Television appearance with Big Budah on Good Day Utah promoting Go Red For Women.
My name is Amy Steinbrech and I would like to share my story as a stroke “thriver”. I realize I have so much to be thankful for. It was just a little over a year ago that I was laying in a hospital bed uncertain and afraid of what my future may hold.
I was just 40 years-old when my stroke happened. I was visiting my family in Wyoming for the holidays when I awoke in the middle of the night to use the restroom and realized that I was unable to turn the light switch off. Confused and disoriented, I returned to bed thinking I would simply “sleep it off”. I drifted in and out of consciousness, coming to the realization that the entire right side of my body was paralyzed. My sisters came to check on me around 8:00 a.m., thinking I must have been extra tired from celebrating New Year’s Eve the night before. What my sisters found when they opened the door scared them. I was barely conscious and a mere shadow of the outgoing sister they loved. I was laying there totally helpless and unable to utter a single word.
Learning to walk and talk again in the rehabilitation unit at the University Of Utah.
I was immediately life flighted from my Mom’s home in Lander, Wyoming to the University of Utah hospital where I spent one week in the Intensive Care Unit, followed by three days in Acute Care, and four weeks in the Rehabilitation department for a grand total of six weeks. Although my time in the ICU was basically a big blur, I do remember a memory board my niece Naomi and my nephew Jack created for me. A speech therapist mentioned that creating a memory board would be helpful in recognizing the names and faces of my family. That was all that needed to be said, and with crayons and markers in hand, Naomi and Jack were off to create my memory board.
Then it was off to the rehabilitation unit where my recovery started in earnest. I was in therapy six days a week for seven hours a day and I can honestly say I have never worked harder in my entire life. I was completely committed to learning to walk and talk again while regaining movement and strength back in my right side.
My therapy sessions progressed very rapidly thanks to my strong work ethic and positive attitude.
I remember not being able to raise my right arm one day and literally the next morning I was able to lift my arm up six inches. When I was released from the hospital I was able to raise my arm above my head. I experienced that same type of rapid progression in physical therapy, where I progressed from being in a wheelchair to going on 8 mile hikes. The same is true for speech therapy. I struggled to utter my nieces name “Nomi” in the ICU and look at me now writing a blog.
My therapists are as good as they come and totally top notch. They were so patient, understanding, and comforting and most importantly, they acted as a team. They pushed me to my limits and I will always be forever grateful for that.
My doctors knew they would not have to ask me if I was ready to go home. I was more than ready and willing to embrace life outside the hospital walls. I was discharged on February 8, 2013 and that was truly one of my happiest days of my life. Thanks to my amazing team of doctors at the University of Utah who took such good care of me, and my pure spirit of determination, I am now is busy preparing to reenter the work force and treasuring each and every day.
Learning to ride my bike again.
I enjoy swimming and this was my first time back in pool since my stroke.
I would like to share with you a few key items I learned from my stroke.
- It really helps to have a strong support network. My Mom and three sisters were my biggest cheerleaders and I can’t imagine going through my stroke recovery without them. It is so important to surround yourself with only positive people – no “Debby Downers” allowed in my support network.
- It is important to set goals. In the Rehabilitation unit, I vividly remember a big whiteboard where the doctors and nurses could write notes and seeing “TBD/ To Be Determined” next to my release date. That was not going to “cut it” with my determined spirit, and although I was still unsteady on my feet, I walked up to the whiteboard and wrote my release date as January 31st. Although I was not released until February 8th, I still had a goal I was working towards.
- A positive attitude can truly work miracles. You have to believe in yourself.
I gave surfing a try on a trip to San Diego with my three wonderful sisters. I am looking forward to trying surfing again post stroke.
I participated and volunteered at the 2013 American Heart Association walk/run.
I really enjoy hiking and I was back in my element on this 8 mile hike.
Trip to the Wine Country with my Mom and sisters. I am so thankful for their unconditional support and love.
We did a bike tour on our trip which was so much fun.