F.A.S.T. Friday – Survivor Spotlight – NeAnna

I am a survivor.

I am a 40-year-old mom of three boys, a hairless Chinese crested and black cat and at the age of 33, I suffered my first silent stroke.

I was employed with an organization that presented extremely intense situations daily. While I loved my career greatly and especially adored my colleagues, I was unable to separate my health and well-being from that of my career.

What I did not know was that I would join a common secret club within the organization (survivors of stroke). Due to the high work load demand and constant death threats while working in my life’s passion of civil rights in a fundraising and donor assets management capacity, I was stretched paper thin. The commitment of all my colleagues rubbed off on me and work-life balance simply was not a thing where we worked.

We worked HARD and many of us suffered HARD.

After suffering my stroke with no knowledge of symptoms, I was referred to a neurologist who was dismayed at my brain scans showing multiple gray areas of concern (reflecting multiple strokes). She educated me on a healthy work-life balance and relayed the information back to my doctor who immediately put me on bedrest.

After multiple silent strokes along with some of my closest colleagues (two of whom, literally died while working), I submitted to the notion that I needed to set healthy examples for my children. My boys watched me forget things regularly and temporarily suffer from Executive Dysfunction as a result of the repeated strokes.

I am now a HUGE advocate for establishing a healthy work-life balance and asking for assistance to accomplish a goal. My diet has drastically changed for the better (preferring a Pescatarian-Caribbean-Mediterranean diet). I exercise a minimum of 30 minutes a day and I practice healthy deep breathing exercises to check in with how my body is responding to my current workload.

I am well today and aware of my responsibility to practice heart healthy habits and I am elated to be a part of the efforts of the American Heart Association.