Stacey Kind was living a normal life teaching science to high school students and taking care of her family. One day in February, she started feeling strange while exercising in her home. Stacey remembers feeling dizzy, having a headache and then her husband calling 9-1-1. Stacey suffered a massive stroke in her brain stem leaving her unable to breath on her own, eat, talk or do anything for herself.
After 3 months of intensive inpatient therapy at Magee, Stacey is now preparing to return home. To say that Stacey has gone through an incredible transformation since her first days at Magee is an understatement. Her tracheostomy tube has been removed, she is now eating regular food, holding full conversations, dressing herself with only minimal assistance, and gaining more and more strength with her walking. Although Stacey has not finished battling the effects of her stroke, she is ready for the next step in her journey: returning home and getting back to as much normalcy as possible.
I had the opportunity to sit with Stacey to learn more about her experience as a patient at Magee Rehab and hear words of encouragement for future Magee patients and their families.
What advice would you give to families that have a loved one going through the rehabilitation process?
Be patient and whatever the patient is telling you, listen to them, because they know. Be positive — it’s important. Stay up for your loved one — you’ve gotta be their rock.
What advice would you give to patients going through the rehabilitation process?
Don’t worry about other people, worry about yourself. Give it your all, don’t hold back. Do the best you can. Try and think of something else you enjoy and try to do it, like reading, writing, whatever it is that makes you happy to help pass the time.
How has your outlook on life changed since your stroke?
I don’t worry about the little things anymore. I’m not as superficial. Well, I never really was, but I definitely am not now. I value people so much more for all that they did for me
What were some of your biggest challenges during your time in Magee?
Passing the time and trying to stay in high spirits and not be angry. I was angry that this happened to me. I led a healthy lifestyle. I did everything right and it still happened, and it didn’t seem fair. But life isn’t fair. I had to accept it and move on, and that’s a hard thing.
Not being afraid, getting passed the fear. I’m still afraid, but I do it anyway. In your mind, try to psych yourself up to do it even if you are afraid. Every time I think I can’t do it, I do it. It’s just that –pushing yourself.
What are some things that have been most frustrating for you?
I want to do so many things that I still can’t. I have to accept that I just can’t yet because it’s too hard. There are times when I’m about to reach the carrot and then they move it — the goals keep getting bigger and bigger. You want it to stop and say you reached your goal and be done, but you can’t be done. You have to keep going. I still have to learn how to get back into life, the life that I had with my friends and the real world.
How would you describe the experience?
You feel like you are out of body, like this isn’t you. You have to accept it. You don’t want to, but you have to because it does no good not to.
What kept you going when you wanted to give up?
Sky, my daughter, and Marc, my husband. I had no choice but to keep going for them. They invested so much in me all this time, I don’t want to let them down, especially Marc. He’s my everything; he’s done some things for me that no one should ever have to do for someone else. He must love me for doing so much
So I know that you have a whole support system — what would you say to those people that have supported you through all this?
I can’t believe how good people are. I would say to them, thank you so much. I can’t believe what people have done, all their generosity is incredible. They made shirts, bracelets and mugs, which went towards helping our family live, and now we have one less thing to worry about. People made food for my family, helped take care of my daughter.
At the end of our interview, Stacey’s husband Marc ended when a very powerful statement. He told me “You get what you give. She is such a tremendous person. This outpouring of love and support is proof of all her hard work, thoughtfulness, kindness and sensitivity that’s coming back.”
So to those that have supported Stacey on her journey, know that Kind Stayed STRONG and will continue to get stronger each day.
To learn more about Stacey’s story, visit StayStrongKind.com.