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The people you meet

It is true when they say everything happens for a reason. Sometimes we don’t know why & somedays are harder than others, but we only got one shot at this thing called life.. right? I also believe people are brought into your life for a reason, for me, one of those people happened to be Neale.

A little background in a nutshell (please note, some specifics are left out). My entire life I’ve suffered from migraines but thought that was how everyone’s headaches felt.

When I began suffering from slurred speech and left sided weakness, I was told it was anxiety & then was eventually informed I had an AVM (arteriovenous malformation) in my brain the size of a softball. I know what you’re thinking... are our brains even THAT big? Ha, somehow I still managed to pass classes in college with the help of family/friends every now and then. School was hard but sports came easy nearly all my life.

The doctors were informed of my father’s family history of AVM’s, although we were told it wasn’t hereditary, just a coincidence. Through the tragic & unfortunate loss of my father, we found out there was more to this AVM & that was something known as HHT, or hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia.

My stroke-like symptoms continued to be brushed off as “normal” for years until I learned through my dad I needed to get to an HHT Center of Exellence, the Cleveland Clinic, to have a14-hour brain surgery that resulted in left side paralysis.

I couldn’t move the left side of my body. I couldn’t speak, swallow, or stay awake for long after my week-long medically induced coma. I wondered where I could get ice cream & swallow it safely, and how would I be good at wheelchair basketball.

Fast forward: Through one special therapist who believed in me & took a chance on me, I was able to regain strength & energy each day, & eventually walk again. Through this recovery it has brought national attention to the news, online articles, etc.

Meeting people for a reason: it was just my luck that Neale & I were blessed with the same physical therapist who got us back on our feet again & got us connected on Facebook! When chattin’ with Neale I was intrigued by his motivation, nonstop desire to get better, the support he has from his wife (& dogs), & how passionate he is to help other stroke survivors.

Neale has shared two life-changing recommendations with me that I can’t thank him enough for. 1) the importance of nutrition during recovery, connecting me with Cleveland Cavaliers, Nutritionist, Kylene Bogden & Abby Vichill at Fwd Fuel.

^To my surprise, Cleveland folk are better & smarter than I thought! This has been a game changer.

2) TRX straps were another one of Neale’s genius recommendations. These have truly assisted in both strength & ROM for me. It’s important to note that I require assistance with the setup and supervision of these, however the results have been incredible. I even have a mean left tricep to show for it!!

Anyway, I just wanted to write a bit about who I am & remind everyone that it’s never too late to make gains in your recovery no matter how far out. It’s also never too late to make great connections, like I did with Neale!

Neale looks at me & wishes his legs were as strong and mobile as mine are again, but I look at his hand function, strength, & nonstop determination & am intrigued. I can’t thank Neale enough for reaching out to me & taking that time out to chat with me when we accidentally (fate) crossed paths in the Mellen Center parking lot! We will continue to get physically and mentally stronger! We are here to prove it.

P. S. Happy Birthday Neale!!! (05/24/21)!

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