On Sunday night, my paternal grandmother passed away.

Today, I’m struggling to navigate a confusing tangle of emotions. I’m caught in a state of emotional déjà vu. Because, in truth, I lost her once before – 20 years ago.

That’s when she had the stroke.

I was in middle school when a massive stroke stole my grandmother’s voice, and with it her ability to share her stories, her lessons, her self. She was paralyzed on her right side, and could no longer speak more than a handful of repetitive phrases.

She could not articulate her wishes, but her eyes would plead with you to guess what she was thinking. If you were on the right track, she would say ‘So good, honey.’ If she wanted you to keep trying to figure it out, she would say ‘You can say it?’

It was heartbreaking. And it went on for twenty years.

Her experience motivated and fueled my quest for fitness. I fight against that future with every workout and every drop of sweat.

Today I can think of no better way to honor the grandmother I lost than to encourage you to educate yourself about stroke risk. Learn the signs. Consciously engage in prevention.

“The American Heart Association reports 800,000 Americans suffer from stroke each year. Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the US and the fourth leading cause of death. Up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable, because for the most part, strokes are the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Recent research published in the journal Stroke1 found that, if you’re inactive, you have a 20 percent higher risk for having a stroke or mini-stroke (transient ischemic attack) than people who exercise enough to break a sweat at least four times a week.”

Stroke Prevention Infographic

I even made you an infographic! (Play along – pretend I’m good at this kind of thing)

“[R]egular exercise affects your veins and arteries… physical activity keeps your larger arteries flexible, meaning that they will be elastic enough to stretch and allow more blood to flow when it’s needed, a little like a fire hose. As a result, your blood pressure is more likely to be sitting at normal levels during times of stress on the body instead of at dangerously elevated levels, easing the pressure on your heart and respiratory system.” – Livestrong

Take care of yourself. Use your healthy days to prevent untold suffering.

Sweat yourself healthy. Push your blood around. Make your heart beat strong. Work those elastic veins and arteries.

Absolutely NO excuses.

This morning, I was tired. I was sad. I wanted to curl up in bed and cry. But I didn’t. Instead, I laced up my running shoes and focused on my grandmother as I dripped with sweat.

This one’s for you, Grammy. Fly high.

Blood pumping.

Blood pumping.

2 thoughts on “Stroke.

  1. I am so sorry for the loss of your grandmother. I appreciate you sharing this important story, and as a new grandma it inspires me to keep up my fitness routine and take good care of myself. I want to be there, healthy, for my grandchildren. Your grandma must be very proud of you up there, looking down.

  2. So sorry to hear about your grandmother. This is all really good advice. This morning I took the dog out for a long walk and was feeling lazy halfway through. What got me to keep going was being grateful that I am able to do a tough walk like that, to live, to sweat, to breathe. Love the infographic, too. 🙂

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