Our story may be familiar to yours, or someone you know. It is one of the many reasons why I joined the American Heart Association’s Start Training Program as a coach in an effort to promote physical activity and to raise funds for the American Heart Association towards carrying out the mission to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
My mom, Irma, has always been a strong, independent, hard working woman. On August 11, 2012 our world got turned upside down when she had an ischemic stroke that affected one-third of the left hemisphere of her brain. Initially, she had no sensation or movement on the right side of her body and she could not speak. The first doctor who saw her gave me no guarantees that she would be able to walk again or use her right arm again. He wasn’t sure if the extent of the stroke would lead to full paralysis of her right side.
Thankfully, she received excellent care at the Rehabilitation Facility where they helped her make vast improvements. My mom is now walking with the use of a cane, and is able to use her right hand for some tasks even though her left hand is now her dominant hand. She still experiences expressive aphasia; she knows exactly what she wants to say but the way the stroke affected her brain makes it difficult for her to get the words out. This is probably the most frustrating aspect for her, in addition to needing assistance for all her daily living activities. The loss of independence has been a tough adjustment for her. To make things more complicated, my mom has developed a seizure disorder that is possibly caused by the scar tissue surrounding the area of her stroke; this is under control due with medication. I am grateful for the excellent team of medical professionals we have to help us. Our focus now is on regaining whatever she can through regular activity. My mom will never be at 100% like she was before this stroke, but I hope to be able to get her as close as I can.
I’m a coach for the AHA Start Training program to support my mom and other family/friends who have experienced heart disease or stroke. I also know firsthand the positive impact physical activity can have on someone with a chronic condition. I live with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia, both conditions which were severely debilitating to me, requiring me to quit my career and almost putting me in a wheelchair. I started walking on my treadmill in September 2012 with a goal of completing a half marathon in June 2013. I ran my first 5K in December 2012 and I completed my first half marathon on June 8, 2013. Running has put my conditions in remission, allowing me to care for my mom full‐time. In less than 2.5 years I have run 26 half marathons, many 10Ks and 5ks and countless training miles. I have also lowered my blood pressure and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Imagine the impact if we reduce death and disability from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20% by 2020! Please support me and my mom in helping to reach this lifesaving goal by giving a donation to the American Heart Association today! Any amount big or small can make a huge difference. I don’t want my kids to see a family member in the hospital due to a heart attack or stroke ever again, they’ve been affected enough already. Thanks in advance for your support.
The link to donate online is: http://starttrainingbayarea.heart.org/simplygabriela
If you’d like to help me by hosting a fundraiser, I’d truly appreciate it. Contact me! Email is livinglavidanormal AT gmail DOT com