Accepting Who I Am

I spent over 30 years in the accounting and finance departments of both residential and commercial construction. I was always in a position of trust and I took that role very seriously — with the credentials to prove it.

On October 28, 2013, I was headed back to work after lunch when I experienced a very bad headache, which was not the norm for me. I was driving, but the headache got so bad that I pulled over to the side of the road. I got out of my vehicle and collapsed to the ground. This is all I remember, but someone called 911 because Flight for Life arrived and took me to a hospital in Denver. There I had brain surgery and spent 95 days recovering and ran up around $3 million in medical bills. No joke; that is exactly what happened!

As it turns out, I had four aneurysms in my brain, and all of them ruptured at the same time, which caused a massive stroke. We are talking major brain surgery to fill the aneurysms with coils. I have a permanent metal shunt in my head to keep everything in place. They also removed part of my brain on the left side. I had to learn to walk, eat, think and drive again. I lost everything — my job, my home, my belongings. I left the hospital in a hospital gown, with only my purse and a cellphone. I had to start over completely at age 50.

My son, Cody, age 27 at the time, and I moved in with friends in Greeley for a few months. Colorado was no longer a good fit for me, and we moved to Michigan, where I got a job in sales with a paint contractor. I can no longer handle accounting and finance.

The stroke produced other repercussions. First, my short-term memory is gone. I have to write everything down, but that works. My long-term memory is great. I also have tinnitus, nasty, nonstop ringing in my ears — very annoying. I also had cataracts as a result of the blood from the ruptured aneurysms flooding my eyes. They replaced both lenses, and I can see fine now, except for a permanent dark blotch in my left eye. I do use “cheaters” [reading glasses] to see close up, but I think that’s just age.

Because of the short-term memory loss, I do repeat myself a lot in conversations. Sorry about that, friends.

I want to acknowledge my brother, Kevin, who lived nearby and put his life on hold to be with me night and day while I was in the hospital. I owe him and the amazing doctors and therapists big time!

A very good friend always makes me laugh when she says, “Honey, life’s a bitch and then you die.” Well, I know from experience that life is tough and it only gets harder as we age! I am learning who I am at age 53. I can say this for sure, I never gave up on life — nor will I despite what I have become today. I always do the best I can with what I have to work with. That is simply who I am.

BETH SORENSON | Survivor St. Joseph, Michigan

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Stroke Rehabilitation

Making the Best Decisions at Discharge After Stroke

The type of rehabilitation and support systems a survivor receives at discharge can strongly influence health outcomes and recovery. In this, the first part of a two-part series on stroke rehab, we offer guidance for the decision-making process required when it’s time to leave the hospital.

What to Expect from Outpatient Rehab

After stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type of rehabilitation. Outpatient therapy may consist of Several types of therapy. Whether a patient is referred to inpatient or outpatient therapy depends on the level of medical care required.

What to Expect in Stroke Rehab

Following a stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type rehabilitation. In this second of our two-part series, we want to alleviate some of the mystery, fear and anxiety around the inpatient rehab part of the stroke recovery journey.
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AHA-ASA Resources

The Support Network

When faced with challenges recovering from heart disease or stroke, it’s important to have emotional support. That is why we created a network to connect patients and loved ones with others during their journey.

Caregiver Guide to Stroke

The Caregiver Guide to Stroke is meant to help caregivers better navigate the recovery process and the financial and social implications of a stroke.

Stroke Support Group Finder

To find a group near you, simply enter your ZIP code and a mile radius. If your initial search does not pull up any groups, try

Tips for Daily Living Library

This volunteer-powered library gathers tips and ideas from stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals all over the country who’ve created or discovered adaptive and often innovative ways to get things done!

Stroke Family Warmline

The Warmline connects stroke survivors and their families with an ASA team member who can provide support, helpful information or just a listening ear.

Let's Talk About Stroke Patient Information Sheets

Let's Talk About Stroke is a series of downloadable patient information sheets, created by the American Stroke Association, that presents information in a question-and-answer format that's brief, easy to follow and easy to read.

Request Free Stroke Information Packets

Fill out this online form to request free information about a variety of post-stroke topics.
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Stroke & Parts of the Brain

When Stroke Affects the Occipital Lobe

Our occipital lobe, the smallest of the four lobes of the cerebral cortex, controls how we visually interpret our world.

When Stroke Affects the Cerebellum

The cerebellum contains 80 percent of our neurons. Its job seems to be to make things better. We talked with neuroscientist Jeremy Schmahmann about how stroke affects the “little brain.”

When Stroke Affects the Parietal Lobe

The parietal lobe helps us make sense of sensory information, like where our bodies and body parts are in space, our sense of touch, and the part of our vision that deals with the location of objects.

When Stroke Affects the Frontal Lobe

Of the four lobes that make up the cerebral cortex, the frontal lobe is the largest. It plays a huge role in many of the functions that make us human — memory, language, movement, judgment, abstract thinking.

When Stroke Affects the Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe has several functions, mainly involved with memory, perception and language.

When Stroke Affects the Brain Stem

The brain stem serves as a bridge in the nervous system. It sits at the top of the spinal column in the center of the brain. When a stroke happens there, it can cause a few different deficits and, in the most severe cases, can lead to locked-in syndrome.

When Stroke Affects the Thalamus

The thalamus can be thought of as a "relay station," receiving signals from the brain’s outer regions (cerebral cortex), interpreting them, then sending them to other areas of the brain to complete their job.
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Stroke Notes

Stroke-related news you can use about new scientific findings, public policy, programs and resources.

Readers Room

Articles, poems and art submitted by stroke survivors and their loved ones.

Life Is Why

Everyone has a reason to live a longer, healthier life. These stroke survivors, caregivers and others share their 'whys'. We'd love for you to share yours, too!

Everyday Survival

Practical tips and advice for day-to day living after stroke.

Life At The Curb

A unique perspective on survival by comedian and stroke survivor John Kawie.

Simple Cooking

Cooking at home can be a daunting task, but a rewarding one for your diet and lifestyle (and your wallet). Making small changes in your diet is important to your heart health. Here are simple, healthy and affordable recipes and cooking tips.

Helping Others Understand

Stroke affects people differently and many of the effects of stroke can be complicated. Helping friends and family understand how a stroke is affecting a survivor can help everyone involved.

Support Showcase

Our new department highlighting the good work being done by stroke support groups from around the nation. If you are part of a successful support group we should consider featuring, let us know!