How I Came Back to Running After a Stroke
In July of 2014, I had a stroke.
I had the choice to move forward or curl up and give up.
I chose to move forward.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t an easy task. At times I wished I had chosen the other, but that is not me by any means. Doesn’t mean it is a easy road; it has been a very emotional and physically draining at times. This runner even had to use a walker! (If any of you know me that didn’t last long.)
Slowly Running Again
When I was having my stroke, I remember grabbing the neurologists hand and asking if I would be able to do the Revel Rocky half marathon (down a mountain) in August. I think he just said yes to settle me down. I remember being in the ICU unable to walk. The first time I tried (with a physical therapist’s help) I could only go a little ways, but every day we worked on going a little bit farther.
The day they moved me out of the ICU I was so happy to get out of there. I was ready to work hard in physical therapy, not be restricted to my bed with alarms. As a runner you take so much of what you can do with your body for granted, and in a heartbeat all of that can be taken away. I had to rebuild the skills to do the little things like go to the bathroom and brush my teeth.
My goal was to walk without any assistance as I was starting a new job in two weeks’ time. And I hadn’t given up hope on completing a half marathon in mid August. (Yep, I’m a crazy runner, but only half crazy!)
As a runner you take so much of what you can do with your body for granted, and in a heartbeat all of that can be taken away.
For the first four months I would cry on my way to work—I wanted to throw in the towel so many times. I wanted to do more but my body would say “no,” and the only solution was to rest. My new employer even allowed me to go home if I was tired, but my new position in IT meant that I needed to be there.
Typing was hunt and peck; I couldn’t get my fingers to go where they needed to go! It seemed like they had a mind of their own. Dialing a simple telephone was hard because I had to aim for the key and hope I would get it. It was never a quick process. Speaking, well, it sounded like I was drunk. I was constantly saying sorry and explaining what had happened. Trying to talk sometimes was impossible because it was right there, but I couldn’t get the words out. I would end up in tears at times trying to explain, and I couldn’t. I had to slow down … I couldn’t even recognize my writing. Walking wasn’t any easier. I felt like a drunken sailor for a long time.
I gained weight during my stroke recovery, but I’m back to a workout schedule now and I hope to be a better me this year. I’m also working with a trainer, Abby McClure, at Lifetime Fitness to improve my strength and balance. I’m not where I was last year, but I’m looking ahead to getting better.
Running After a Stroke
My first half after my stroke was difficult; at the end my legs felt like spaghetti and I was dizzy. That night I was throwing up and felt like I was going to die. I was worried I might even be having another stroke. Running after a stroke is very difficult!
Since then, I’ve done the Women Rock half, Denver Rock’n’Roll half, and Women Run the Cities 10 mile. Each one has been easier than the last. At the beginning of 2014 I set a goal to do five half marathons (I finished six).
This year I plan to run seven. Now my goal is simply to finish. I don’t care what the clock says.
What are your goals this year?