I was recently asked by a member of Tedy’s Team from the American Stroke Association to share my story with other team members. I am posting my reply to this request because I want to remind everyone why my stroke blog exists today as well as why it is so important that we all make the time to “Give a Little Bit” of ourselves, our energy, our resources, and our voices. Here’s my reply:
Thank you for your offer to share my story. I wanted to let you know that each time our group meets I get a chance to introduce myself to another member of Tedy’s Team and am inspired by their stories. Although this is only my second year involved with Tedy’s Team, I believe what you are doing to try to create a forum or real voice for stroke support is fantastic. I hope other members will be willing to share their “why” to help build on the knowledge of why we all meet and run together each year to raise funds for this important cause.
I had a stroke at age 39. I had no known risk factors, and other than dealing with unexplained migraine headaches, I was in good health. My stroke was caused by a PFO- a hole in my heart that was a hidden birth defect until it caused a clot to go to my brain. Just like Tedy Bruschi, I was not aware of this defect until it caused my stroke. I know I am blessed to be on my way to a full recovery and it continues to be my goal to help educate others who may also unknowingly be at risk. To learn more about how a PFO caused my stroke please read my story at: http://www.my-physical-therapy-coach.com/patent-foramen-ovale.html
Last year I completed my 1st Falmouth Road Race with Tedy’s Team as a sign to my real stroke hero,my wife Lisa, that “I am back” and I could not have survived without her unconditional love and support. I also wanted to show my children that daddy does indeed “feel better”! Finally, I also felt it was important to run as a gesture of thanks for the exceptional care I received at Mass. General Hospital and in support of “our quarterbacks” for the mission of Tedy’s Team, Tedy and Heidi Bruschi.
This year, I plan to run Falmouth in honor and support of all the stroke survivors that have contacted me through my website and by phone. I am running for Ray, Melissa, Jen, Regina, Sandy, Jeff, Vicky, Will and especially to the parents of a boy in RI who I recently learned lost their young son after he suffered a massive stroke from a previously undiagnosed PFO. Also for the other survivors I did not mention by name who contacted me by phone looking for answers or just to find the voice of someone who does know-stroke and is willing to give a little bit and share insight behind a diagnosis. Their stories are all too similar to mine, and I know now that my heart has been repaired I have a new determination to keep educating others. Just a short time ago, I walked in their shoes and had no one my age to speak to that had survived a stroke from this cause. Please read these stroke survivors stories or add your own here at my blog know-stroke.org
The completion of the road race this year also will reaffirm my long term goal to expand the educational campaign I refer to as Know-Stroke or as some of my friends are also referring to it as the “Countdown to Oprah” challenge to gain national awareness and raise more funds for stroke education and prevention. (If you read my full story at the link above you’ll learn
more about my “Oprah moment” and you’ll understand why I keep my story out there and why perhaps Zack probably still thinks I am crazy…) Anyway, my heart is decided on this challenge. It has been just over 1 year since my heart surgery, and I have been migraine free with a clear head for exactly that same time period.
As it turns out during my stroke season, I found out many physicians also need more training and awareness to screen for stroke, especially where it relates to this possible heart/brain/migraine connection. It is my goal to help raise awareness for stroke by advocating for research to develop a better understanding of this connection between the heart and brain and better education and awareness for screening tools for physicians,
To that end, I have teamed up with Tedy’s Team and the Boston and Rhode Island affiliates of the American Heart/Stroke Associations to help raise awareness. There is a great need for better education and research because as you may already know this heart defect can be potentially devastating, especially for young stroke and migraine survivors that often get misdiagnosed or ignored due to age. This is why I run.
Thank you for your help and for allowing me a chance to share my story.
If you would like to speak to me personally about donations, fundraising ideas, or ways you could help raise awareness in your own neighborhood please contact me directly at (401)632-0868 or donate here
ps-to my fellow Tedy’s Team members, please feel free to be the 1st to share your own story on my blog at the Tedy’s Team link