Lee Stroy – A Stroke Story
Lee Stroy, a father of five, was looking forward to Christmas. Amidst the hubbub of preparations, 37-year-old Lee woke up on December 23, 2014 with a serious numbness on his left side.
He attempted to get up, but his foot kept slipping from underneath him. He struggled to get to the stairs, and after what felt like 20 minutes of incoherent mumbling, Lee got his wife’s attention and she immediately called 911.
When the ambulance arrived, he was coherent and his slurred speech returned to normal. But after a blood pressure read of 190/120, the paramedics transported him to the hospital. While in the emergency room, Lee’s symptoms returned and then left again. An MRI and a CAT scan later, Lee was diagnosed with a stroke.
"I had no idea—never knowing what a stroke was—that I had family members that had strokes, and I automatically assumed it was because they were older,” Lee recounts. Lee discovered that other factors exacerbated his genetic predisposition for stroke: his high blood pressure, smoking, stress, and diagnosis of high cholesterol and diabetes. Oddly enough, Lee's doctor had prescribed him blood pressure medication the week before, but Lee decided not to take it until after the holidays.
On Christmas morning, Lee woke up confused with limited mobility, severe facial drooping, and slurred speech. He had another stroke. After the doctors stabilized his blood pressure, he spent three weeks in recovery at the Mt. Vernon rehabilitation center. He experienced his third and final stroke there.
When he did return home, everything was different. Lee couldn’t drive or work. He took nine pills a day and attend physical and occupational therapy. Lee found that he was hypersensitive to his children’s piercing laughter and bright lights. Lee was in denial for a long time about his strokes—resisting the time it would take to recover. A year and a half of physical therapy and diet changes produced minimal results and after being admitted to the hospital over ten times, Lee was left frustrated.
His life changed after he read A Setback Is a Setup for a Comeback by Willie Jolley. "After I started to change my frame of mind, literally my recovery started to occur. I had to allow myself to go through different emotions to begin my recovery physically. Change…especially involuntary change, is a process," says Lee. Slowly, Lee’s mobility and positive thinking became more consistent. Throughout his recovery, Lee met amazing people from the medical industry and other stroke survivors. He discovered that speaking about his journey helped his on-going recovery while also helping and inspiring others. Lee began a nonprofit and devoted himself to spreading awareness about stroke prevention and recovery.
While everyone's stroke recovery journey is different, there are things that remain the same; for everyone, healing is a process. For him, helping others through their own prevention or recovery is therapeutic. "I'm embracing where I am right now with my recovery," he says, "and if I can help others, that's exactly what I want to do. The best is yet to come."
Lee’s story is featured in LAI’s Video documentary on stroke survivors, A Teachable Moment.
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