May is National Stroke Awareness Month. According to the American Stroke Association, one in six Americans will suffer a stroke in their lifetime. Strokes, also known as cerebrovascular accidents (CVAs), affect millions of Americans each year. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When this happens, the brain is deprived of oxygen, and brain cells begin to die. Strokes don’t discriminate against age, gender, or background and occur approximately every 40 seconds here in the United States. It is the leading cause of adult long-term disability, and the fifth leading cause of death. Following a stroke, survivors may suffer from physical, cognitive, communication, and swallowing difficulties. Stroke survivor and Magee patient Debbie Elliot knows about such changes following a stroke she had in April. Debbie has worked hard, maintained a positive attitude, and learned to “Believe in a way back” during her time at Magee in order to make the most of her recovery. Learn a little bit more about Debbie here.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Debbie Elliot, and I’m 55 years old. I grew up in South Philadelphia where I live with my daughter Courtney. I have worked as a crossing guard for the past 25 years. In my spare time, I like bowling, cooking, and spending time with my family.
What brought you to Magee?
On April 17, I had a stroke in the left back portion of my frontal lobe. I remember being at home and experiencing numbness and weakness in my face. When I got to the hospital, my stroke had worsened and began affecting my right arm and leg. While in the hospital, I remember feeling extremely overwhelmed and anxious because I wasn’t sure what my road to recovery would involve.
What was the first day of your rehab at Magee like?
I remember feeling very motivated to recover and get better, but I was still nervous because so much was unknown. The nervousness I was feeling in the beginning made it hard to stay focused during the first few days here. With time, consistent support, and feedback from the staff, I realized how much strength I actually had and how determined I was to get back to my old self. I knew that in order to get better, I had to give it everything I had!
What advice would you give to another stroke/brain injury survivor?
I would tell anyone going through a life changing event to try not to focus on the negative. During the beginning of my recovery, I became consumed with worrying and thinking the worst of everything. I quickly realized that was not going to help me get better. Throughout the course of my recovery, I’ve learned that you can do whatever you put your mind to, as long as you believe in yourself. The doctors, nurses, and the therapy staff here at Magee do a great job at guiding you through treatment and inspiring you to get better and reach your goals.