don’t suit my purpose. I don’t know why I had my stroke. I wish I knew why I had a tear, what caused my stroke, and if will it happen again. However, I do know that I can teach my kids to live a healthier life and I can also help others do so as well. It fuels me, it’s like this little voice that never goes away. My purpose, my need is to make the most of my second chance, to be the best mom and wife I can be, to teach others how to start their wellness path and to be better than I was yesterday in the pursuit of my goals.
I now own a wellness company called a Size Strong where we assist corporations, schools and households the lifestyle changes needed for wellness and my message is that you don’t have to be a certain size to start your wellness journey. I also pursued a fitness designation to help others in fitness and I co-host a podcast with Amanda DeJesus (a heart transplant survivor) called Unfiltered Survivors to share candidly about stroke and heart disease and heart transplant life.
So, my sweet Tomas, I don’t know the answer to your question. But I do know that I am dedicating the rest of my life to bettering yours. In health, wellness, fitness, mental health and more because you and Lillian are my reason for reinventing myself.